I would say I am a fairly happy gal. Unless I’m not. But then, there is usually a good reason for feeling not-so-happy. Too many things to do and not enough time to do them is a big culprit. You know what I mean. Are you happy? How happy are you? Have you read “The Happiness Project?” It’s a best-selling book by Gretchen Rubin that chronicles a year in her life where, feeling like her life is passing before her eyes, she agressively pursues happiness. Ms. Rubin follows advice from lots of sources, philiosophical experts as well as pop culture icons, and with each month’s task list she hopes to come a little bit closer to bliss. If you are prone to hosting a mountainous pile of self-help books on your nightstand, this book might be a one-stop shop if you don't want another minute to get away from you.
But here’s what I’m thinking: maybe at this stage of my journey, with young kids, messy pets, a mortgage and a broken dishwasher, life should be passing me by every once in a while. I’m not sure I want to dwell too much on my son’s sometimes flippant attitude or my daughters’ daily fight over the toothpaste. I am glad to bear witness to the joys of daily life, the hockey goal and aced spelling tests but I believe life is sometimes better because our rearview mirror is rose-colored.
Ask your mother about your behavior as a child. Chances are she will remember, with great fondness, all your most wonderful qualities and experiences from years ago. When I am beyond all frustration with one of my kids, I ask if I was ever like that. Mom always replies no, never. Apparantly I was perfect in every way. A joy. A delight. So why do I remember being grounded so much? She probably can account my most hideous moments, detail by detail, who are we kidding? (My mom always said, “I will always forgive you, but I will never forget”.) But those rose-colored memories make those youthful years magical. And that magic makes me happy. There is nothing magical or particularly happy about staying up all night with a teething baby or a dog who ate a bag of chocolate. I don’t especially want to be present and content in those moments. I want to get through them as best I can and move on to the good stuff. And that magic really happens when I look at my kids (and even my misbehaved dog) and don’t immediately resent them for the lost hours of sleep, but instead feel my heart swell with warm thoughts of happy times.
So I will take some of Ms. Rubin’s advice and clean out some clutter and try to make some time for myself to pursue a passion, but I think I am present just enough to know that if look past the looming mounds of laundry and dirty dishes, I am already pretty happy.