This weekend when I sat down to write today’s post, I had a bunch of great ideas floating around in my brain. They, of course, needed more fleshing out but would make good, solid posts when finished. However, I wasn’t in the mood to write them. Nope. I was feeling goofy and didn’t want to talk about money or mindfulness. I had pep in my step (like my cat, Max, does every day) and wanted to stay in that silly space for a little bit longer. I decided to embrace my goofiness (and write down my post ideas since I’m getting forgetful in my old age), and I’m here to spread happiness today!
Happiness Is Not My Default Mode
Contrary to popular belief: I’m not always happy. And somewhere in Minnesota, my parents are laughing uncontrollably. They know the truth: I am moody. The general disposition I portray to the public is a happy face, so it sometimes confuses (and shocks) people to learn that I can be downright crabby on occasion.
Again, Mom and Dad are laughing out loud. They earned the privilege.
To be honest, it always made me feel weird that people pegged me as being happy all the time. Again, it’s certainly not a bad label to have and I am generally cheerful, but it is a label. A label that is impossible to embody 24/7.
And boy, did I try. And boy, did I fail.
It has taken me 40 years to realize that 24/7 happiness doesn’t exist. We can have a general state of contentment (which is what I am striving for) but that gotta-get-up-and-dance, sing-and-shout and floating-on-air feeling is a treat. A rare treat. And that’s a good thing.
If life was happy, happy, joy, joy 24/7, it would lose its power and become diluted.
Somehow we’ve confused happiness to be larger than life. Fireworks booming in the night sky. Rockets blasting into orbit. Love’s first kiss. We crave over-the-top happiness and expect it to last forever. But it can’t. That level of extreme happiness is unsustainable and only exists on reality TV and exaggerated social media feeds. Real happiness is quieter. It is contentment, peace and wellness.
Happiness doesn’t pound you non-stop, but is encapsulated in special moments that should be treasured and savored. They can be momentous occasions, like saying “I do” to your soulmate or holding your baby for the first time or landing your dream job. They are also ordinary, every day moments, like hugging your purring cat and realizing how good you feel in that moment.
For me, recognizing that my cheer meter doesn’t have to be on 24/7 is such a relief and I more deeply value those happy moments.
Things That Make Me Happy
These days I no longer aim for 24/7 happiness and instead seek overall contentment and appreciation for how good my life is. I don’t ever want to feel entitled to my many blessings and acknowledging them is an easy way to prevent me from turning into a brat. These are just a few things that make me smile.
- My family. Like many people, I under-appreciated them when I was younger and now that I am older and I wiser, I know how special my family is.
- My main man, Max. Ummm … to be clear, he is a feline, not an actual man. He is the Chief Mischief Maker and keeps his Mama on her toes. He makes me laugh every day and snuggling with him always makes me feel good.
- Good friends. We laugh. We cry. We lean on one another. Good friends are a great blessing. My tribe is small but strong.
- Rain and Sun. We got some much needed rain last week, and I loved listening to the rain as I sat on my sofa, wrapped in a blanket. Sun makes me see possibilities and rain gives me a sense of renewal.
- A safe place to live. A warm bed to sleep in. Food in my belly. Clothes in my closet. I may wish someone would clean-up after me, but I am so grateful to live in a great place (where I can rock flip-flops most days).
- Good books and fellow book nerds. I started participating in the Show Us Your Books link-up and it’s so much fun to connect with other fellow book readers. My library card is getting an intense workout and I love it!
- Getting healthy. I’m feeling stronger every day, mentally and physically. I’m setting goals and actually working towards them. It doesn’t mean I always achieve them (ummm … so didn’t last month) but I’m also not quitting either. I’ve got a bunch of recipes lined up to test and most are good-for-you recipes that don’t feel like punishment. I am so going to nail that get healthy goal!
- Being able to be creative every day, here and at Eat Laugh Purr and through my web design services. I do a little jig every time the words flow beautifully, the code works and the design comes together.
- You, dear reader. I appreciate everyone who stops by and joins the conversation. You honor me by spending a few minutes of your day with me. Thank you.
- And finally, I’m happy (and relieved) that Star Wars: The Force Awakens didn’t suck. 😉
If You’re Happy and You Know It …
Come on — sing it with me — clap your hands. I’m clapping my hands and I hope you’re clapping your hands too. And it’s okay if happiness is being a little elusive today. She is a fickle beast. Don’t worry — she will be back so savor those happy moments as they happen.
I told you a few things that make me feel ooey, gooey inside, so now tell me what makes you do your happy dance?
Jana @ Jana Says says
This post wins the week. And it’s only Monday.
YES YES YES to all of this. Well, most. I didn’t see Star Wars.
Thanks, Jana! 🙂 I loved Star Wars growing up and was so glad that the Force Awakens didn’t suck like the prequels!
Jenn @ Optimization, Actually says
Hooray! I actually wrote a similar post to cheer myself up because I’m in a bit of a slump (mine’s not scheduled until later in the week but I feel a bit better just for having written it). I totally agree with you – that high feeling of elation or joy is so elusive and feeling dissatisfied with life in general because we can’t feel it all the time is silly. I’m struggling with just feeling content right now, but it at least feels like an achievable goal.
And I also feel like I come across a lot happier and friendlier in my online persona than in real life. It’s easy to be enthusiastic online – I only typically write posts when I’m in a good mood. Real life is whatever it happens to be at that moment.
It is silly and yet so many of us somehow get stuck thinking that is normal. Life is supposed to be AMAZING 24/7 and that is just not possible. Even if it was, it will simply cease to be amazing because it would now be normal. I struggle with feeling content at times too because I want more. Baby steps! Great point about writing when in a good mood, and I also tend to be in a positive place when I visit and comment on blogs too. Also, it easy to leave a mean-spirited blog and never return, then it is to ignore mean-spirited people standing right in front of you.
Awesome post Tanya! And I love the Ren & Stimpy reference of “happy, happy, joy, joy”. 🙂 I love this post because I feel like we are kindred spirits and I could have said many of the same things that you stated.
And I agree with Jana; your post definitely wins the week!!! 🙂
Yay! Someone got the Ren and Stimpy reference. I’m old, so I didn’t if anyone else would catch it! 🙂 We are definitely kindred spirits, my fellow book-loving, cat-loving, coffee-drinker, love-the-beach friend!
Tonya@Budget and the Beach says
I was never a naturally happy person either. Actually I’m kind of a learned optimist! I think your list is pretty solid and agree with everything. That morning it rained really hard I really wanted to cozy up and crawl back into bed. Welcome to full time work Tonya. lol!
I think being a learned optimist is a really good thing to be. Rain always makes me want to curl in bed or on my sofa with a blanket. That is one bad thing about full-time – rain or shine – you gotta go in. I was so naive when I moved here and didn’t realize how rain panicked people!