I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes me happy. Scratch that. I spend a lot of time thinking about what will give me peace and make me feel calm and content. About what will yield the best results.
What kind of life will fulfill me and allow me to be the best me I can be? This generally involves prioritizing G-d, my husband, my children, and my health.
Perhaps you might say the sum of these parts is a happy life?
A very wise friend told me that engaging in such a life yields happiness as a byproduct - unlike the fruitless pursuit of happiness itself. I. Actually think it’s a fool’s errand. An empty road to nowhere - there’s a big chance it involves a lot of comparing and keeping up too.
My husband likes to replace the word happiness with the word contentment. This is a fair option but, to my mind, can also set one up for failure. It’s not possible to be content all the time. Just like it’s certainly not possible to be happy all the time.
My mom once told me a story about when she was first married. She was doing a creative writing course and had to write an essay on the definition of happiness. She asked her mother in law, my granny, what she thinks happiness is. My granny replied: happiness is satisfying moments.
I love this definition because it rings so true for me and also further validates why seeking a “happy” life is basically pointless.
I recently read that:
‘...our obsession with happiness contributes to our unhappiness...’
- Tal Ben Shachar.
This makes sense to me.
“If I have this or when I achieve that.. THEN I’ll be happy...”
I prefer a different litmus test. And I’ve written about this before: Does my life work for me?
The truth is people seem to find me a bit interesting. At least once a week someone will tell me (with glee) about how I was the shabbos lunch topic for conversation.
Side bar: rather don’t admit to speaking about me behind my back. I’m very comfortable in my ignorance.
Anyway these comments always fascilitate decent conversation between my husband and I around WHY we live the way we do and the choices we have made; and the truth is the alternatives just don’t work for us.
Living on credit or with any sort of debt doesn’t work for us.
Overstimulating our children doesn’t work for us.
Separating from each other or our kids at this early stage of their lives doesn’t work for us.
Living in a big home doesn’t work for us.
Sleeping in different rooms to our kids doesn’t work for us.
The list seems endless.
Based on our choices in life there are, thank HaShem, multiple options available to us:
Bigger house, bigger cars, more clothing, more trips; and yet, when actually faced with these options we make the same choices over and over again- what works instead of what looks good.
I’ve written about cosleeping and the shame associated with admitting your kids are in your bed.
I’ve written about living below your means and the shame associated with not keeping up.
I’ve written about living small and the shame associated with being different to your peers.
What I haven’t written about is how well our life works KAH. I haven’t written about the calm, the peace, the togetherness, and the love.
Could we keep up? Sure. Thank Gd. Or shall I say we could certainly try.
I am well aware everything we have is absolutely and directly from our creator and has absolutely nothing to do with so called “success” in the physical world.
But do we want to? Not one single chance in hell.