Last night, I received a phone call from a rather distraught friend. Despite the fact that it was after midnight and I was asleep; of course I took it. (1) She went on to explain that despite trying her hardest, following all “the rules,” and working non-stop?? She couldn’t reach her destination: happiness. Despite all the aforementioned effort & achieving all of the goals/dreams she made for herself… she wasn’t happy.
After making some coffee & thinking for a bit; I told her that the way I saw it; she had two basic problems:
- There isn’t a destination for “Happiness.” Happy is something we feel along the way – not the end of the journey.
- From what I could hear, she was so focused on doing things “the right way” that she wasn’t doing it HER way. Are you really doing it ‘right’ if you lose yourself in the process??
Several months ago, while dealing with ‘THE break-up’ of 2011 (2); my friend Sam made the statement he didn’t think Happiness was a destination. That people lose ‘content’ in their search for ‘happy.’ I wrote about it in from a relationship perspective; but the impact that statement/related discussion had on me went much further & since then, I’ve focused on.. well, keeping focus on all that I have to be content about in life.
To some, that’s going to sound like a heightened awareness on staying in the present; my first & probably most impactful mentor, Jeff Wittenberg, told me back in 2004 that my biggest challenge was that I needed to BE present wherever I was… meaning at work, focus on that so that when you’re home? You can fully focus there. It’s great advice & extremely challenging. But I work towards that every day & it really does help with my contentedness… and cuts down on the distracted mentality that those of us who are ADD-tastic tend to suffer from. This ability to be fully present is happiness, of sorts, I think…
To others, the journey of focusing on being content instead of chasing happy is going to look more like a focus on gratitude. Which is fine, because it is. And that is happiness; or at least where/how I think we find it. For me, I try to load my day intentionally with little moments I’ll find gratitude in – from the first moments I wake up. That doesn’t always fit in with the “status quo” or “conventional wisdom” for things, either. For example, take my morning coffee – I love how, when you go to Starbucks, they put whip cream in it. However, I also love not being in double-digit clothing… so, I found an alternative that works for me: Sugar Free Redi-Whip. It’s 5 calories/serving; so 15 calories later? I’m in business; and grateful not only for my caffeine fix… but the little bit of fun I get to have with it as well.
Which leads into the second point I made to my friend last night: be willing to be brave enough to dance to the beat of your own drum. (3) We’re conditioned that there are ‘right’ ways & ‘wrong’ ways to do nearly everything; but truly, there is no one right rhythm to happiness. Of course, that’s in direct conflict with the social education we receive in our primary years. Children, by and large, intrinsically crave the homogeneous. There’s comfort with things being similar. Unfortunately, the structure that ‘like kinds’ provided for us as children often stops being as fulfilling at some point in adulthood.
(http://youtu.be/i8StRAJCork is my preferred intro; but it wouldn’t embed)
This holds true for both “sides” of our life – personal & professional. My current theory is this: A lot of being content & discovering happy is finding your personal style & figuring out how to ‘work it,’ so to speak… it’s in our differences, as adults, we’re actually appreciated others & feel more content within ourselves. It’s funny to me that we teach embracing diversity in others; but not within ourselves. The checklist for discovering happiness within our own diversity is pretty similar, though:
- We can translate the guideline of “respecting others” into ‘Respect Ourselves.’ Take the time to know who you are – and be okay with that. When it comes to the “song” that is your life? This is your bass line.
- The universal translation: Be flexible. If you’ve always been part of the cookie-cutter assembly line; it’s going to take a bit for people to get used to it when your notes stand out like during an impromptu drum solo. Have patience; but be true to who you are.
- Know & understand your surroundings – & how you ‘fit in, while still standing out.’ Ever notice how a lead singer will take a stanza of a song & tweak it to fit their voice? It still fits the song; but it’s different from what’s expected. When we are dancing to the beat of our own music; we do that, too. But, it’s important to understand how that affects the other people in the band & work within the same key.
- Have a sense of humor. Sometimes life is just gets off-key. When you stop trying to move exactly like everyone else does; you’re bound to flub up now & again. That’s okay. There’s a serious sense of contentment that comes with being able to laugh at yourself & make the best of situations you find yourself in… in fact, like lead guitarist Slash? It just well might be the thing that wins over the crowd.
(1) As an aside, I’m always kind of surprised when friends call ME for life advice – I’m neither a guru, nor a picture of perfection in my own life… I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have it all figured out. Fortunately, it’s always easier to look at someone else’s life & hand out pointers than it is to perfect your own. :p
(2) I seriously think the end of the relationship/subsequent processing was more painful than my divorce. The whole thing was profoundly painful. I do not think this says anything good about my marriage; & probably highlights the emotional inequity in the relationship that ended last year – but whatever.. done now.
(3) Within reason.
“Won’t you be, oh won’t you be, oh won’t you be my neighbor??”
Do you remember that song from Mr. Rodgers? As a kid, we used to make fun of that song – what’s the big deal with neighbors, anyway?? We didn’t get it.
Honestly? I still often forget how deep the value of great neighbors really runs. I mean, I like my neighbors – LOVE a handful of them – and that’s good; but, then there’s also that “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” saying that I’ve tried to be cognizant of… there’s a limit. Say “Hi” be friendly – but be careful who you really invite in. This is a lesson that took me YEARS to learn as I’m an “Open Book, Live Out Loud” kind of gal.
Lately I’ve dealt with some really heavy lifting, mentally/emotionally speaking. In fact, if 2010 was the ‘year of [relative] love, laughter, and hopeful ‘happily ever afters?’ 2011 has been the year of “trials by fire,” I guess. And that’s okay – it’s in challenges that we grow & I’m all for that. But sometimes it’s just enough, right?? For me, I find it’s rarely the “big things” that break my back… I’m ‘rollin in the deep’ with that just fine; it’s the little things… yesterday? That was my contact list.
My contact list was a casualty of my iPhone 4s upgrade. Oh.My.Gosh… I can’t tell you how big of a deal that is. Over 4,800 personal and professional contacts; my NET WORTH information… *Poof!* Gone. With one incorrect click of a mouse button; the lovely little guy setting up my phone deleted all that info. I seriously thought I might have a breakdown IN Target; but, not wanting to look like some crazy, entitled Frisco housewife? (1) I kept myself in check until I got into the car… & then I cried.like.a.baby.
Last night, even though it had been a couple of days, I found myself getting choked up again as I was responding to ppl about it on my Facebook. I actually found myself missing my ex-boyfriend, who is like some sort of weird Apple savant; because I was sure HE would have saved me from ever letting this this happen. LOL (2) Ridiculous, right? Right.
Anyway, getting to the GRATITUDE part of this – out of no where, I get a call from my neighbor one street over. He’s also an Apple Guru (not savant) & is married to another neighbor I was going back-and-forth on facebook with regarding my contacts. He was calling to help me figure out how to get it back.
Was he successful? No; though that speaks nothing against his expertise w/ Apple products. But, he did walk me through making sure I never have that happen again – thank you, iCloud & Google Contacts as dual back-ups. Did he need to? No. But Chris & Tiffany are neighbors & we all care about each other.
It hit me after he hung up that the exchange we just had – that out of the blue ‘let me see if I can I help you’ is not an uncommon occurring in my neighborhood. We’re regularly, if not constantly, there for one another. Taking kids to school, picking people up from work, helping Crazy Crystal w/ her iPhone, donating what we can to help those in need; offering support, love & time to one another. Because we’re neighbors – a very special kind of friendship – & that’s what neighbors do. Which, I’m pretty sure, is what has kept me in the middle of nowhere for the last 8 years.
Total. Gratitude. Moment. For. The. Week. #justsayin Thanks for trying Chris & Tiffany – and to all my other Provi-Peeps who make me want to mentally sing the “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” song at least once a week…
(1) Not that there’s anything wrong with being that, I guess; I’m just not.
(2) Fleeting moment.
As a general rule, I don’t watch scary movies. They make me uncomfortable, my heart beats faster than when I’ve had 5 cups of coffee, and since I’m the girl who dwells on everything?? Once I’m spooked, I’m generally spooked for HOURS. Beyond that? I like to laugh and I think that if you’re going to spend your time/money on entertainment….it SHOULD entertain you. Make you feel good. So, outside of an excuse for some serious snuggle time with a significant other?? (1) I tend to ‘pass’ on the horror flicks.
Except I evidently forgot to pass that memo along to my eldest daughter.
We’re having a Mom/Daughter movie fest. I’m far too ADD to just watch TV; so, I’m also working/playing on the computer. To be fair, I told Lindsey she could pick the movie. I figured I’d be watching some groan-tastic RomCom or ABC Family. Instead, we’re watching? Scream 4. A scary movie. Now, it’s no “Dream House” or “Shining;” (2) but it had its suspenseful, uncomfortable moments. When I think about it, I think it’s because of the soundtrack/sound effects. The “violence” in that movie wasn’t all that realistic. But.. some of them are. We’re watching ABC Family now; so I’m pretty sure I’ll be okay.
Even still, I’m somewhat grateful for having watched it because it got me to thinking about uncomfortable moments in general. It’s in uncomfortable moments we have the greatest opportunity for growth. People rarely see the reason to focus on improvement or innovation when life is smooth sailing; it’s in the disruption that people really seem to shine… right??
(1) If I can bury my face into a strong shoulder and be held onto during scary bits? I’m ‘in.’ I just do not like watching violence – even if it’s fake. Laugh all you want; that makes me feel safe(r). #imadork
(2) Which I watched this year for the first time with my ex-boyfriend in the middle of the night. On a pallet on the hard floor because of his bad back. In the dark. Half-asleep. Yes, there was a sharp scream when the token, psychic servant was killed by Jack. Yes, it startled aforementioned ex-boyfriend out of what had been a sound, snoring sleep. #shouldhaveheldontome #justsayin ;p
I can absolutely ‘whip; my gratitude moment for the day early today. This morning, I overslept – probably because I couldn’t fall asleep until nearly 2:30am – but my internet went down for upgrades well before that. So, I open my eyes and it’s nearly 6 – whoops! Natalie fell asleep again after I woke her up and was 10 minutes late to athletics, she snagged my charger because she can’t find hers & the girls rooms? DISASTER zone. Which is probably why she can’t find her aforementioned charger. Awesome. Sooo… was kind of a hectic moment & was feeling a little overwhelmed.
And then? I saw Gini’s #TR30Day tweet talking about how she’s well on her way to whipping her current challenge – greatness! Immediately, the song “Whip It” by Devo came to mind. Love that song, LOL. And it instantly energized & refocused me. I’m seriously grateful for not only the fun in that song; but also for YouTube! Being able to go there and look up fun videos, clips, and such has really had a positive impact in my life . Thank You Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim… and to think: less than 6 years ago, this was still just a concept in a garage in California. Grateful it’s a whole lot more now… Hope you ‘Whip It’ today!
Today? I was pretty grateful for Facebook – I really hate data entry (1) and it tends to make me a little grousy -which is why I tend to do it at the end of the day – of course, then I’m exhausted and fall asleep in front of the computer so wind up tackling it at 4am. Toss in the never-ending sinus infection w/ my impending air travel & the fact I forgot to eat until 7pm? I was NOT a happy camper today …until I decided to procrastinate a bit and play w/ the new Facebook Profile this evening. I got to see my life timeline (woefully incomplete; but whatev) & remember experiences I loved and had forgotten. Like pumpkin carving last year – that was the BOMB and mine was awesome! :p (2) Anyway, it was a nice pick-me-up in what”s been a rough few days! Guess I should get back to it…
If you want to upgrade your FB profile to the new format before the official rollout; click here for instructions.
(1) Who doesn’t?? :p
(2) Humility? Not my strong suit, LOL