Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happiness is an inside job


Picture is of the boats on a beach at sunset not too far from where I live.

You know what? I’ve come to the conclusion that most worries and anxieties never ever happen if we don’t pay too much attention to them. If we do pay an inordinate amount of attention I think there is something about the laws of attraction that actualizes the worry for us. A subconscious willingness for the dreaded event to happen – the husband to leave, the money to be gone, the job to disintegrate.

“If only” is the mantra of those who believe that they can’t create their own happiness from within.

If only the kids were grown, if only I was retired, if only he didn’t drink so much, if only she’d lose weight, if only she wasn’t on my case so much, if only the mortgage was paid, if only I could get that Mercedes, if only I could have that big house in the burbs.

I was thinking of a good friend of mine, A, who never seems to be happy. She’s a lovely woman, from my neck of the woods back home. Generous to a fault, puts her money where her mouth is politically, socially very aware. But never, ever happy.

Her mother died when she was nine and she took care of her father and younger siblings and became a teacher. She had a doomed love affair in Ireland. He went off to be a priest and subsequently it didn’t agree with him and he left the priesthood and married someone else. By that stage she had long moved to Toronto and had married a second best. She had three children in three years, a pair of twins following a singleton. Husband was an abusive alcoholic and she left him.

A raised the kids by herself with the help of friends. She‘s the type of person that everyone loves. A brilliant pianist and wonderful conversationalist, active politically, a committed feminist.

When the kids were in their early teens she was at an Irish party and who should walk in but her old love, H. He was a visiting lecturer at U of T. Their love was reignited and within a year he had left his wife and four kids in Ireland and moved to Canada to marry her.

That would make A happy, yes? Well, no. His youngest was still very young so H would spend Christmases and part of the summer in Ireland (staying with his ex-wife). That didn’t make A happy. She felt she deserved all of him. She understood about the kids but thought they should come to him for the holidays. He wanted to be there in his children’s home to give them what they were missing during the year.

This, to me, was the classic example of everyone putting themselves out to make others happy with no one happy as a result.

In the past few years H has been diagnosed with a slow terminal illness and A is now worried about money and the fact that her kids are now grown and have moved off to other continents doing amazing work. She had raised them as socially aware, compassionate world citizens. She had hoped the kids would be around her forever, geographically speaking. A has got a great job, so does H, they have loads of money. But not in her mind.

I came to the conclusion that no matter what happens, A will never be happy.

Like a lot of others. The classic case of always feeling there is something missing. Like the enlightened priest said about confessions:

Isn’t it odd, he said, that when a prostitute comes to the confessional all she can talk about is God and when a priest comes in all he can talk about is sex?

What would make you happy? My ex-husband said to me, way back in the day, I gave you everything you ever wanted: a daughter, a house, a dog and a piano. And you’re still not happy. And he was right.

I still had to grow up then and learn a lot of life lessons that were painful But it is only through pain we grow and I know for sure we can’t skip around it to do that, but we have to walk through it.

How can you be happy, they now say to me. You live alone, you must be sad there is no one there to share your life.

I’m very happy, I say, if HE shows up, all well and good. But meanwhile there’s a life to be lived, and it’s my one and only wild and precious one so I’m going to live it. I make a choice to be happy every morning.

And it’s got nothing to do with my kids or my house or my stuff or my car or my other. But everything to do with how I’m feeling about ME today. And if I’m not feeling that good about me I’d better take a good long hard look at myself and fix what’s ailing me.

12 comments:

  1. Yes, it's odd how some people are never happy even if they seem to have an abundance of everything, while others with apparently very little are always on top of the world. I suppose it's largely a division between optimists and pessimists. Also between people who feel complete whatever their circumstances and those who feel forever incomplete and missing something essential. What the priest said sums it up well.

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  2. And only it would have made the posting way longer, Nick, I would attribute happiness as well to a simplification of our lives, cutting back and down. We spend so much time gathering, guarding and grooming our stuff. It makes life so complicated and time constrained!
    XO
    WWW

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  3. A man I know, is a life-long-victim. He walks like a victim, talks like a victim. Everyone is against him and that everyday something bad is going to happen. He expects kick in the guts 24/7 it's so depressing.
    Fair enough, sometimes I guess maybe karma, maybe just bad luck, unfortunate things happen. Some out of our control and some within.
    Me, I am not sure if I have blurted this out at Nick's or here or maybe never in blogland, bad things happen to me everytime I feel grumpy about something.
    It started when I was small and it has not changed all my life, maybe now I expect and hence call forth the karmic events or somehow sabotage myself, I don't know. I think I will blog about this one. :)
    In my opinion, too, happiness comes from within and is very much independent of material, monetary well-being. (ok, lack of money is tough to deal with but still).
    Great post!
    Gx

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  4. Even a lack of money makes us more creative, Gaye. A friend of mine says it is fairly simple for her. She says it is either a tuna (cheap) day or a salmon (expensive) day. And I've adapted that for my own, it makes life simpler and more connected.
    I agree outlook has everything to do with it and just being bloody grateful for all we do have that does not have a monetary value. Like health and my dog and the view out of my door and the gift of second hand books that just arrived, and.......
    XO
    WWW

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  5. Hi WWW

    Give me the simple life, I say. The more people to interact with, the more complicated it all becomes. I say this as someone who is really, really happy, if a little stressed at present.

    xxx

    Pants

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  6. I agree Pants. Keeping it simple is the way to go. We complicate our lives too much with stuff and people and lose track of the importances and enjoyment of time alone.
    I hope your stress leaves you soon and that your journey to foreign parts goes as planned, notwithstanding frozen Barney.
    XO
    WWW

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  7. Hi WWW

    I've never been happier. I'm a tourist in my own town. Wish I'd done it years ago.

    xxx

    Pants

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  8. I try to keep a balance by being happy with what I've got, but still aspiring to more - I want a bigger house, to travel more, to meet yet more interesting people, and to write more before I retire (and probably afterwards too). But if it doesn't happen I will still enjoy life as it is and has been.

    So have a happy Christmas and New Year - whether it's tuna or salmon!

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  9. Nollaigh faoi shean is faoi shona dhuit.

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  10. Same to you Jenny:
    enjoy the season!
    XO
    WWW

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  11. Go raibh mile maith agat
    agus tu fein, a Bhock a chara.

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