ampersand: where happiness is
sunday, january 12, 2003
i'm tired, exhausted, again and a little on the down side. i need something good to focus on. i need something to charge my energy. i'd say i need something to make me happy, but, the thing is, i know "something" can't make me happy. happiness doesn't come from people or things. they can make your current circumstances seem better . . . or worse, but they can't actually make a person truly happy. problem is, our society is constantly looking for happiness on the outside. this is what we teach our kids and they grow up expecting the next great toy or the new man to finally make them happy. it takes them years to realize that's not the way it works, and some of them never learn that. many of those who do end up lost, not sure what they're supposed to do and where they're supposed to look if things on the outside don't do it.
and that's very sad.
see, i complain about money, but i'm still a generally happy person. why? because money, the jobs we have or don't have, will always change. some will be good jobs, others will be lousy jobs; sometimes the money will be good, sometimes the money will be next to nonexistent. in our current circumstances, if i relied on money as a component of my happiness, i'd be pretty dang miserable. someone once told me that money only makes you more of what you are, and i believe that. so, if you're already happy without the money, you'll be happy with it. but if you're a person who hasn't found that place inside yourself that is the foundation of your happiness and tend to be generally unhappy, more money will only create more unhappiness.
considering the stack of bills i have piled up - money is nothing but trouble anyway. if you have it, you still out spend yourself and get in more debt you can handle. money is so transitory: you have it one moment, it's gone the next. i certainly want something a bit more stable to base my happiness on.
things are about as transitory as money.
new toys are so much fun when you get them. then you either get a new toy or the toy breaks. worse yet, you can get a toy that makes you "the man" in you income bracket, then next year a new toy is made the yardstick of "having it all." trying to keep up with the jones's can be an expensive, and fruitless, endeavor. besides, unless you truly like and respect the people you're trying to impress, then what does their opinion matter anyway? and if you truly like them and respect them, wouldn't you rather them like you for you rather than the cool car in your driveway? and if they don't like you, or if they like you only for your cool toys, then are they really worth impressing anyway? with that out of the way, you can now look at things more objectively. biggest, fastest, and the best almost always equals more money. but cheaper, without the brand name, and still able to get the job done often goes just as fast and does just as well as that pricey name tag. i like to think of it this way: why does a family of 4 need a house with 13 bedrooms and 3 kitchens when a house with 5 bedrooms and 1 kitchen will do? the honda and the vw bug get you from point a to point b just as well as a mazaratti, so why spend the extra money on the mazaratti? they'll both need repairs eventually, one just has a cheaper upkeep.
things are great. they play music, let you watch your favorite tv shows - even when they are on at the same time, and get you to work. but they do not make happiness. they break down, fall apart, and need upkeep. they eventually wear out, break down, fall apart, and have to be replaced. and every year there's a new model with new cool stuff to replace the one that made you oh so happy last year. happiness isn't replaceable.
people aren't replaceable and, if you're lucky, not very transitory either. but people can let you down. no one is exactly what you think they are. and some people will hurt you. don't get me wrong, i love people. i like people who are different, i like learning from others. i am a very social person and enjoy being around and with people. people are cool. really. but i've also met my share of manipulators, users, liars, and just plain messed up. i've met people who expect everything of you but nothing of themselves - or at least not as much. i've even met people who make much more of your differences than your similarities. people are fickle. friends with you one moment, not speaking to you the next. happiness can get buried, but it is not fickle.
so, essentially, everything we're told to hang our happiness on is unreliable. it's no wonder people hop from car to car and husband to husband. once something lets you down, it's hard to find happiness in it any more. so, i enjoy things, money, and people, but i have learned: you don't go looking for happiness in them unless you want to be a miserable person.
happiness comes from inside. it's founded on a place within oneself. it comes from self-acceptance, despite knowing you need to change to be a better person. it comes from knowing that happiness is more than just an emotion because emotions are fickle. and it's more than being in a good situation, because good situations can change.
unfortunately, i can't tell you how to get there. i can only tell you where to look. the rest is up to you.
having its original qualities unimpaired as (1) full of or renewed in vigor, (2) not stale, sour, or decayed, (3) not faded, (4) not worn or rumpled; not altered by processing; not salt; free (1) from taint (pure), (2) of wind; experienced, made, or received newly or anew; additional, another; original, vivid; lacking experience, raw; newly or just come or arrived; having the milk flow recently established <a fresh cow>