Monday, September 5, 2011

Sunday Sifting :: Being NOT Unhappy

I have a collection of books I have either read, or intended to read, during my quest to find happiness. I’ve read blog posts, status updates and tweets dancing around the topic of happiness.

On Kim’s blog, Muse in the Valley :: Northward Bound, I commented, “Gratitude is the answer. Happiness is not something that can be found outside of us. It is within us and easily felt in gratitude acknowledged & expressed in the moment.”

In a group discussion on Facebook I commented, “I think some who seek happiness believe that they aren't happy because they aren't happy all-the-time. They're always looking outside themselves for happiness, and when someone ticks them off....well, obviously they're not happy. Happiness is in the moment, not in the distant future...."

I was a miserable child; abused repeatedly by various individuals and brought up by someone I perceived as miserable. Happiness was always something illusive and unknown. Happiness was something given to you if you deserved it. Apparently, I did not. Apparently, I wasn’t good enough to be happy.

As I went through therapy as a teenager, my counselor told me that he thought I was afraid to be happy. He was probably right. I had no idea what it meant to be happy. I only knew that it was all I ever wanted…to be happy. For whatever reason, I resisted.

During later adult years, having returned to therapy, I realized that I wouldn’t know a joY-FULL moment if it Gibbs slapped me (NCIS fans will get that). Happiness, it seemed, would remain elusive and unknown.

In her blog post, Don’t Seek Happiness…, Kim shared a quote from The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. It didn’t resonate with me right away.

After allowing her blog post, the discussion of happiness on Facebook and the idea of happiness to percolate for a while I asked myself, “Am I happy?”

Well…I’m not unhappy.

That’s when it hit me. I’m. Not. Unhappy.

“…freedom from unhappiness is attainable now….” ~Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

I haven’t found happiness. It isn't something I can purchase in a store or get from somebody else. It isn't a place I will someday arrive to. It is the journey itself and I have found ways to surrender to the idea of finding happiness, enjoy the journey and not be unhappy.

Over the course of the past several years, I have traded in those books on how to be happy for books on developing my creativity, law of attraction and I subscribed to the idea that "Thoughts become things." (Thank you Mike Dooley). Meanwhile, I have slowly begun to keep track of the joY-FULL moments I experience. To simply take notice of the moments. I’ve stopped in the middle of a belly laugh to acknowledge that I am in fact having a good time and…happy in that moment. I’ve surrendered to the idea that happiness is feeling like Pollyanna all-of-the-time. Being happy does not mean I NEVER have a bad hair day. I can be happy, yet still get angry, experience frustration and disappointment and sometimes feel depressed...but that doesn't mean I'm miserable and UN-happy. For me, happiness is a collection of moments when I am not unhappy. The more moments of not being unhappy I experience, the happier I am. Moments when I:

  • Count my blessings and write a gratitude list
  • Acknowledge myself; whether it’s for doing the dishes or stepping out of the box
  • Do something creative; doodle, collage, make a card, take a photograph, write or art journal
  • Sit on the patio, sippin’ a cuppa and listen to the sounds of the neighborhood
  • Choose to ask my daughter to do her chores; rather than screaming at her for not doing them
  • Send out surprise snail mail
  • Put on loud music and dance around the house
  • Get to tuck my daughter into bed...because she's almost 14 and still wants me to (or, at least lets me) :)
  • Go for a walk, toss a ball for the dog, or stop to admire blooming flowers
  • Can feel the cool delta breeze coming in from the bay and listen to the tree branches rustle

….

These are just some of the joY-FILLED moments I pause to embrace. I continue to string them together creating minutes, hours, days, weeks and months when I can look in the mirror and say:

Well, I’m not unhappy.

For me this huge, after a childhood filled with abandonment, abuse and trauma, because, after all, isn’t that what happiness is? Being. Not. Un-happy.

Share your thoughts on happiness in the comments below. Are you NOT un-happy? Is happiness something you still find yourself looking for? What does happiness mean to you?

9 comments:

  1. I am happy. I find things that delight me. I share my love for Zumba. I share my passion for joy. I dance with people everyday who love being where they are. I get a huge thrill out of seeing women come alive, shedding inches and rediscovering the beauty contained within them. Joy comes in the little everyday things and moments when you are open and allow them to delight you. It's also like a habit...learn to find joy and happiness..no matter what..almost making it a game...and it becomes something you will just naturally do. I've also learned not to think to hard about it. I used to obsess over so much...finding happiness, finding joy, living in the moment, etc. etc. Just learn to let it flow....practice finding joy in the everyday. It gets easier. Thank you for your writing Syda. :)

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  2. Syda! I love that you are continuing the conversation over here, and I love you for opening up, and sharing your discoveries.

    When you asked youself the question: Am I happy and answered I am NOT Un happy... I smiled and stepped back from my computer for a bit.. and said; AHA!!! This, my friend, resonated with me so much.

    I do believe the more we create moments where we are experiencing happy.. the more strings we will have to tie together. .. Being willing to accept and embrace those times of sadness, grief, anger and frustration, will allow us to be present in those moments that we love..

    Thanks for this :)

    Love

    KIm

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  3. Thanks Love! So glad you had an AHA! moment! :) Add another bow to the string! hee-hee.

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  4. Thank YOU! Exactly! I guess the point I was trying to make is that happiness is acknowledging moments of joy. It doesn't mean you never get frustrated, annoyed, or angry (I always thought "happy" people NEVER got angry, sad or had a bad day). It just means those moments don't consume you because you acknowledge the things that bring you joy and rather than sulking on the sofa watching reruns on television, you continue to see, do and experience those little things that bring you joy, :)

    You're doing such a fantastic job at spreading and embracing the joy that every time I hear the word I think of YOU. :)

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  5. Love the raw honesty that you share. I have been thinking about happiness a lot lately. From here and Kim's blog. Life changes bring about happiness or complacency. For me I have experienced both, and lately I can't always see the difference. But what really speaks to me is how you count the moments. I am going to start counting the moments. I think it is those special moments that create the happiness we all crave. Thank you so much for sharing yourself here. By the way, I think I could use a Gibbs slap every now and then. Of course he could make me very happy, LOL ((((((YOU))))) <3

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  6. Thank you! I envision happiness being a string of beads...each time I experience a joyful moment, I add a bead to the line. At the end of the day I have a whole string of happiness to wear. :)

    Oh, I too, could use a Gibbs slap every now and then, but I'd probably enjoy it too much. LOL. xoxo

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  7. Now that is a great way to look at it. I like the idea of a string of beads. Thank you for the metaphor. xoxo

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  8. What I would have defined as happiness not that long ago would be so not what I would define it as right now.I love the Gibbs slap metaphor...I so know what you are talking about.

    Happiness for me right now: those that I've surrounded myself with. Both in life and even over the world of the web; a cup of tea on my comfy couch with a book in a place that is all my own and is what I have made it; having dinner with the girls in my apartment building that I have become friends with, each of us taking turns and cooking dinner once a week for the five or six of us that gather; starting on a quilt that I had no idea I had in me until I got the material and started it; seriously considering starting painting; but as I typed all that out, it made on conculsion clear.

    My Life is what makes me Happy. Well, I think I'm actually IN LOVE with it, for once I can say that and Smile.

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  9. That's wonderful Donna! Thanks for sharing! Happiness is in the now! It's lovely that you have so much that brings you joy. Go YOU! xoxo

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