Happiness: A Decision?
I read this book that said you could just make the decision to be happy regardless of what happens in life. I thought, really?
Is this possible? Could I just decide to be happy all the time? What about when my kids leave the living room a mess? What about when someone snubs me at the office? What about when the dog eats my brand new shoes? What about when my son challenges me in every way — every day?
I don’t think so. Not that it isn’t possible — just that I don’t think that I can do it. I am pretty committed to getting pissed off a lot. Why though? Why does just being happy seem to be such a hard thing to do?
What if I was undisturbed by outward events? What if I was undisturbed by internal events? It just doesn’t seem possible and yet it does. I think what is daunting to me about this process is that I would have to stay present all the time so that I could see when I was becoming disturbed and let it go before it hooked me.
I don’t know if I can do it but I am going to experiment with it to see if maybe just maybe I can be happier. It seems ridiculously simple, and wonderful and impossible.
I think it seems impossible because if I admit it - I like my preferences and my ways and my stuff. I like being committed to having a way and insisting that things go according to my plans. It isn’t something that I like about myself but it is something that I like on some basic level that, if I am honest, I don’t really want to give up.
I can remember a long time ago in therapy - my therapist asked if I wanted to just shelve my anger and rage for a bit - just set it on the shelf and come back for it if I needed it. I can remember really considering it and feeling as though she was asking me if I would like to take out an eye and just leave it there and come back for it later. I mean who would I be without my anger? It gave me a personality, it made me feel safe, it was such a large part of who I was. (Maybe still am sometimes). What she knew (that I could not fathom) was that I was not my anger - I was being marginalized by my anger. I was being sidelined for the anger star and it really wasn’t getting me anywhere at all - well, except with a lot of other angry people in my life.
I think back to when I was first angry - there are lots of very good reasons from childhood and adolescence for me to be angry about...but I think that anger was really just a cover. I was able to feel safe and protected as long as I was angry and pissed a good deal of the time. I got my way too - or so I thought. What I really got was to feel and be alone. As I have said before on many occasions - no one really wants to be around an angry person so when you are super pissed off people leave you alone. Which may be fine in the moment, but in the end, you wind up alone and not feeling like anyone cares about you. And while that is not the complete truth, it is easy to believe since it can be outwardly proven by the number of people that are actively avoiding you.
In the final analysis, I don’t think it is really all that important what pissed me off in the first place. I think that it is more important that I be willing to let it go now. I have made a lot of decisions in my life - and it seems ridiculous now to say that I have to go back in time and pick one decision and then make it over and over and over again. Like in the 80s, when I dyed my hair electric blue. What if I had to go back and make that decision over and over and over again? Isn’t that what I am doing with anger and the decision to not be happy?
Anger is really all about resisting what is happening. Anger is the idea that things should be different. I think that happy comes in a different form. Happy doesn’t need anything else - doesn’t need for things to be different or better. Happy just takes a look around and says, ok! All is well and I don’t have a desire to make it different.
I am a lifelong resister - I have seen life and the people about me as pawns to be moved by me in some sort of fucked up chess game. I don’t think that I have ever really thought that it could or should be different until more recently. Maybe the whole of happiness is just to accept whatever is happening as the way it is supposed to be without adding anything extra like “this is going to last forever," or “this is going to be fucked up forever,“ or "this is going to be wrong forever.” I think that I have a hard time with acceptance because it feels like affirmation. It isn’t. Things can still really be fucked up and wrong and bad and futile - but I don’t have to get all pissed off about them.
My daughter used to ask me when she was very young, “Happy mommy?” It used to kill me how often she would ask me that and I would have to answer no. Most of the time it was a game changing question - I would see that I was acting like an asshole - and I would immediately change my perspective and behavior. Sometimes it would be a spear to my heart because I knew that I was not happy and worse yet, I wasn’t even going to try to change the way I was feeling and behaving. Sometimes I think that I like feeling badly so much that feeling good feels like I am cheating myself out of feeling like shit.
So do I really want to be happy? Seems like a lot to ask of me. I am not sure that I could do it but I am even less sure if I even want to do it. Looks like I am going to have to spend some time thinking about why, when given the choice, I pick so many other things instead of happy? Happy is always right there available to me. Just as easy to pick up as any of the rest of my emotions and feelings - so why do I always chose the heavy mantle of anger? Why would anyone pick that? I don’t have a clue but know that I do it all the time...every single day. Fuck! Now that I see it and can admit it, I am going to have to do something about it. Maybe decide to get happy about it? I will try...even though it seems like a lot to ask!