I discovered a book the other day that I haven’t read – so this is probably poor blogging etiquette – but its premise just fascinates me. The title is Happiness is a Serious Problem. And the author suggests that despite the fact that we’re all always shouting from the rooftops that everyone has the right to be happy, very few of us actually are. People are unhappy all the time because they are satisfied with nothing. The author then says that we all have “an obligation” to our children, to our spouses, “and to society” to be happy.
I haven’t read the book, so I can’t thoroughly argue with or back up his reasoning. All I know is, it feels true.
I do feel that I owe Michael a certain amount of contentedness. I fail a LOT. But I like to think that I jump back from the failures more quickly than I used to. I feel that I need to love what I have – and in those things I’m still seeking, somehow find joy in the journey. It doesn’t seem far-fetched, right?
I laugh a lot more since the whole cancer scare. That out loud, good medicine, uninhibited laugh that I used to give Michael all the time before we were dating and I thought every word out of his mouth was the most clever thing I’d ever heard. When I laugh like that, there’s no room for anything but happy. And I like that feeling. And I like the effect it has on the people around me.
I hate it when I wake up one day and realize I’ve been in a bad mood for so long that I can’t remember why it started. I hate it when I complain to Michael about the same thing all the time – some circumstance of my life that I simply cannot change. I hate it when someone says “how you doing” as their greeting and I don’t know what to say because I can’t imagine that they have an hour. I know all those moments will still happen sometimes, but that’s why I want to read that book. So I can quote it to myself and remind myself what I owe.
I think it’s possible. Two-day vacations at the Holiday Inn? Awesome. Half-hour less on the time card because Jake has a cold and needs extra attention? Irreplaceable. And our small, really old house is a lovely place to build memories. And potty training doesn’t last forever. And if we can’t buy every single thing we want, we can sure buy more than we used to. And who needs that other stuff anyway?
It’s really not that awful of an obligation. The author of the book says happy people are more generous. On the society level I think it looks like feeding the widows and the orphans. At home I think it means a laugh. That no matter what reaction Michael gets at work, no matter what the boys experience at school, they can always count on me to get it.