Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Happy and You Know It

I like to think that I'm a happy person these days.

Why shouldn't I be?  I have a good job, a wonderful husband, a sweet stepkid, a house of my own, still-married parents, and an amazing circle of friends.  I have money in the bank and all my basic needs are met.  Sure, I go through my sometimes-monthly moodiness and have moments of melancholy (and always adore alliteration), not to mention recent wedding-and-house-buying stress, but for the most part I would say that I'm definitely happy.  At the very least I'm content, and I think that's pretty awesome as well.

It's not that I expect to be happy all the time.  That would actually be boring, not to mention unrealistic.  And obviously, even though I have every reason to be thrilled with life, I'm not always.  It happens.

But I do very much enjoy my happiness.

And, quite frankly, I think I could improve on it.

Mainly, I struggle with the fact that I often let myself get overly upset by the little things.  More specifically, I let myself get overly upset by the little things that I can't control: by the guy who doesn't have his turn signal on but turns anyway, by the client who misses a question that I asked, or by someone not acting exactly how I think they should act.

Coincidentally (or not), I recently read The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, a stunt book (do something slightly crazy for a year and then write about it in a very clever manner) in which Gretchen spends a year trying every means possible to be happier and more invested in her own (already very pleasant) life.

I recognize that this kind of book is not for everyone.  But I find that I'm actually a sucker for the stunt genre.  I adored The Year of Living Biblically, The Know-It-All, and (of course) Julie and Julia, the book/movie that forever changed my attitude about cooking.  I'm unashamed of my love for the year-long-commitment genre of books.  Maybe it's because I do my own yearly commitment to reading at least 50 books.  Maybe it's because I've always subscribed to the mantra of "you can do anything for a year."  Maybe I just like the fact that I'm not the only person who writes excessively about their daily life, and the fact that some people actually become famous by doing so.

Whatever the case, I completely loved The Happiness Project.  Gretchen dealt with a lot of the same issues I have (or have had).  She's a bit of a control freak.  She's messy.  She's a slight hoarder.  She judges herself for the things she enjoys, and struggles with an innate sense of "I can totally make do without this necessary item."

In her book, Gretchen works her way through 12 months of happiness improvement, focusing each month on a different aspect of her life (kids, friends, husband, work, creativity, money, etc).

While I certainly don't intend to undertake a similar project right now, I do feel like I can improve my own happiness in baby steps, mostly by chilling the fuck out and recognizing that I do not have to (and, quite frankly, should not be allowed to) run the whole world.

So far, it's (kindof) working.

I'm trying very hard not to immediately rant when someone doesn't answer my entire e-mail.  I'm trying not to swan dive into automatic road rage (curse words and middle fingers blazing) when other drivers fail to follow common sense road rules.  I'm trying not to think that I know best about what other people should be doing.  Just because I'm multi-tasking doesn't mean everyone else needs to be.

I'm trying, ultimately, to cut other people some slack.

Is venting fun?  Is feeling superior to the idiotic drivers on the road enjoyable?  Hell yes.  Why else would we do it?  But what I'm wondering is if it is actually worthwhile.  I'm starting to think that, instead of innocently blowing off steam, I'm more likely blowing things out of proportion and giving myself a reason to be upset.  Negativity breeds more negativity, at least for me.  Once I start looking for the bad, I can always find more.  And more.

I'd rather focus on the good.  I'd rather focus on and remember Kaylee's joy of waking up and looking for Easter eggs and of opening her Easter basket rather than fixating on her stubbornness the night before.

Life isn't always going to be good.  There are going to be times when I'm going to be sad, or anxious, or sick, or heart-broken, or any number of negative emotions.  I'm going to be criticized, or be frustrated, or furious.  But while I'm happy, and while I can be happy, I don't see the point in blatantly spoiling it for myself for no good reason.

Definitely a happy day.

I can't tell you I'm going to stop being snarky and sarcastic.  Because I'm not.  And if you consider that to be a character flaw or negative trait, then so be it.  But I consider it to be an inherent part of my personality, and I actually do find happiness in a perfectly-crafted snarky comment, particularly when it makes other people laugh.  My favorite relationships (both fictional and my own) are based on the snarky, witty repartee of two people generally giving each other a hard time.

So, I'm not going to turn into Little Miss Sunshine, but I am going to try to stop bitching quite so much about things that don't really matter in the grand scheme.

And I don't care what Yoda says, because "try" is truly the operative word here.

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