Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Step One

What is happiness?

Merriam-Webster defines it like this:

1: obsolete : good fortune : prosperity

2a : a state of well-being and contentment : joy b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience

3: felicity, aptness

Examples of HAPPINESS
They made a toast to long life and happiness.
Her happiness was complete when she got her very own house

By definition, happiness is a thoroughly subjective and intangible thing. Each individual's happiness is determined by their personal expectations, experiences, and desires. With no set criteria to obtain happiness, no predetermined route, and no guidelines to ascertain whether or not you've reached it, happiness can seem elusive to those in search of it.

So how do you define happiness? How do you decide whether or not you've found it?

There are countless books written on the subject of happiness. Books written about personal journeys in search of it; books written from different religious perspectives telling you how the author believes you can best find it; and books discussing the subjectivity and perceived unattainability of it. I find the subject fascinating.

Is it possible to be happy if you're satisfied with parts of your life, but not all areas of life? Is true happiness long-term gratification or can you be truly happy living day-to-day in the here and now? Can people without God or religion find happiness? Who or what determines your personal happiness?

As I begin my own personal happiness journey, I am pondering all of these points. I also ask myself, "Why?" Why am I embarking on this personal journey? What am I hoping to learn? What am I hoping to gain? Am I currently unhappy? If so, what do I think I can do to change that?

I think that in order to gain anything from this process, I must first figure out where I stand right now. I must determine my current state of happiness. I need to identify what is triggering this personal journey and how to quantify if I've made any change. I don't think of myself as an unhappy person. But I don't really think I am at a place of satisfaction with myself and my life.

I am intolerant of my children and quick to snap when they've pushed my limits.

I don't treat my loved ones with the same respect I treat a stranger or an acquaintance.

I prefer snuggling with my dog over my boyfriend.

I am rarely able to identify things I am good at or like about me, but in a second, I could rattle off a short list of things I think I should change about myself.

I am not proud of what I do for a living. Actually, I find myself feeling embarrassed when someone I grew up with comes in and sees that I am just a bartender at the same restaurant I have worked at since I was a teen.

I don't feel I am properly motivated. Although I have a list of things I should do to better myself, I am perfectly complacent doing nothing about it.

If I were happier, would these behaviors change? Or do I need to change these behaviors to be happier?

As I read more on the subject of happiness, I am learning that the journey to a happier life is a series of steps and goals that are based solely on what is important to me. So my first step in my happiness journey will be identifying the areas in which I am least satisfied. I am discovering that happiness journeys, or happiness projects are really quite common these days and often consume the time frame of a year. I am not about to put a timeline on this at the early stage, but I do know that my lifestyle doesn't permit this journey to be a huge upheaval of what is currently my norm. So welcome to my happiness journey - tweaking my life one day at a time in the search for self-satisfaction.


Renegades said...

Good luck on your happiness journey.

Unknown said...

Ok so you are a bartender.. which means you are a people person, you are good at what you do and your bosses think highly of you to still have you after all this time. You have seen people in various parts of their own journies and you know where it works and where it doesn't. I think bartenders are underpaid psychotherapists in reality. Drunk men tell no lies my memaw always said. I think happiness is all about your perspective. What some might look at as normal or boring may represent happiness to you. HOme , health, love and friends are important for the journey

chele said...

I found you through the PYHO link. You raise some excellent questions about happiness. Some that I've often asked myself. I do consider myself a happy person. I have found contentment with my life and I am no longer frustrated about things I don't have. That makes me happy. Good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

I feel the same when people find out I am phlebotomist. It is almost like Yea, I can't do anything more than stick a needle in someones arm - but I really have a degree but just am not currently using it.

Happiness is all about you. What pleasures you. What keeps you going. Screw everyone else and their judgemental ways.

Ian said...

And you have truly gone above and beyond in this first step. Well done

Aunt Crazy said...

I wish you luck on your happiness journey. As moms, we lose ourselves in the daily struggles. I think it happens so fast, before we realize it, that it is almost inevitable. That's what happened to me. Once I decided that I had to make me happy, that no one else could, I began down that road. I'm still on it. I feel like I'm making huge progress though. I know you can do it.!

Aunt Crazy said...

p.s. that old saying "if momma ain't happy ain't nobody happy" rings true in many forms and once you find your happiness the happiness in the rest of your life will naturally progress.

Shell said...

Good for you for taking this journey.

For me, I try to find the little things that i am happy with. It might not be much or maybe something that someone else would roll their eyes at and say THAT makes you happy??? But, I have to see those small things to get me through the rest of it.

Babes Mami said...

Good luck! I will love reading about your journey!

Cori said...

All I gotta say is GOOD LUCK GIRL! Can't wait to hear all about it!

Alicia said...

i wish i had the answers for you! but i know you have amazing drive and a true passion to be happy, so i know that this journey will take you to your happy place :)

One with many names said...

grwat post thank you for sharing!

Unknown said...

Wow. I am reading all these deep posts tonight. I think you hit the nail right on the head when you said that it comes with making good choices each day about the small things. All together they add up to something big and changes will occur.

I think that the older I get the harder it is to be happy. So many things weigh you down as you get older. The kids. The job. the MONEY! Life! It just gets stressful. Wishing you all the best on your journey.

Robin said...

I wish you much success as you search for your own definition of happiness. I wish more people were taught as they grow up that they get to define their own happines. So often we let society or our parents define what happiness should look like for us. Defining it for ourselves can be difficult but I believe it is so worth it.

Kristi said...

Good luck on your happiness journey!

How Sweet It Is-A lifestyle blog said...

Whatever you are in life be happy doing it. Trust me I have known plenty of high powered execs, Drs., lawyers who were NOT happy doing what they were doing. If you are happy at your job then that's all that matters.
At the end of the day, you are providing for your family and if someone doesn't like it then they can go screw themselves.

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