(*…is something I do not have, sorry.)
I consider myself a decently happy person. It’s true. I mean, is the world an increasingly frightening place in which to bring up my children and is the list of my chronic pain, fatigue, and immuno-related illnesses piling up like some barely insurable Dagwood sandwich for which I’ll need way more than a handful of napkins (proving, yet again, that not only am I part of the problem, I might actually BE the problem, environmentally speaking)?
Yep. (Also, did I lose you at Dagwood?)
That said, I try to keep a positive attitude for most scenarios and days of the week. (Most.) So why isn’t it always enough? I think I can break it down into two reasons:
I am not, to the best of my knowledge, a time-shifting, omnipotent goddess of smiting abilities. Sometimes really stupid stuff happens to, around, and at me. This causes sadness.
I don’t always ask myself what makes me really, really happy. This leads to guilt, stress, obligation, anger, heavy bourbon drinking, and- you guessed it- sadness.
So, I ask you/me: What makes you/me really, really happy?
Doing nothing. Sure, on paper, this sounds a lot like laziness. (And, haha, sometimes it is, even without the paper!) But I’m a champion putterer. If my week doesn’t include a crazy amount of built-in time to rearrange bookshelves, start household projects, and read the New Yorker on the couch while eating peanut butter out of the jar, then I become a little…crabby. Let’s go with…crabby. Problem is, a lot of that “building in” can so easily turn into “scheduling” and then “over-scheduling.” Which makes me…crabby.
Art projects. I am one hundo-percent serious about this. Even though the entirety of Pinterest gives me an intense amount of anxiety, I’m at my happiest when I’m crafting brightly glittered things with my kids that literally no one will ever see. I think I was an early ed art teacher in another life. A lazy one.
Napping. (Maybe I should get my iron levels tested.)
Reading improbable sci-fi and even more improbable romance novels. (Maybe I should get my “escapism” levels tested.)
Sitting at the ocean. Or in the ocean. Or, in a pinch, the lake. (Streams jive, too.)
Writing. Grocery lists in shiny purple ink, blog posts that occasionally go nowhere (…see?), mysteries of the most sarcastic variety, and poetry that rhymes. (Kidding. I gave up that nonsense in the great WHO Saw My Journal in 7th Grade English, Period 4?! debacle of 1993.)
Second question: What do you/I need way less of?
Saying yes to everything.
Social media after 6pm.
Self-imposed rules. (<—See: Posting on a Friday, not a Thursday. Ha HA rebellion!)
Self-imposed anything, darn it.
And, to follow-up, what would you/I like to increase?
Old movies with scores and technicolor gowns.
Reading books without having to tell a damn person what you thought about any last detail in it (unless, of course, you want to. <—See, again: Self-imposed rules)
Vodka tonics on stoops with friends.
Picnics. The kind where, when my kid asks if she can pack an entire bag of bread or a stack of fancy napkins I’ll just shut the heck up with my “but I just folded those…” and realize that I can make a choice between creating a picnic memory of joy and creating a picnic memory of insane uptightness, nit-pickiness, and maybe I DON’T want to call mother in the nursing home.
Looking my kids in the eyes when they ask me a question.
Sitting on my husband’s lap when he asks me a question. (Sure, it be occasionally be awkward and time-consuming, but I think we can all agree that intimacy > personal boundaries, right?)
So, no, I don’t have the answer to the “happiness” riddle.
(And maybe I should stop putting it in quotes.) But maybe laying it all out in lists like this reminds you/me to occasionally take stock of our personal stressors and make some easy eliminations? Feel free to use mine as a guideline.
But hey- you do you. And if you feel so moved?
Rhyme that poetry.