When you ask people what they want, they generally respond that they just want to be “happy.” Parents say that they just want for their kids to be “happy.” Spouses will lament that all they ever wanted in their marriage is just to be “happy.” But what is “happy?” Who defines it? What does it mean?
Some unhappy people are unhappy because they’ve got the wrong idea about what happiness is. Some people think that ‘happiness’ is an uninterrupted state of bliss, a continual laugh-fest, a joyous celebration – hour after hour of day after day, year after year. However, that sort of existance is simply impossible and anyone who seeks it will be disappointed, and thus, unhappy.
For example, it’s 7:15am. I am not “happy” about being up at 7:15am. I’d like to sleep until about 9. I have to go get a haircut this morning. I am not “happy” about that. I wish my hair would just stay in a flattering style without me having to do anything to it. I will be seeing clients tonight until about 9pm. I’m not “happy” about having to work to support my family. I’d rather be a millionnaire and travel around the world giving money away.
However, I have had to stop typing this brief blog entry about 6 times now to attend to my simply adorable cat, Nino, who has placed himself, belly-up, into a box of donation envelopes I’m working on for the Breast Cancer 3-Day walk. I am absolutely delighted to rub his belly and listen to his happy little meows when I stop and go back to typing. The envelopes remind me that I’ve got a great friend from graduate school who will be coming to Arizona in November to do the Breast Cancer 3-Day walk with me. I am really excited about that and will be looking forward to that for the next 8 months.
As I stopped again to pet Nino, I noticed that there is also a thank-you card in my box, from my cousin who just got married. This is a cousin I used to babysit for when I was a teenager and now he’s a grown-up man with a wife. That warmed my heart and made me smile. I remembered the gift I sent them, which was an item I inherited from my Great-Grandmother. It made me very happy to pass it on to them and give the item new life in their new family. I remember that after her death, my cousin and I both wanted it and he acquiesced, joking that I’d die before him because I was older, and he’d get it anyhow, and I am now thinking about how wonderful my family is and how loving and cooperative everyone was on the day we went and cleaned out Great-Grandma’s apartment and told stories about her and Great-Grandpa and cried and laughed and held each other.
Now, what was this blog about anyhow? Oh yeah, happiness.
I ended up talking about a family funeral, and yet, I am going to firmly report that I am “happy.”
Happiness is not a minute-to-minute thing. Happiness is an over-all contentment that your life is basically good, that the choices you’ve made are generally working out for you, that your responsibilities are generally manageable, and that everything’s going to be okay in the end. No one can give that to you, either. You must create it, day-by-day, through your actions.
Epilogue – I must have written this blog post originally around March of 2006. Since then, my sweet Nino has died. So have 2 other cats we had when I wrote this post. R.I.P. Mowsers and E-Kitty. So has my father. And my Mother-in-Law. And my Grandfather, and a number of friends.
Although I completed the Breast Cancer 3-Day walk, my friend from graduate school did not. She developed health issues and I was forced to train and walk without her.
Since I wrote the original post, I got hit by a car and was bed-ridden for 4 months, was then in a wheelchair for 2 months, then on a walker for about 3 months, then a cane for about another 3 months. I missed the 2009 and 2010 P.F. Chang’s Half-Marathons completely and didn’t even remotely consider the Breast Cancer 3-Day.
The cousin who had sent me the thank-you card no longer speaks to me. Nor does his brother. Or their mother. Or her brother. Or my brother.
So, you’d think I’d be pretty unhappy now, wouldn’t you? Well, the truth of the matter is that I am still very happy and again it is because I choose to be.
Having to train for the Breast Cancer 3-Day without my friend led me to seek other companions and I encountered a neighbor who was also training for the walk. Since then, I have remained friends with that neighbor and her daughter, have hired their house cleaning business and their pet-sitting business and have attended the wedding of the daughter.
I did not miss the 2011 P.F.Chang’s half-marathon. Although I walked it, and I walked it slowly, I walked it with a pelvis repaired by titanium, skilled surgeons, and God’s grace. And, I walked it with a delightful new friend met through connections opened up when friends of friends monitored my accident recovery.
We have new cats who I love just as well as the ones who have gone on. Although I will never have another father or grandfather, and Mary Archer is irreplaceable, I carry them within my heart and bring their legacies into my life by carrying on healthy traditions they taught me. I have celebrated the lives of my friends who are no longer with me and have opened my heart to new friends.
I am sad about the family members who have cut me off and shut me out and I am also able to let them have the space to do that if that’s what they feel they need to do without taking it personally. I didn’t do my best under the circumstances and have apologized for mistakes I made. I am satisfied with how things stand and maintain hope for the future.
So, once again, I encourage you to create your own happiness, day by day, through your actions and your perceptions!