Where Logic Meets Love

Lessons in Happiness

Saturday, October 2, 2010

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Lessons in Happiness | Faith Permeating Life
In an effort to find things that make me happy, I've been spending some time on Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project site.

One common type of post on the Happiness Project is a "happiness interview," in which Gretchen interviews some person about their thoughts on happiness. One question she always asks is "What's something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?"

What's so interesting about this question for me is that I think I had a better handle on happiness at 18 than I do now. I just spent part of the afternoon reading through things that Mike and I wrote to each other in college, and this led me to find a project I'd created in high school and given to Mike our sophomore year of college. A treatise on my worldview, as assigned by my English teacher, titled "Portrait of an Optimist as a Young Woman." (I'm sure you can guess what we were reading at time.)

What I mean is this: Remember this post on how my life was perfect and I was finally happy? Well, I was right. That didn't last. Don't get me wrong: I still love my husband, my friends, my apartment, and (again, recently,) my job. But all it took was six months of mono and some total asshats at work to make me have a complete depressive breakdown.

This is what I get for investing my happiness into my external experiences rather than myself. High-school me would have a right to slap me upside the head. She got it. It's about how you see yourself, and how you deal with what happens to you, that really matters. Not about what happens to you.

[Here's what I don't get, though. This project was done in the spring of my junior year, which was by all accounts the most miserable of all of my high school years, so much so that I have a distinct memory of a February diary entry that I wrote documenting my complete emotional shutdown. I couldn't handle the emotional pain I was going through, and, not being one for substance abuse, I just became completely and utterly numb. I stopped feeling anything. It took until my freshman year of college for me to be genuinely open to my emotions again.

So how happy was I, really? Was it just the absence of pain, the lack of caring, that allowed me to be so positive? I really have no idea.]

I'm trying now, one step at a time, to build back that sense of internal peace and joy that can withstand anything that happens. I'm trying to be more patient with Mike by understanding that my happiness is not dependent on anything he does or doesn't do. I'm trying not to worry too much about the future, keeping in mind that every time in my life that I have had a clear view of where I wanted my life to go, it never turned out that way anyway.

I'm going to try taking out my old rose-colored glasses, dusting them off, and seeing if they still fit. And if they don't, I'll find myself a new pair.


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