I’ve been thinking about happiness lately.
Someone I’ve known for a long time whose personality was usually kind of prickly is newly very happy. She’s given up jobs that were stressful and is now able to devote all her time to doing only what she loves doing. She’s fortunate because she’s in good health, doesn’t have to worry about money and she’s made choices that have allowed her to have what she’s wanted for a long time after some false starts.
Someone else I know has recently just had a birthday and is grateful and so happy with her life: her partner, daughter, family and friends. The joy in their family is palpable while doing simple things like baking a cake together and having an indoor picnic of sandwiches to celebrate a birthday.
So, what makes people happy? Being able to do what you want to do most of the time? Not worrying about money? Being with people who are sufficient in and among themselves in relationships that are joy-giving?
Speaking of joy-giving, my husband, G. and I are not doing such a great job of it here. My recovery from a bad ankle injury in February is on a plateau while I learn how to use my foot to drive and walk again with a crutch, going to rehab once a week. Our mobility or lack of it is compounded by G.’s back injury a few weeks ago which has failed to relieve itself after twice-weekly chiropractor appointments. Yesterday was the first time that he was able to have an actual adjustment to his back. There’s a little improvement which is heartening but there’s still a long way to go, it seems.
Honestly, we’re pretty cranky. With each other and with a world that I thought we’d be able to avoid for awhile at least: not being able to carry things up and down three flights of stairs (like groceries and doing laundry.) Having to phone and ask people for help to do things that we would normally be able to do ourselves.
One of the things I’d like to do this summer is to cull out things and give them away (things stacked in closets and books to the library): a BIG clean-out instead of the timid forays that I’ve managed to carry out so far. But it requires getting some empty boxes from the liquor store to pack books in; having a strong person carry them back downstairs and load them into the car on a Wednesday when I can drive them to the library on a donation day or to Goodwill on other days.
I guess the other thing is my acute awareness of how much verbal complaining can taint my perception of the quality of how we spend our day. In an ideal world, there would be so much compassion for someone’s suffering that it wouldn’t bother me as much as it does. But it’s an imperfect world. Looking around me, I can’t think of a real reason why I shouldn’t be feeling more happy than I do right now. After all, I have a good book to read, there’s fresh food in the fridge for dinner and maybe I will start sorting things out in advance of getting some help to cart things away.
This weekend, I’m looking forward to driving up to the ocean town we visited for my granddaughter’s high school graduation last week and having lunch with an old acquaintance. I’ve already looked at the menu and might order a lobster mac and cheese and share a beet salad. For dinner, we might try out a local Portuguese restaurant called the Azorean that specializes in dishes made with calamari and octopus!
The other thing I have in my mind is to ask myself what it is that might make me feel happy again. Somehow, there must be a way to insulate myself from things that annoy me so much and to neutralize my irritation with our situation. I think that part of what’s bothering me is the undeniable fear that our joint helplessness is a sign of age and that things will get progressively worse rather than better. Writing this post has been helpful in excavating that anxiety from the darker recesses of my mind and bringing it forth to the light of my consciousness.
After all, I could also decide that perhaps it’s not all that bad if we consider this phase as being temporarily handicapped, rather than a permanent condition. As usual, everything depends upon what attitude we take about things. I’ll have to do some work on mine, that’s for sure!