Happiness

“Are you happy,” she queried. I thought about it for a second. She continued, “You know I always ask you that.” I didn’t. I did not recognize the repetition until she mentioned it.

Are you happy?

Am I happy?

It’s such a simple question that only needs a simple response but requires thought and demands honesty of self. In that moment I replied, “I mean, yea. I’m glad I left. I have been enjoying time with family. I haven’t been able to do that as much in the last 12 years.” She smiled. I paused in thought. She responded knowingly, “But that has made you complacent.” I confirmed with a solid, “Yea.”

Am I happy?

I don’t recall anyone ever asking me that. Well, I mean, she did; but other than her, I can’t think of anyone. Honestly, that doesn’t mean someone never had, just that I don’t remember. That’s still sad. As many deep conversations as I had and have with so many people, I don’t recall happiness really being a topic of focus.

Am I happy?

I heard and read varying thoughts on happiness. Most of them sound like, and I’m paraphrasing, “Happiness is what you make it. Whether or not you are happy is your responsibility. Happiness is a choice.” Ultimately, I got the sense that happiness is intrinsic. I’m not arguing that at all; however, I do not believe happiness is exclusively intrinsic.

I believe that people, places, circumstances play a role in one’s level of happiness. I do not believe someone in an abusive relationship can truly be happy until they get out of it. Working in stressful, negative environments can impact someone’s level of happiness. I do believe it is an individual’s responsibility to assess what is inhibiting their happiness and do something about it. But I feel like, fear, that happiness hasn’t really been a topic of conversation because it doesn’t matter…because it’s intrinsic…you need to figure out for yourself why you aren’t happy. And the other question that comes to mind is if we feel people really care or not if we are unhappy.  How many times are things brushed off with some semblance of, “life goes on.”

Who, then, really wants to admit they are unhappy? What is the manifestation of unhappiness?  Was your answer depression? (I’m curious. Write in the comments what you think the manifestation of unhappiness is.) Truthfully, depression could be the answer but that’s not always the case.

Am I happy?

Why haven’t I ever really asked myself that question? Let me take that back. I have asked myself that question but not with such transparency.

Here’s what I know:

obama-thumbs

Thumbs Up

  • I get to spend more time with my family. I love these people. I would put my family against anyone else’s for the Family of a Lifetime Award.  Spending time with them has been so frigging refreshing.
  • I am in a more peaceful place. A place where I can stop and think about me.
  • I’m doing things I said I wanted to do – blogging, painting, learning to sew.
  • I am resting.
  • I am taking care of me.

 

US-SHOOTING-FUNERAL-OBAMA

Thumbs Down

  • Establishing a social life in a new place is a bit of a challenge.
  • I’m ready to get back to work. (This correlates with the aforementioned bullet).
  • I do not want to live in this city.
  • Bullet 3 means I am again pulled away from my family.  This goes back to what she said about being complacent.
  • The job search – figuring out what I want and aligning that with postings.

Am I happy?

I don’t think happiness is a fully saturated thing.  You can be happy with many things in your life and still be unhappy with a few. I think you bask in the good while working on those that don’t quite make the list. I think happiness, like many things, is relative.  Sometimes you have to experience challenges to appreciate what is or was.  Hindsight is always 20/20.

I think happiness is intrinsic (though not exclusively). I think it’s built. I think it’s an assessment of your surroundings and adjusting.

“Are you happy?”  I’m glad she asked. It made me think about happiness, my happiness, over the last few days. Hopefully, you’ll think about it too.

“It was Communion Sunday…”

I believe I shared in another post I have met a lot of new family members lately.  One gentleman I met, Michael, an artist who is living between California and Mississippi, is a talker.  He can talk for minutes on end, keep you on the phone so long that you wonder if his body functions like a normal human needing sustenance or release.  Interestingly enough, he is fully aware of his exhaustive story-telling.

I enjoy story-tellers, I am one myself. It’s great to be quiet sometimes and listen to people talk, reminisce about “this one time…”  When Michael realized he was wandering off, he would bring himself back to the topic at hand. Once, he stopped to talk about how his mother held conversation.  He said, “She would try to tell me about when she spoke to my brother and say, ‘I spoke to your brother about two weeks ago…well, it was on a Sunday…it was Communion Sunday,’ you see how this is not relevant to the story,” he said.  He laughed as he thought about how long the conversations could be with her as she thought out loud – each thought having their own mini monologues. But isn’t that the fun of conversation?

I have a friend who has a degree in Biology like I do and our dialogues jump off the tracks soooo many times! Mostly, they divert to some nerdy application of our education to the topic.  Last time we spoke, we had a list of things to look up once we ended the conversation: how rice is grown, pussy willows, “those plants that look like hotdogs on a stick,” pineapple plants and cranberries. I can’t recall what we were discussing in the first place but I know there were a couple of diversions that got us there.

I feel we get too busy to have a great dialogue with someone.  There seems to be something more important on social media, some movie we don’t want interrupted, some project we have to do, some album that just dropped, some thing that is more important than making (or strengthening) a relationship with another human being.  Let’s be honest, real relationships are rarely built through social media. Then again, how are we defining “real?”  Some don’t have real relationships with the people right in front of them. Maybe that’s why we find something else to focus on – something that makes us feel connected, a part.

I am both guilty of and frustrated by this.  I mean, some things take so much focus that stopping to answer the phone isn’t worth it.  Equally, we all need time to ourselves for self care and can do whatever the heck we want with that time. I’m merely pointing out I am aware of how many people put in their headphones while sitting in a full room. Families forgoing conversation at restaurants because they are all on their phones.  My most memorable moments are when I put the phone up and engage those around me. I’m almost annoyed I need to keep my phone on me in case of emergencies. I sometimes wish we could go back to payphones and quarters.

dinner

Let me take a moment to divert from the main topic, as I would if we were sitting and talking in person, to tell a funny story about payphones and quarters. I, like many youth, had my days of threatening to runaway when I was a kid. One day I was so angry that I went into my mom’s purse, took a quarter and rode my bike to the library without telling her beforehand.  I felt rebellious and brazen, chest-puffed out. I might have been as bold in actuality as I was in my head with the exception of leaving her a note to tell her what I did and where I went. LOL! On top of that, the library?!

Anywho, sometimes it is a little annoying to stop and converse with someone because they aren’t talking about anything you’re interested in, or you feel you could be doing something better with your time, but I don’t think there is anything better to do with your time than to make someone else’s life better.  Pausing to listen to someone can make a big difference in their day. With as little dialogue as we are having these days, there are sure to be some pretty lonely people out there. Just stop and listen, and maybe even share.  You may walk away with something inspiring, enlightening or give them something to walk away with. I, personally, feel a conversation isn’t fruitful unless either of us walked away with something – a memory, a laugh, a challenge of thought, etc.

Well, on that note, it’s been nice talking to ya. I’m going to get back to watching Footloose and continue some art projects. Until next time folks. 🙂