Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Pursuit of Happiness

This isn't so much related to the overall theme of my blog. It's just sort of a random thought that requested a forum.

Do you ever look back at prior generations and see couples who stayed married for eternity, literally til death us do part? There was no such thing as couples counseling. Those same people who got into a job and stayed in it until retirement. Who bought a house and made it their home for a lifetime where they raised their family and then had grandchildren come to visit. A simpler time, no doubt. There was no PTSD, antidepressants, therapy. Don't get me wrong. I think that these people were not necessarily happy. I think that marriage was a commitment and people stayed there even if miserable. And I think the same about their jobs. I think the same kinds of bad things still happened and they were just never discussed. Maybe people wanted more for their lives. Maybe not. But I think they made the commitment to be content with what they had. Nowadays it seems that "content" is tantamount to laziness.

Sometimes I think that the idea of pursuing happiness, heck....the constitutional RIGHT to pursue happiness puts the idea in people's head that they are not already happy. Or that we need more to achieve this elusive happiness. Or that if you're not constantly pursuing more, you're just plain indolent.

I belong to a social Yahoo chat group and they are constantly, never endingly trumpeting the call to "raise the bar". Push yourself. Be all you can be. And when you think you already are, try harder. Now....hey.....I'm ALL for self improvement. I'm all for overcoming obstacles. I'm all for setting goals, for accomplishing what it is you want to achieve. But I think this fleeting tease of more happiness....more....more.....more success, more respect, more degrees, more money. Bigger house, nicer car, better looking significant other, expensive toys.... I think it makes everything in life feel like a stepping stone to the next level instead of an actual achievement of it's own. It seems to insinuate that everything is temporary and you need not trifle yourself with really living in the moments of your life. Instead of ever resting and being proud, you miss the opportunity to actually realize and soak in the fact that you may already be happy.

For a while, I lurked in that group and I thought to myself that I wasn't as motivated as they are so I must not be as good, as smart or as self confident. But now I'm starting to think that I'm onto something that escapes them in their pursuit for happiness. I've got my goals and the areas I want to work on. But I'm actually pretty damn content in my life. I feel, for I think the first time ever, like I am living in the days of my life as they come. I don't need to prove my peace to anyone. And whoever wants to see me as lazy....well, let them keep striving for the things they think they need to continually raise the bar. I say there is a point when the bar hits a comfortable height and embracing THAT is success right there.


Enola said...

(insert clapping here)
I totally agree. I am so much more happy now that I've stopped running after the bigger car, salary, etc. After I decided to draw a line and say I'm stopping here. I'm not going to kill myself for my job.

I think there is a small uprising of people doing that. I see a lot of people (women mostly) giving up the bigger monetary pursuits to be SAHMs because they recognize that money isn't all it cracked up to be and that family time is important. Not that I'm looking down in any way on working moms (Since I am one). But gone is the era of both parents trying to break through that ceiling at all costs.

Marj aka Thriver said...

This is aware, insightful stuff. One of the main reasons I'm in therapy to try to stay grounded and not dissociate so much is so that I can begin to live in the moment--something I really want to do. Have you read "The Power of Now?" That's what this reminds me of.

Perfect said...

Marj, I have not read that book but it's one my T has mentioned before and she definitely encourages that kind of mindset to live and enjoy life. I finally feel like I'm getting it. I've noticed less stress & anxiety, more joy, deeper breathing. It's pretty darn cool!!