I haven’t posted here in a long time. Partly due to not having time, partly because I forgot about this, but mostly because I haven’t felt particularly inspired. That’s not to say nothing has happened in my life in years, it’s been quite busy; it more points to nothing notable having happened in a long time. Until today. I learned a lot about happiness and fulfillment. The kind of happiness I never considered. The search for that happiness. The importance of it.
Sigh… happiness, the ubiquitous virtue, more deeply sought after than money, more misunderstood than calculus.. happiness is subjective and messy. Happiness causes more sadness than a homeless puppy and brings more joy than a box of fluffy kittens. But we are doing it wrong. Happiness is the key we insert upside down and jiggle haphazardly until something happens. It never seems to open the right doors and now I know why:
We simply turned the wrong stone over to find it.
For so long, people have walked around erroneously thinking: “If I obtain _____, then I will be happy”, “If they would only _____, I would be happy”, “If only I could just ______, I would be happy.” NO. That just isn’t it. And it has been said a million times over but it’s true, happiness comes from within. But then the phrase ends. No more clues on how to make it happen, no protips or happiness hacks, just…. start there somehow and wing it.
Today, I met a woman while I was out, chatty little thing who continued on and on in a self-inflating, blissfully unaware sort of way. She went on and on about she is getting a bigger house, she makes great money, her over-privileged children are getting hundreds of dollars in Christmas gifts and they aren’t even out of grade school. How she doesn’t want her precious children going to a certain school because she heard Section 8 housing was going up in its district and she doesn’t want to “deal with the riff-raff”.
I was annoyed then actually a little angry. She had taken no time to even consider the sight of me shrinking into my chair a little lower, my adverted gaze, my comments about how I would love to do those things but I simply work too much and don’t have the money. She continued on asking if my kids did popular after school sports that require both time AND money and dug into me as if she enjoyed being able to do the things I couldn’t. As douchey as it was, it made me realize one important thing: she was smiling, but she wasn’t happy.
Me? I’m happy. I have little money, a full (and then some) time job, two lovely but demanding children/demons at home and a dog that refuses to be housebroken. I trudge through the week waiting for my every-other-weekend break when my demons/children are at their dad’s house and I can be an individual. I have an emotional breakdown weekly, cry for sport and my anxiety kicks me in the teeth every chance it gets. BUT SOMEHOW, I’m happy.
It’s possible to be happy and look sad, be broke, be tired and stressed. I do it all the time. I do it because I found it properly, and when you do that, it sticks with you. Like crash dieting vs. slowly losing weight, I guess. Here’s what I’ve picked up:
- He/she/they should never make you happy. First off, that’s a huge burden to place on someone’s shoulders. Instead, he/she/they need to *make you want to be happy*. A good friend/partner isn’t going to do the work for you, they are going to make you want to do the work for yourself.
- THINGS DON’T MAKE YOU HAPPY. They don’t. Trust me, I’ve tried. I shopped away a lot of feelings and you know not one of those things bring me joy. Metaphorically, the clutter of those things I bought because I thought they would make me happy causes more far more stress than they ever did happiness. Stop trying to buy your happiness, you’ll only be broke with a messy house.
- Your happiness will never actually come at the expense of someone else’s. It might feel a scootch good to brag about your stuff, your house, that yacht your husband’s family owns that you take selfies on and post for accolades. Continuing to raise yourself up by lowering everyone else is going to eventually catch up to you and when you fall to the level you placed your peers, it could get ugly.
I guess the point is, we are looking for happiness in all the wrong places. We are trusting people and things to make us happy for us instead of putting the work in ourselves. We surround ourselves with yes-men instead of finding people who make us want to be better versions of ourselves and it just isn’t working anymore. We are misers and entitled. We are the microwave generation and we need to learn it’s time to do work.
Perhaps next time I post here it will be more light-hearted and less preachy. It won’t seem like I’m some enlightened tool who tried Ayahuasca in college and knows the secrets of the universe. Or maybe not. Who knows?