Lately I've been thinking. Surprisingly, it didn't hurt.
I know being happy is an important factor in life. If asked what is important to most people, I am sure 'being happy' is in their top ten, if not top five. But when does seeking happy-ness turn into a futile search? And while people are seeking their happy-ness, do they factor in the hurt or stress they might be causing other people?
While washing the dishes, Matt and I discussed a seeming emerging trend of men leaving their partners and children because they 'don't want this lifestyle and they're not happy'. It frightens me how often I am hearing this. Is it an epidemic? Is it our society? The perpetual search and focus on being happy, rather than 'being' and 'loving' and 'living'.
Or it could even be happy-ness in the simple guise of buying, 'oh I just had to buy this because it made me happy.' Accumulating makes you happy? Uh HUH?!
But it's the messages we're receiving.
TV shows focus on being happy,they show happy families, or what happens to people when they're not happy. Commercials provide products as answers on how to become happy. Buying this that, and whatever else is apparently going to make me happy. But has our society lost the way and rather than focussing on all the good things, all the things we need to be grateful for, have we usurped all of the importance of family life, living and the simple things (for instance enjoying a special home cooked meal, really hearing a song for the first time, watching the light change in the day or seeing your children grow/learn/love - or maybe just being) - isn't this enough? Is happy-ness becoming a cumulative thing? Do I have to keep moving to be happy?
For me, the answer is no. I can experience the dives, the dips, the wallowing and the sadness, but still feel grateful, a glimmer of happiness lurking in the shadows of a grey day. I know I don't need to be happy all the time. I know I don't need to seek it out, because it seeks me out in the most curious of ways.
Family life isn't perfect. It has it's ups and downs. As does single life. Or partnered life. Or whatever life. There's no one lifestyle that flatlines at pure happiness. There are days when I am overcome with love and affection for my smalls, when I am astounded at them in awe. And then there are those (rare) days when I tell Matt 'let's switch and I'll go back to work' (and the next day I tell him I was kidding).
But it's something that really worries me. The condemnation of feeling sad, or lonely, or angry, because it seems there's a push to BE HAPPY! I know Bobby McFerrin sang about it all those years ago, but now it feels as though it's running rife. Like there's some crazed happy 'pusher' forcing us to feel the need to be happy. And I don't like it.
How do children ever learn to feel the full range of emotions when all they're hearing is that you should be happy?
I'm going to fight it. I'm going to let my children, myself, my husband run the gamut of emotions. I fear that if you don't, then you can't create, you can't relate, you can't empathise, and it is then that you really run the risk of not being happy. I want them to feel what it really is to feel sad, to feel angry. I'm not going to tell them 'don't worry, be happy' because sometimes you just can't. I don't want to feel bad for feeling angry, after all, the messages I am hearing are - you should be happy, as though I have a duty to that one emotion.
And then you have the question, what is happiness? It's about as airy as the question, what is art? And it's best discussed another day, when I'm off my high-horse.