Most days at work, I listen to music. But in the mornings, or in the dead of the afternoon while I'm willing my body to stay awake, I turn to TED. Hopefully all of you know of TED talks. If not, you need to remedy this quickly. With an array of topics, I can listen and learn about an intensely specific topic in the span of 6-25min (the varied length of the videos). The presenters, and presentation locations, are from all over the world. You can learn about things that are culture-specific, or things that are pervasive of every culture. Today's first talk that I'll share has to do with happiness. I'm sure this doesn't surprise you ;)
I thought it interesting how she touched upon the idea of happiness pursuit vs. ordinary misery. And moreover the fact that happiness isn't just a lack of ordinary misery. That there are things that must also occur to create happiness. That happiness, to most people at least, isn't just a sense of complacency. That being content with life is important, but there must also be things that invigorate you, that inspire you to live and love and continue to better yourself.
I think in a lot of ways I was stuck in a place of contentment. Except that I wasn't content with that. I had given so much of myself towards creating the happiness in another that I lost myself. I lost myself in effort, but also because that effort didn't feel as if it was being returned. And no matter how much I gave, it didn't make the situation any better. Instead of working to climb a wall, I was digging a well. (Funny, the drastic difference a letter makes)
Unfortunately, this idea of "ordinary misery" and happiness being a lack of that is a common thought in society. It seems stupid, but it is. I know that for a fact because I ran up against it in my conversations with friends and family. And my inability to make them understand that lack of misery in my situation was not enough...especially when I was so quickly digging myself into misery in trying to help nourish a relationship that was not nourishing me.
And now? That happiness is on me. It's daunting but relieving at the same time. I'm no longer killing myself to provide the happiness for two and making myself less happy in the process. I am focusing on the adage "you cannot help others if you do not first help yourself"....something like that. This is my "me" time, because I need to be happy in me before I can ever take that on again. And I can already see the effect of this; I'm smiling, laughing, and enjoying more...of life.
I don't know what that has done to, or says about, my ability to receive action that creates happiness from others. Or my optimism/pessimism that that is even a possible outcome. I would like to think it is. I think I believed it at one time. I think love makes a person believe that until experience proves otherwise.
This has actually been a topic of conversation with a friend more than once recently. The idea of trusting another person to take action toward your happiness. Knowing they will fulfill and nourish you as you do the same for them. Not having to worry about providing for yourself and thereby safeguarding your heart. I think true, giving love from the right person can accomplish that effortlessly. I think love and happiness is an effort but should never feel like work. I think when two people connect on that level, the act of providing happiness for each other is done without even knowing it is occurring.
Is that outlandish? Is that an unattainable goal? I don't think so. I see that type of happiness in some of my family members and friends when they interact with their spouses. The optimist in me says it has to be out there, otherwise - what's the point?
Until then, you can find me out there creating my own sunshine.