Happiness – In Response to The Atlantic

This was originally posted today as a discussion board post for my Composition 2 class. We were given a prompt of questions to respond to, and in response to The Atlantic’s video “What is Happiness?”

Happiness is fleeting. For me, it’s being content in the moment, not worrying about something. Also, it’s a time when I’m not struggling with trying to be elated in some way. I’m always worrying about the most mundane stuff, so when I have time where I’m just content with myself and my situation, I’m happy. Other than those brief moments lacking worry, my dog Yoshi brings me the most joy. I only get him every other weekend since making the horrible decision to leave him with my soon to be ex-husband. I look forward to seeing him the entire time I’m not with him, but I also worry about him constantly when he’s not with me.

Spending quality time with my boyfriend, Mike, brings me to a level of happiness I don’t find in many other situations. When we’re talking openly and making plans for the future, that is when I feel connected to him and get a warm, overwhelming sensation throughout my body. When it’s just us wandering around Cedar Point, the world could end and I’d be okay with it. Being in the water also helps ease my tension and clears my mind of uncontrollable worries, and allows me to be simply content. When there is a significant lack of stimuli, I’m able to clear my mind and focus on one thing at a time. I miss meditating, and need to dedicate a significant amount of time to it again. I was very happy when I spent an hour every Sunday morning in a guided meditation group. Seems that happiness to me is just clearing my mind.

My most unhappy times occur when I can’t stop ruminating. Quite often, I have to take Xanax to stop it because it gets so bad. When I was a child, I’d ruminate as well, but I didn’t know that it was not normal or healthy for a child to go through that. As a kid, happiness was so much easier to attain, it seems now. Perhaps that’s the nostalgia of looking back on not having loans and bills, a place of my own to take care of. The over all simplicity of life as a child lends itself happiness.

Eli Finkel, Professor of Psychology at Northwestern University, struck me more than others in the video by stating that “happiness is some blend of experience of pleasure and the experience of meaning and fulfillment in life.” He says to focus on bigger picture aspects of what gives life meaning rather than the moment to moment pleasures.

On the other end of that spectrum, Journalist Suleika Jaouad says that she find joy in the mundane things in her life since being diagnosed with cancer. That hits me personally. I was one of three victims of a robbery back in 2005, where I was dragged around with a gun to my head. While it severely impacted my anxiety, it also helped me realize that I need to find joy in day to day simplicities rather than trying to reach some goal of ultimate happiness.

Director Brian Grazer also hits on “being in [his] own lane,” where he doesn’t compare himself to his peers. It was important for me to realize that what makes others happy is not necessarily what is going to make me happy.

 

So, what is happiness to you? Tell me in the comments!

Three Sisters

My mom grew up with three sisters, and she said it was a nightmare. I’m entering a new family via my boyfriend. He has three sisters. I’ve tried to embrace this as being an amazing journey into understanding the dynamics of a family that is a total one-eighty from my own. I am an only child with one cousin who is ten years older than me. So far, it’s been all uphill with few breaks and plateaus. The climb has left me a bit bruised and pulling out rocks from my shoes, but I’ve survived. So far. 

I love his family. It’s weird that I’ve known them longer than half the time he’s been alive. His parents accepted me into their clan as one of their own immediately, even before I fell in love with their baby boy. The sister who brought me into the family had no clue that I was even separated from my husband when she invited me to her wedding. We had known each other since the beginning of high school, which was 14 years prior. We took Japanese language classes together, and roomed together in Tokyo our first time there. She had no idea back then that she would introduce me to my husband, let alone the love of my life. Funny that those aren’t the same, I suppose. But that’s life.

Now I’m the object of her skepticism while lending rhythm to her brother’s heart. He is eight years her junior, with no other siblings between. He was the baby doll and entertaining object of affection for almost as long as she can remember. For me, it was much easier to realize his adulthood. I hadn’t seen him in at least two years before he joined his sister’s pre-wedding dance party. Previously, he’d show only in rare sightings.

Once we realized our mutual friend base, he invited me to play cornhole a few times at the members-only club we now frequent. I never really intended on following through with my well-intentioned “maybe” RSVPs on Facebook. Besides, his invitation was a pleasant formality at best. At that time, I was still failing to be happily married. 

Since joining me on this journey, he’s held my hand the entire way. Sometimes I see a look in his eyes like he wants to throw me back down the hill, but it’s as fleeting as my happiness used to be. And most likely Paranoia talking. She’s the only sister I grew up knowing; what a bitch to be stuck with. 

I can’t decide on the proper emotion with which to effectively communicate this sentence: I now have four sisters.