There is a mythical place called happiness. Somewhere down the block from success and around the corner from fulfillment. And we are all chasing after it. We all want more of it. But never seem to get it. It’s part of it being mythical. It’s always just over the hill or at the end of the rainbow or with the next job promotion, relationship, drink, amount of money in the bank, charitable act, new car, or other whatever.
We spend our lives chasing after these things – things we are told over and over are important. And not just important but vital for life. And if we don’t have them or they don’t fix us when we actually touch them then there has to be something wrong with us. Funny how we always do that self-blame, “I’m inadequate,” game. We push ourselves to do more, achieve more, be more.
What would happen if we stop playing the game. Or better – what if we rewrote the rules?
What if we could rig it in our favor?
First let’s look at this mystical idea of happiness et. al. Why do we put it off? How come we get so caught up in some future bliss and remove ourselves from the opportunities in the present? And what if we stopped?
The other thing about happiness and the gang is that we have been told they are actually a destination. A place. Something static that once we get it, it never goes away. But that seems like a well crafted line to sell me something I may not need. Yeah, maybe I don’t need to be permanently happy. Maybe I’m ok with being ok, or not so ok, or anything in between.
What happens when we approach happiness with a take it or leave it mindset? If it happens then great and if not oh well. What if we stop chasing? And maybe just let it come around if it wants to.
(Maybe happiness is tired of being chased. Maybe it’s scared of us. After all look at what we’ve done with other emotions. Pity sadness, demonize anger, parade disgust, avoid fear, shackled surprise. If we ever caught happiness how long would it take to start being hateful toward it. We already kind of are if we see it in others.)
The thing is I like the elation of spending time with family, or reading a book, or writing, or the dance of the fall leaves in miniature whirlwinds. And sometimes I call that happiness or joy or something else. But I don’t want to miss those times because I’m chasing something that I believe is supposed to make me happy. And maybe for you it’s flipped. Those things I find value in and add value to my experience don’t work for you, and something else does. Well then do those things and recognize the self-judgements you make.
Because there is a double bind with happiness inc. If we go for one thing then there is a judgement about not going for the other. Want a family life well then you are horrible for not working enough. Want that career instead, you’re evil for turning away from your family. Either way we punish ourselves. We judge ourselves. And those around us.
I read the book Who Moved My Cheese earlier this week (a find in a bag of books a previous co-worker gifted to me). And I started to wonder about what kind of cheese I want. And whether what I am doing is helpful in getting there. It got me thinking about all the things I do that don’t provide for me. That decrease the value of my time and life.
It got me wondering about ways to change the game – to stop chasing. It got me thinking about how it might be a whole lot scarier if I climb over the wall of the maze, but at least then I wouldn’t have to worry about others moving my cheese. Maybe I’d starve because I can’t find any cheese. Oh, but maybe I will find so many more options to sustain me and at least I’ll see the maze for a maze if I decide to climb back in.