…finding a pencil
…pizza with sausage
…telling the time
Charlie Brown really was a blockhead if he thought happiness was as simple as all that. It’s so complicated, if you were to diagram how to achieve bliss, it would look worse than the Afghanistan Stability chart pictured here.
“Are you happy?”
It’s a loaded question. Once in awhile, I question my level of contentment. Mostly I just live my life and try to get through a day without yelling at my children too much. What inspired me to visit the subject on Daily Cup of Jo was little Miss T. A few weeks ago, I was riding in the car with the girls and my mother-in-law. My daughters call her Oma (please do not ask why). She was sitting beside me in the passenger seat, having a pleasant conversation with Miss T in the back, talking about my nieces who moved from Pennsylvania to New York, started new schools last year and moved into a different house. In regard to her 11-year-old cousin, Miss T asked simply, “Is she happy?” Miss T is an old soul. Her seven-year-old mind often contemplates and embraces ideas that are far more profound than the average first grader. Or perhaps it’s a simple case of “out of the mouths of babes”. Regardless, I heard the question and have been thinking about it ever since.
More than anything, I wonder how important it is to be happy. It’s pleasant, sure. The alternative is less so. But is it essential? Wendy and I barely spoke heading up our never-ending hill this morning but when we reached the top and I caught my breath, I asked her to help me dissect the happiness conundrum by giving me her take.
Wendy felt strongly that happiness in her life comes from an absence of angst. The more stress-free her days are, the more she smiles. She’s been through a lot the past eighteen months, what with TBI Marco and everything his recovery has entailed. She’s a caregiver now, more than she is a lawyer or a wife or a sister/daughter/friend. Similar to how I feel as a mother, her happiness stems in large part from the growth she sees in the person for whom she’s caring. My three girls are turning out okay (so far). That makes me happy. This morning, Marco had sustained moments when he seemed to be back fully to his former self. That makes Wendy happy.
“Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed.” – Storm Jameson
And then there’s Storm, getting all philosophical about the subject and hitting a few nails on the head. I am genuinely full of good cheer when experiencing all she has suggested. I’m also content on a rainy Sunday, reading the New York Times in front of a fire while a football game plays on the flat screen. It’s fleeting, though, if the bills aren’t paid, the girls are being ignored, I’m three days behind on DailyCupofJo, the kitchen floor is filthy and the carpet needs to be vacuumed. In other words, I find great joy in having ducks all in a row. Also, Wendy and I both agree that if a person’s happiness comes at the expense of another’s, that’s not good.
Rielle Hunter. It’s not her given name. That would be Lisa Jo Druck. And for the record, I’m generally uncomfortable slamming someone personally who I don’t know at all, but I can’t help myself. I watched her interview with Oprah from last week and she invites loathing. Her ridiculous, narcissistic banter was hypocritical, inconsistent and just downright icky. If she used the words “authentic self” one more time, I was going to throw something at the television that wasn’t mine and mess up my sister’s pristine bedroom (you wanna talk about ducks in a row?) Rielle will take no responsibility for hurting Elizabeth Edwards. According to Hunter, Edwards is on the hook for her own reaction to what transpired even if she was kept in the dark about most of it. I agree that, in the end, we’re all accountable for how we feel about something, but much of the time, that responsibility needs to be shared. Blame, in fact, is often necessary. John Edwards renewed his vows with his wife knowing that Hunter was pregnant with his child. Then he lied and said it wasn’t his. He and Hunter deserve each other but I can’t fathom how happiness can come at the expense of so many, including two young children and a baby. They didn’t kill anyone. There are far worse individuals out there, but they don’t go on Oprah at precisely the time I’m thinking about writing a piece on joy.
…having a sister
…sharing a sandwich
Back at Wendy’s house this morning, I asked Marco how he would define happiness. He barely gave it a thought before saying it’s living the life you want to live. Well that’s a little easier said than done, sir, but there’s truth in that idea. Some decide for certain what their life is supposed to be and pursue it at all costs (bad), while others let it unfold gently and elasticize themselves, moving this way when the circumstances allow, and that way when they don’t (good). They’re confident in the journey and I admire them the most. What’s their secret? I’d be happy in their shoes.
Marco’s therapist showed up and said matter-of-factly that happiness is selfless kindness. Or maybe she said selfish kindness. She doesn’t like Rielle Hunter either. There was unspoken agreement that happiness most definitely involves love, as much given as received. That’s an Olympic sized no-brainer, right?
The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. – Ben Franklin
How awesome is our Constitution?
What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wished I’d realized it sooner. – Colette
There’s something to keep in mind.
Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open. –John Barrymore
I’m over one thousand words now on this post, and I’d hardly call it definitive. Rather, consider it food for thought and I’ll leave you with my favorite quote of all on this very complex subject.
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. –Dalai Lama
Wednesdays with Wendy