Thursday, August 23, 2007

My definition of Happiness

I want to join Mel's discussion about happiness and I am already a couple of days behind. I have not read the book she is currently reading, but have read Stumbling on Happiness - a book I very much liked and was likely influenced by.

It's funny how hard happiness can be to define, yet rarely do we not know if we are happy or not. In this moment, I would say that I am not unhappy, but not exactly happy either. (I'm sleeping and having a bit of a poor me day about not getting the FREAKING CHANCE TO HAVE MY OWN GENETIC CHILD AFTER 5.5 YEARS OF TTC, 4 PREGNANCIES AND ONE EARLY INFANT DEATH!) Sorry, not your fault, I shouldn't have yelled at you. But I digress . . . the point is I know happiness when I feel it. As for a definition, that is trickier.

I do think happiness is joy and pleasure and bliss. It is also contentment and that peaceful feeling when I am "in the moment" and present in my experience. I don't think it is about fulfillment or living a virtuous life (was that Aristotle?) although those things can help. I know I have been happy for fleeting moments in really dark times in my life. I have also been very unhappy during happy times in my life. Happiness is a good feeling that makes you smile. Happiness is in the moment - I don't think it exists outside of the emotion. If remembering a past event - or envisioning a future event - makes me happy - it is the current moment that is the experience of happiness.

Hmm . . . I should not quit my day job and become a philosopher! I hope you get some kind of idea of what I mean.

I also think happiness is a choice to some extent. Granted, it is easier when things are going well anyway, but I have found happiness when things haven't been going well. There was a moment - about a year and a half ago now - after being very unhappy over the loss of our son - when I realized expecting a baby to make me happy wasn't very fair to baby. "Welcome, little one. As your first goal in life I would like you to make me happy." Not very fair to a brand new life, I decided. So I set out to find happiness without a child.

I did - again to some extent. I got better at enjoying the moment. I could once again feel the breeze on my face, enjoy my husband's touch, dance and laugh. It is not always easy, but it is much better than living in the dark place I lived in for more than a year.

I also realized that I wasn't all that happy before we started TTC. Well, I was ecstatic compared to some days post TTC. I remember how my husband and I laughed so much easier and so much more often. I remember quietly whispering to each other (to not temp any jealous gods listening in) that we couldn't believe how lucky and perfect our lives were. I also remember getting down about little things. At least things I now think of as little - like not owning a big enough house or getting the right kind of recognition at work or not having enough free time or having bigger-than-I'd-like thighs or many, many other things.

I digress again. Please see the above paragraph in blue and will leave my other ramblings on happiness for another post.


Geohde said...

Yes, I am neither happy nor unhappy.

Part of me thinks that a live baby would make me happy, but I think at this point it will be more of a relief than anything.

Was that bad to say?

Lori Lavender Luz said...

I think your words "in the moment" are key. Happiness is too elusive to plan and can't be in the future.

Sometimes I realized I've been happy only after it's over. This is one reason I want to live more consciously.

K said...

I, too, believe it can be a choice. But I think one has to be ready to make the choice, too.

There are days where I choose to be happy and others, I let myself just be. Those are the tough days.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

I like that you say that it is a choice. And point out the pressure that puts on the child if they are the key to your happiness. But even if it is a choice, it's a lot of hard work that comes with the choice.

Pamela T. said...

It's amazing how many little and big things can add up to detract us from happiness -- making it feel almost fleeting at times. With all the competition for attention it's no wonder than that we have to continually recalibrate and remind ourselves what's required to achieve happiness.

Living in the moment, I hope today is a happy day for you.