I'm happy, thanks for asking

There's something about 5 AM sunrises. Photo courtesy of Wix.

I write this in the dark of my room as I peer out my window. It's about 7:30 in the morning and I can see the brilliant hues of pink and orange starting to peek out from the darkness.

I had been up since 5, thinking about where I was in my life at the moment. I do that from time to time, just lying awake and thinking about my existence and how I felt about it.

For many year, I had gone through life fairly neutrally. There were definitely moments of extreme highs, love, and feeling good about where I was. But there were also moments of extreme lows, sadness, and depression. If I'm being extremely honest with myself - which I usually am not - I was definitely unhappy. And it's not because of anything that anyone did, though yes, there were circumstances that involved situations and people who definitely were hurtful.

But mostly, it was myself. I was alone in my suffering for the most part.

The past two weeks I had been getting up exceptionally early to get a head start on the day, and I think it's turning me into a legit morning person. The past two weeks, Vancouver has also been blessed with beautiful sunshine and fairly mild temperatures. Fall in Vancouver had never looked so beautiful.

For the first time, I actually felt happy and content. Not just okay or meh or mediocre the way I had so many times for, well, pretty much ever.

I tried to think back to the first time that I felt this happy in my recent memory.

But not happy in an artificial sense - true, unfiltered happiness.

I was able to consciously identify it yesterday. I was waiting for a meeting to start in Vancouver's West End, by the beach. I just stood there, looking at the trees, breathing in the cold air and listened to this Vulfpeck song:

(Spoiler, it's a groovy song.)

I wasn't doing anything of note, anything rigorous, or anything that I usually would relate to happiness. I wasn't with anyone, I wasn't out anywhere in particular, I was just there by myself, as myself.

When I started to chart out all the days in my recent past that I had felt something similar - all these genuine feelings of happiness - I quickly saw that there was no rhyme or reason to it. I would feel this happiness in mixed situations: among friends or on my own, at home or out and about... the circumstances varied.

But it wasn't until I had a conversation about self-care with a friend that I finally got it.

When it came to my depression and sadness, especially recently, I didn't have a proper outlet for it. When I was out, I would drink a lot to try to ignore the way I felt. In the moments when I tried to confront my problems as a sober being, I was faced with people who told me to just "stop being sad". To "take a bubble bath", "watch a movie", or "go out with friends". To "go out on another date", "forget that guy", or "got to the gym".

I'm not here to say that these suggestions are invalid. I'm not here to diminish your definition of self-care - after all, it is called self-care. You do what works best for you.

I quickly found that for me it was indeed going to the gym and just being outside. It could also come about when I was out with friends, but also when I was by myself. You need that time for yourself as much as you need time socializing.

But however you do it, you absolutely need to take care of yourself. That is something that is a must.

Find those moments where you feel that raw, natural happiness, because that stuff is amazing.