C. P. Snow, the English Novelist and scientist, once wrote:
“The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase; if you pursue happiness you’ll never find it.”
In my humble opinion, old C.P. was dead wrong.
Abe Lincoln once said “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”
In my humble opinion, Abe was right on the money.
Not that I believe we need to chase after happiness, but I do believe we have to create circumstances which allow us to be available for happiness. That’s right – available for happiness.
Unfortunately creating those circumstances very often requires conscious thought, action and effort. This means you must DO something. You must get unstuck from a life (or situation) which is holding you back. You must move forward. You must set yourself on a journey towards happiness, remembering all the while that it truly is the journey that counts. There is no “happy destination”. There are only moments of happiness every day. The goal is to secure as many of these as possible.
And how can you do that if you are not available?
What the heck is she talking about now, you may ask. I don’t blame you. It took me a long time, many years, many tears and a whole lot of wine to realize that I was not available for happiness.
What I eventually had to do was examine my life and decide in which areas I was available for happiness and in which areas I was not.
Kinda like my friend S. She was stuck in a loveless, sexless, friendship-less marriage for well over five years. But she stayed for the kids. She was miserable, she was frustrated and she was horny but she stayed for the kids.
Was she available for happiness?
Then there was C. C hated her job and most of the people she worked with. She dreaded going in to the office and she called in sick a lot. But she needed the money so she didn’t quit. She was miserable, frustrated and actually truly ill for many months.
Was she available for happiness?
And finally there’s V. V is single and lonely and desperately wishes to date and fall in love yet she sits at home most evenings watching TV and refuses to even consider on-line dating because it must be full of wackos and perverts and it just plain scares her.
Is V available for happiness?
And then there’s me. I was married to a lovely man for many years. He was (still is) a great guy and he provided me with a great life. The Pepsi commercial life. But in reality we enjoyed little passion, little emotional connection and few common interests. I was increasingly felled with a nagging sense of unfulfillment but in spite of my frequent crying jags on the kitchen floor, I was paralyzed. I could do nothing. Because intellectually I felt I had no right to be unhappy. Most women would have killed to enjoy the lifestyle I did. The nice-guy husband. The trips, the trappings and the ease.
I just wanted something else. No. I needed something else.
I found that something else in the arms of another man. Except it turns out I actually didn’t. What I found was something different, something momentarily distracting and something which looked a whole lot like the REAL THING to me but in the end was just another diversion. Another attempt to find happiness when I was still not available for it. Because my new relationship was built on the pain of the old one shattering and that was guilt I could not process. Or as it turns out, handle.
The new relationship ended and I suddenly found myself man-less, moving into yet another new home, scared shitless and heartbroken. The tears were coming fast and furious and far too often. And in the midst of that move, one of my so-called friends asked me sardonically “Well Vickie … are you happy now?”
And as I wiped away my tears I answered, totally honestly, “No. No I am not. But I am available for happiness.”
And that was the BIG ONE. I was finally in a place where happiness was a real potential because I was finally un-stuck. I was finally being honest with myself and the rest of the world. I was finally ready … to be happy. All that hurt and upheaval and change and trauma lead to that incredibly blissful moment when I looked in the mirror watching mascara drip down my face and I said “Baby, you may be fucking miserable right now but you are ready to get happy.”
Albert Camus once wrote “But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?”
Right on Albert! Because you must be in harmony with your life, with no secrets, no hidden agendas and no unresolved predicaments in order to become available for happiness. Everything else is just a bandaid. The drink might help, the new shoes might help, the trip south might help and the affair might help. But only for a moment.
Allan K. Chalmers says The Grand Essentials of happiness are: Something To Love, Something To Do and Something To Hope For
I agree. Go ahead – fill in your own blanks.
And then try this little exercise: Write down three BIG things that you believe make (or will make) you happy. Then ask yourself (and don’t lie!) – are these things happening in your life RIGHT NOW? And if they are not, are they at least available to you? Or are you stuck?
Because as Wayne Dyerr once said – You believe that people or things make you unhappy but this is inaccurate. You make yourself unhappy.
“The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven.” (John Milton)
Whatever the status of your current life, it’s up to YOU to get the ball rolling. Rolling toward happiness. You can do this like I did, falling into the process haphazardly through bad timing, bad choices and unfortunate circumstances. Or you can CHOOSE RIGHT NOW to make your own heaven out of whatever personal hell you may be experiencing. YOU make the choice, YOU take the necessary actions, YOU do the work.
My friend S ultimately realized that her kids were no happier than she was being a part of a fully dysfunctional family. She told her husband the marriage was over. He gave her daily grief about money, housing, custody – you name it. It was every bad scenario she ever imagined. EXCEPT she kept has her eye on the prize – freedom from imprisonment and the availability for love … real love in her definition … and real happiness. And you know what? Soon after S came to this decision and acted upon it, she met a lovely man. She is now 20 lbs lighter, she is in love and she is looking forward with HOPE. Once she created availability, she created heaven out of hell.
C was so miserable at her job she was finally let go … ostensibly due to corporate downsizing but she knew it was because her boss didn’t like her (and her constant whining). Initially she was humiliated and devastated and angry. Then she realized this was truly a blessing in disguise because now she could find a job that would bring her satisfaction. She altered her mindset to embrace the positive, sent out a million resumes and knocked on a million doors until she got her dream job. The situation may have been thrust upon her, but the availability to turn it into something wonderful was her choice. She created heaven out of hell.
And V finally overcame her fear of on-line dating and allowed a friend to set her up on a site. Within days she was emailing and instant messaging and going out on meet-and- greets. She still hasn’t found ‘the one’ but she is having a damn good time, both at home (on-line) and out on her dates. And she has rediscovered hope and thus, made herself available for happiness.
So if you’re unhappy you have two choices. Do nothing and wait and hope. Or create availability for whatever you think or know will make you happy.
I became available for happiness at a huge cost. But ya know what? It was worth it.
Because … I am.