Monday, February 28, 2011

let's not assume misery

Lately I've been noticing more how people assume that I'm unhappy in my situation. Not because I seem miserable (I hope!) but because apparently the default is that certain activities must be unpleasant.

"Brussels sprouts?! Oh that sounds like an awful breakfast your bf made you!"

Nothing really must be unpleasant! And I'd like to think I've come some distance toward being able to do more and more things without being miersable about them.

For example, this morning at work (which I love going to!) I mentioned that I had been studying all weekend for the MPRE, which is a part of the bar exam. It's not as challenging as the rest of the bar, but preparing for it did dominate my weekend. One of my co-workers said something like, "Oh, that must have been a chore! It'll all be over soon."

How do I respond to this? It was certainly intense, but it wasn't a chore. In fact, I sort of got into it and even told my boyfriend how much I was enjoying getting back into study mode. I don't mind the reading and having 5 more days of it is neither too long nor too short a time for delving into the task.

I'm sure Donna at work was just being nice, but it was sort of awkward for me.

I left the office an hour early to keep working on bar stuff, and ran into my lovely flatmate and fellow Buddhist, L. I mentioned how I got out early and she commented on how great it must have felt to be able to get up from my desk and say, "Well, I'm outta here!"

No, hahaha, no no no, I like being at work! Going from one interesting task (work) to another (driving) to a third (changing out of business attire) to a fourth (prepping for the MPRE) does not mean I am fleeing one thing or dreading another. It is just life! And it is not unpleasant!

When you are a kid at summer camp, every activity is an activity. There is wake-up, breakfast, cabin cleaning, crafts, athletics, lunch, etc. Cabin cleaning is just one more activity. It's just another part of the day. it's not necessarily awful or a punishment or the worst thing on the schedule. Sometimes it's down-right fun! :)

My bf posted on his facebook about how, despite landing a $1000 fenderbender and having his house robbed 10 days ago, he's having a really fantastic 2011 so far. Smilie-face.

Hooray! :D Happiness! [Maybe I am part of that fantasticness...?]

But instead, the comments started coming in about how that sounds miserable and how awful that all seems, and how sorry people were. Or how they wondered if he was being sarcastic.

He was not being sarcastic; he was being genuinely joyful despite these unanticipated events. And all these well-meaning people were saying "sorry" for him in his cheery optimism, condolences for his high spirits!

I know, I know. "But they mean well..." Yeah, they do. All these people. Sometimes I just announce things ("I went to the store and saw a lot of milk!" or "There are two clouds in the sky and they look fluffy!" or "I put this blue candy in my mouth and it was very sour!") and quite frequently my ex would say with full sympathy, "It's not easy being you, is it."

Eh? I am observing! I am not complaining!

Hahahaha. Ok. This whole post is sort of a complaint I guess, so now I am complaining. There. :P But really, my feelings at most amount to frustration. They edge closer to confusion, mainly at how best to respond to all these things.

Do I have to scamper about saying gleefully, "I love my work! I love being at work! It is my joy and I look forward to the rest of my career in this same avenue! Also I left an hour early today."? No, haha, then the assumption might be that I am miserable because I am no longer at the office.

Dear readers, do you have any suggestions?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

happiness is boring?

With some frequency I hear, "Why would you want to be happy all the time? That'd be boring."

As if!

Let's go romp in the woods!

When people ask what I want to do with my life, I often say that I have a goal of long-term happiness. Then without fail, unless the other person has explored some eastern concepts (like Buddhism or yoga), I will be informed that this is a silly goal because happiness is dull. And furthermore, that happiness cannot exist without sadness, by which to compare it and recognize that it is happiness.

Let's clear some stuff up!

Where is the bore?
What is boringness, dullness? This is when we aren't stimulated enough by what's already before us, so we want something else instead. It means we aren't satisfied with what's there. To me, it seems clear that this is the very definition of unhappiness, this dissatisfaction.

Therefore, to be happy, long-term happy, we would be in a non-boring situation. Otherwise we wouldn't be happy with what we have.

Hahaha, but this is the silly way of explaining things. It is logical and it is true, but really, it's too clinical.

Happiness is AWESOME! It's being exuberant and mellow, alert and calm, vibrant and at peace. AND IT IS FUN! Happy people enjoy life more than miserable people: fact!

Dang, when I get really happy, nearly anything will entertain me, music makes me want to dance, the sky looks beautiful -- and I mean beautiful -- no matter what the weather or time of day, and no occurence large or small will get me down.

Not boring at all!

It's a feeling where adventures are possible -- and in fact everything becomes an adventure, even going to the grocery store! Even getting a glass of water. Even just sitting there and breathing.


Prerequisite of misery?
Do I need to have suffered in order to appreciate this? Good heavens I sure hope not! Two points:

1. Happiness is not a state of mind in which one is really comparing. It's a state of here-and-now. When you're happy, you're not moping over your past misfortunes -- that would be called "moping". Doesn't sound like a good time!

2. We've all suffered to some extent, though, haven't we? And we all also experience happiness, so I guess if there is a prerequisite then we've all already fulfilled it. So, who cares. Kids can be perfectly happy drawing treasure maps and then hiding treasures under the chair and then finding them again by using the map! Hooray! Do they need to have gone through trauma in order to enjoy these little adventures? I may be wrong, but I don't really think so. I'm not sure what makes adults so different, beyond being older.

I'm not 100% certain on this point, only 99% certain. But something about the assumption of a need for prior suffering sure troubles me.

Having suffered, I guess I've crossed whatever low bar there was and I don't care anymore. We've all crossed it, we've all crossed over, we're all in the door now. We are HERE. This is where happiness lives, and we are all present.


Let's relax into this joyful, quirky, strange, laughable, surprising life we have, and feel happy with the chance to experience it!