Last February, I posted a note on the Fitness Mate blog about The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.
At the time, I was still struggling with my “Schugar” v. “Mama” drama. I wasn’t convinced I’d made a good move to my hometown. There were a 100 challenges in the finance department. So setting up a project for myself was exactly the right medicine.
In January of this year, I wrote about the business of getting on with BEING happy instead of looking so damn hard for it. So obviously this is a theme I like. I hope I’m not getting into the broken record realm of blog posts.
I don’t buy into the whole “this is my lot in life” mentality. I don’t think there is a master plan into which you fit. I don’t think your struggles are your destiny and that there is some great reward for the poor suckers who suffer through. The Beatitudes are a bum rap to keep the oppressed from changing their station. It’s a lot like the promise of 7,000 virgins for Jihad martyrs. And I call ‘Bullshit’.
Everyone deals with a bag of shit at some time in her life.
Some of us experience it early and some of us experience it often. Dr. Phil has made a fairly successful career pointing out the obvious to people who don’t learn from their mistakes and who wonder why they continually experience the same shit.
The real insight is that only one person in this world is responsible for your happiness. YOU.
You either make it or you don’t.
You either live it or you don’t.
You either spread it or you don’t.
Nothing anyone can do or say can interfere with your happiness unless you allow it. That’s the wicked great thing about the incredible complexity of the human mind and spirit.
I’ve lost friends who couldn’t celebrate my happiness with me but chose to spend their time and focus on mourning their perceived missing pieces. The revelations came harshly but once you’ve seen selfishness you can’t unsee it. As with most hindsight, I was able to recognize the signs of pathological Takers only after I’d said goodbye to them.
I’ve heard people complain about having to plan their own happiness, be it weekend activities, trips, dinner parties, birthdays. Their thinking is why doesn’t someone ELSE do this for me? My question back is ‘why would you ever put someone else in the driver’s seat of your happiness?‘
I often repeat a favorite Einstein maxim “There are two ways of living: as if nothing were a miracle or as if everything is one” and once was rewarded for the statement by being called the anti-Christ. This was a pretty clear indicator of an unhappy person.
I find that statement a renewed inspiration every time I hear, read or repeat it. It is so hopeful and grateful a sentiment.
If you’re mourning the loss of Oprah this week, you’ve probably attempted some kind of gratitude exercise during your devotion to the big O. But isn’t there some irony involved in being taught/reminded to be grateful by a woman who has more money than our Treasury department? Of course Oprah is grateful, she could buy the Louisiana Purchase and still have change for a West Wing full of Jimmy Choos.
No, the idea of looking at life as full of miracles is much humbler. Much simpler.
Looking at life as full of miracles requires you to part with your baggage.
Unhappy people are carrying around the belief that they were somehow short-changed. That their suffering is somehow more significant or mournful than that of others. The most unhappy people seek out that suffering so that they can justify their own pity party and invite others to join them.
I love love love the question “Who would you be without your story?” as posed by the clever Byron Katie in her books.
I think many of us get so used to the backstory we’ve been told or have been telling ourselves that we forget to rewrite it when it loses shape, no longer fits, or hurts. As adults we may not grow in physical shape but our personality, spirit, and mind certainly do. Are you still wearing the story from your youth? Your 30s? Your darkest moments? I hate to tell you, but that is SO five minutes ago.
The most obnoxious sap of happiness are people who project their pain onto you. You know who I’m talking about. YOU are the cause of their loneliness, their tears, their absolute desolation. You have my permission to politely tell them to Fuck Off.
If someone’s happiness is tied to you (and they aren’t a minor) then they have some serious emotional and psychological issues that need to be addressed. This is not your issue. It is theirs.
No one has the right to use emotional blackmail to suck you into a vortex of their misery. No one has the right to antagonize, patronize, or use passive aggression to manipulate you into enabling their story.
Not even your family.
DNA is not a life-sentence. Happiness means that it is not by obligation that we socialize, but by choice.
I wish as much happiness as you can find for yourself this weekend.
If you don’t have a plan for finding some happy, make one.
If your happiness will be magnified by the presence of others, invite them along.
If you aren’t sure what to do next, do happy.