Not too long ago a friend of mine texted me because she was reading some book about happiness and felt that she was not as happy as she should be. I don’t remember which book because it wasn’t important to me. But our text conversation about the causes of unhappiness did stick with me.
I think the problem is as follows: My generation was told we could do anything we wanted if only we worked hard enough at it. Which somehow as we age has become if I just work harder I can do everything. And of course everything is not actually possible. So we feel like failures and we strive harder. And keeping our nose to the grind stone, all we see is that grindstone. We miss the beauty.
So where did I come by this idea? When I moved here, I knew no one. I had no where I had to go, no obligations I had to fill, no friends I needed to see/help/spend time with. It was just the fam and me. Life got SLOW. Very, very SLOW. So SLOW in fact that dropping everything and going to the lake for the morning was totally possible because I could always do everything later. There was always more time later. I joined the local zoo and we went every week on the way to the grocery store for a couple of hours because it filled our time with beauty. There was always more time.
Of course, eventually I made friends. And the kiddo made friends. And plans started to creep in. And then obligations started to creep in. And then this summer I found myself drowning in chaotic disaster of someone else’s making. I had to chose what sort of person I wanted to be. Did I want to drop it all and be “happy.” Or did I want to be the sort of person who honors their commitments?
I chose to honor my commitment. Which in the short run was very painful however I got two things out of it in the long run. A) I get to be happy with the person I am. I stuck to my moral guidelines. B) I got a fab reminder why I shouldn’t say yes to everything. Just to some things. And that means I need to say “Let me think about this” first. And then I need to flipping think about it. If it costs me an opportunity, or a friendship, then so be it. Because my soul, my contentment, my ability to smile and say yeah I am happy and mean it, is worth more than anything else.
Are you happy? Why or why not? How did you figure out how to be happy despite the ups and downs?