Monday, December 13, 2010

Thoughts on happiness and being real

There is never an end to advertisements. TV, movies, magazines, radio, billboards... Celebrities, actors, retailers selling this and telling us what we NEED to have value. To feel good about ourselves. To be accepted. To be happy. To keep up with the latest things. Advertising is designed to keep us wanting more and more and be dissatisfied with what we have.

Happiness is something we are always looking for as though it's a destination and once we get there we will have arrived! Many people feel this time of the year that if their homes and lives don't resemble a Currier and Ives Christmas card or some other ideal then they have reason to be dissatisfied or even depressed during the holidays. I've found that life is too unpredictable for happiness to be a destination because when we find it, it inevitably disappears or changes. I believe happiness comes in little snippets in our lives. We can live in a way which brings happiness. We can choose to do what makes us happy (like having a peanut butter cookie!). We can choose NOT do what does NOT make us happy (like eating a whole DOZEN peanut butter cookies!). It doesn't have to do with a bunch of "stuff". In fact, a bunch of "stuff" can make us very unhappy as it clutters up our thinking, our lives, and homes! I recently heard happiness described as "small rather than big, and always closer than you think." I liked that.

It's as simple as enjoying a warm fire or reading a good book. It's the joy we get from making healthy choices for ourselves or doing a kind deed for someone else. It's cleaning the clutter off the kitchen counter or putting on comfortable shoes. It's breaking that bad habit. It's seeing progress being made or learning something new. It's cleaning out that closet or getting rid of things weighing you down. It's sitting down with someone you love and really listening or giving (or receiving) a hug. It's incorporating as many of these things into our lives that we can.... It's NOTICING. It's appreciating. It's slowing down or stopping long enough to think about life a little deeper than just the next thing we can do to please ourselves. Doing the right thing. None of these things carry a price tag.

Some things in life are meant to be endured. No one is exempt from all suffering. Pain is part of being human. Wrong choices bring consequences that can be uncomfortable and yet, we HAVE to go outside of our comfort zone if we are going to grow and have a character that is of any worth. I'm beginning to believe that's why so many people have such weak characters today. They are only wanting to be comfortable and do what makes them feel good... having personal happiness to be their ultimate goal in life. Gaining "happiness" at the expense of growing in character and being real is not going to ultimately bring what we are seeking.

On a slightly different topic, I had an interesting talk with someone this week that has stuck with me. We were discussing how Facebook and social networks can be a double-edged sword. He said that it's a wonderful place for the exchange of ideas and interacting with genuine people, but it is no substitute for real life. He said "I'm not always the smiling guy in my picture and copying and pasting a Tolstoy quote doesn't mean I read War and Peace." Good point. I like to be inspired and getting out of my own little world sometimes...but mostly I like "real". I think we can be real... and be happy too.

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. -- Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross

Just a few somewhat disjointed thoughts....


  1. Eating 12 peanut butter cookies doesn't make you happy? It does me.

    Just kidding. This post was beautifully written and quite deep, but I'm too tired to come up with anything very thoughtful to say. Love you!

  2. "The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths."

    I loved that. And it reminds me of you and your beauty Kathy. I enjoyed your thoughts - as always.

  3. Beautiful Post! I feel like I have written this a hundred times too. Your thoughts are so similar to mine. Happiness is never if or when as so often can be the trap. I often have to take the time to remind myself, if I'm not happy now I won't be any happier if or when anything changes or I get something new. That's the challenge though, embracing life as it is with an attitude of gratitude and being happy no matter what situation you find yourself in. I especially like the part about the cookies! ;)