When I was twenty-one, I met a woman I'll call Sunshine. She and I worked for the same company. In fact, we had the same job description.
I liked Sunshine. There was a fresh faced, wide-eyed innocence about her that gave me (and everyone else in the company) the impression she was as young as I was. In fact, she was a whole decade and a half older.
There was a big reason Sunshine looked so bright and young. Sunshine was happy. Every day she came in and she was just...inexplicably happy. A stark contrast to me. I was extremely unhappy and stressed. Stressed because I hated that job. I felt it sucked out my lifeforce every second I was there. Every one else that worked there was constantly complaining and also miserable. Every day for me was miserable, feeling stuck in a cest pool of loathing that leaked out into every facet of my life. The main source of my misery was the fact that I wanted more. A pay raise, a better job. More.
Sunshine, on the other hand, was content. Absolutely content. It drove me nuts. How could she not want more? How could she be content with that underpaying, overworking job? She had a college degree, as I did. I felt she should've aspired for something greater. Yet there she was...happy with things the way they were.
There was no denying that Sunshine was a good person. Genuinely good. And do you know what else I realized? Her happiness wasn't an act. She didn't smile all the time because she was being polite. She was just a deeply happy person.
She and I became friends and I listened to her with wide eyes, floored by her wisdom and the absolute purity of her conviction. She smiled more than anyone I've ever met. Conversations with her had the potential to be light and fun or shockingly deep and reflective. She was smart and very, very articulate. There was a light that just burst out of her and left you wishing you had her secret.
It took me years, many years, to realize her secret. All that time I thought that to be happy meant resigning to the ordinary. Which I refused to do. You see, I bought into the myth that an ordinary life was something to be ashamed of.
I think for Sunshine, extraordinary was finding happiness in the now. Extraordinary was not wanting more, but feeling that everything she had was enough. Just enough. It was a crazy concept for me to grasp. The concept of 'enough'. It wasn't until I came across Dr. Brene Brown's TedTalks that everything started making sense.