I love movie characters who show unglossed disdain for whiners. I especially like the wise, old codgers who advise the desperately-seeking-happiness set to get on with the business of life and quit wallowing around like self-indulgent, spoiled inheritance brats.
I definitely think that there’s something privileged about devoting time and energy to “finding happiness.”
As I think about my resolutions for the coming year – things I want to accomplish, change, learn, share, I can’t help asking if pursuing happiness is incongruous with the value of just shutting the eff up and getting on with it.
Einstein is credited with saying that there are two ways of looking at the world – as if there are no miracles or as if everything is one. The more I think about (and read about) happiness, the more it seems to me that maybe we just need reminding that we are, in fact, happy.
The most recent example of this is in my own household. I haven’t been feeling very “wonderwoman” this week and it has made me testy (read: bitchy). My poor hub did his best to dive-bomb in support while steering clear of the indiscriminate scud missiles of nasty I was firing off. As usual, my zen master of common sense dispensed wisdom that both chastened and inspired me.
It was something along the lines of, “I hope you can be happy tomorrow.” I am not unhappy was my instinctual reply. Unhappy people are miserable bitches who make everyone around them miserable too…. oh, shit.
There’s another embarassing truth at play here. My husband is not American. Ergo, it is more painfully obvious to him than most when I show every emotion I have at the exact moment I have it. Americans as a rule have no filter for politeness or decorum or shame. We are a selfish, showy lot. It mortifies me. I’d kill to have a stiff upper lip. But no, I’m a bawling mess of emotions even when I’m not hormonal.
As soon as he shared his simple wish for me, I started counting up all the ways I’m lucky instead of all the previously-glaring have-nots that were bumming me out. I didn’t suddenly pay off my debt, get skinny or move into a polished mansion. All that changed was my perspective. So is that it? Is all this fuss really that easy to alleviate?
Maybe so. At least for me.
If there is one thing common amongst my Phacebook Phriends, it is that everyone seems to have a moan or groan about 2010 to share. I don’t know anyone who has posted something joyful or celebratory about how the last year treated them. Perhaps that’s indicative of the economy. Maybe every year is like this and I’m just noticing because I can easily jump on their bandwagon of crab. In any case, each post seemed an invitation for me to one-up my acquaintences for “worst year ever.”
But what is the sense in that?
I’m a big believer in speaking your mind. Legitimate grievances, to be fair, need airing. The generic whining that is a poor excuse for most conversation does not, however, qualify. Not even close. Complaining doesn’t actually make people feel happier. It doesn’t change your plight. It spreads your miserable dissatisfaction to others and invites the snowballing of poor-me syndrome.
So yes, I will set out my resolutions tonight and tomorrow. I will outline some things that will make me happi-ER and some things that will make those around me happier. Of all these, the most important ones (and probably hardest to keep) will be to shut up about whatever it is giving me a sourpuss (jelly belly, skinny savings, dust bunnies, etc.) and just get on with it.
It is, after all, a wonderful life.
Happy New Year.