According to the World Happiness Report, My home country: Sierra Leone ranks fourth least happy nation in 2024. Another stark reminder that happiness is phenomena that often eludes the world’s richest countries and people.

In a world where happiness seems like this big, mysterious thing, let’s break it down. Being happy isn’t just about feeling good for a moment. It’s about being true to yourself and being okay with that. But it’s not always easy. Sometimes it feels like we’re walking a tightrope between being brave and showing our true selves.

Think about it like this: being brave means being willing to be yourself even when it’s scary. And being real means being honest about who you are, even if it means being vulnerable. It’s like showing up and saying, “Hey, this is me, take it or leave it.”

Authentic happiness isn’t merely a fleeting emotion or a destination to be reached; it’s a continuous journey of self-discovery and growth. It requires us to confront our fears, embrace our vulnerabilities, and cultivate the courage to live authentically.

Renowned author BrenĂ© Brown beautifully encapsulates this struggle in her work on vulnerability. She writes, “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.” This notion challenges us to break free from the shackles of societal expectations and embrace our true selves, flaws and all.

For African women, the journey towards happiness is often compounded by intersecting layers of systemic oppression and cultural norms. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Nigerian author, reminds us of the importance of embracing our authentic selves, stating, “Of course I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.” Her words echo the sentiment of many African women who refuse to dim their light to fit into societal molds.

Navigating happiness as an African woman requires a delicate dance between courage and vulnerability. It means reclaiming our narratives, celebrating our strengths, and embracing our vulnerabilities as sources of power rather than weakness.

One of the key insights in this journey is the recognition that happiness is an inside job. It’s not contingent upon external circumstances or validation from others but stems from a deep sense of self-acceptance and inner peace. As Ghanaian philosopher and academic, Ama Ata Aidoo, once said, “Authentic happiness is not dependent on what we do or have but on how we relate to ourselves and others.”

So how do we cultivate this authentic happiness in the face of adversity? It begins with self-reflection and self-love. It requires us to acknowledge our fears and insecurities with compassion and kindness, rather than judgment. It entails embracing our imperfections and embracing our vulnerabilities as sources of strength rather than weakness.

Practicing gratitude is another powerful tool in the pursuit of happiness. It allows us to shift our focus from what’s lacking to what’s abundant in our lives, fostering a sense of contentment and fulfillment. As South African activist and Nobel laureate, Desmond Tutu, once said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Gratitude serves as a beacon of hope that illuminates even the darkest of times.

Furthermore, cultivating meaningful connections and fostering a sense of community is essential for our well-being. As the African proverb states, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” By leaning on each other for support and sharing our joys and sorrows, we create a sense of belonging that nourishes our souls and fuels our happiness.

The journey towards authentic happiness is not without its challenges, especially for African women. It requires us to embrace courage in the face of vulnerability, to reclaim our narratives, and to cultivate self-love and gratitude.

As we navigate this journey, let us remember the words of Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai, “You cannot enslave a mind that knows itself, that values itself, that understands itself.” May we all find the courage to embrace our authenticity and navigate the path to happiness with grace and resilience.

In the end, finding happiness is about being brave enough to be ourselves, even when it’s scary. It’s about being real and honest, even if it means being vulnerable. So let’s embrace who we are, appreciate what we have, and lean on each other for support. That’s how we’ll find our way to happiness, one brave step at a time.

Written by: arianadiaries

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