Are you happy? I'm happy. I haven't always been able to say that. It's taken some time and some days it takes courage to say it out loud. But I am, I AM HAPPY.
Not everyone is happy. I am not always happy. I have had times when I wasn't happy for a long stretch of time. My natural curiosity works around the clock to discover how come I am happy now and I wasn't happy before? How can I stay happy? How can I share this secret of being happy with others?
Do you like yourself?:
Well isn't that just huge!? I've found that if I don't like myself, I am not happy. I've had to make peace with the past. If you don't like who you are today, the past is an easy place to look and blame. Looking backwards and hating who it made you. However if you like who you currently are, the past (as much as it may have sucked or rocked) is just the vehicle which brought you to where you are. Everything that has happened, has happened to bring you here, to the present. If you like yourself, then thank god those hardships happened because they made you who you are today and you like YOU!
I was talking to a friend yesterday about a trip I took to Peru 6 years ago. The shanty towns we saw outside of Lima where entire families were living in a three wall lean-to on an 12'x12' square of dirt. Row after row. Mile after mile. No running water, no roads, no fourth wall... We got home from that trip and I remember saying, "Well, my job may not be the best job, my car may not be new, I can't buy a suit at Gucci this week, but I've got indoor plumbing! INDOOR PLUMBING!"
I think I lived off that perspective for over a year.
A low water mark.
It's tempting to look at your life the day you drop the pickle jar and it explodes all over your kitchen and shout, "THIS IS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE!" I do. But it's not. I've had the worst day of my life a few different ways.
The day I got fired from my dream job.
I'd worked my entire adult career towards this dream job, it was all I ever wanted to do. I would rule the world from my dream job... until I got fired. I spent a year going out every other night (or more) drinking with friends and hanging out with porn stars and drag queens. I was numbing the pain and spent away my 401k on fabulous outfits and booze. I had a really good time. But then I got a new job. At my new job I worked a lot less and made a lot more money. I would never go back to that "dream job" I had before. Is it a cliche to say now that the day I got fired was the best day of my life?
The day I broke up with "the love of my life" (or so I thought at the time).
I stormed off, loaded up my car to move back home, gunned the engine and (I think this is the term) threw a rod. The car went putt, putt, sputter, sputter, DEAD. A week later I was home at my parents with no job, no income, no boyfriend. A month later I was in London working for the summer. It was one of the most formative experiences of my entire life. Twenty years later, I'm working on being friends with that ex. It's much easier now when I look at how much he actually gave me.
The day I spent at the hospital.
It's uh, kind of personal. So I'm going to gloss over it. Watching someone you love in pain and wondering what comes next. Worried if they will pull through. I call it the worst day of my life because it was. No matter how bad a situation is, I know what I am made of. I know my strengths. I know what I would do because I've had to consider it. I know who my friends are because they were there. I know my very core.
I also know I can buy a new jar of pickles and that the housekeeper will get that sticky spot behind the fridge. There is BIG stuff and there is small stuff.
As a child, my parents would have us make a Christmas Wish List. I would sit down with the Montgomery Wards Toy catalog and just list pages, "Anything off of page 62, all of page 38, 2 of everything from page 40..." and then I would sit back and dream of the large truck required to deliver it all. Christmas morning, there it would be, only 20 gifts. Some of them pencils. I didn't list pencils! Where is my page 38? Where is my double page 40?! And then I would storm off to my room slam the door, open the door to throw all my gifts into the hallway, then slam the door again! "Christmas sucks! I HATE ALL OF YOU!!!"
It would be a lot funnier if it hadn't really happened... every year.
Turns out, I had some unrealistic expectations. My mother had to sit me down and explain there was a budget, priorities needed to be made and I needed to know that I was always only going to get 20 gifts and there were always going to be things I didn't expect. I learned that surprises and the unknown are not my friend. I have a grand and vivid imagination and not much in life can meet up to what I could dream. I need to distinguish dreams from goals.
Goals are good. They give you something to aim for, a reason to get up in the morning. But what if you've set your sights so far beyond what could happen?
I no longer tell myself I am a failure because I am not a household name (oh sure, I am at YOUR house). I believe that my purpose is to affect change wherever I am. If it is to be on a smaller scale in this world, so be it. I am still doing what I am supposed to do. I'm learning to accept what happens and feel that being a good person, being kind, loving the people around me are the better way to measure success than fame or money.
Everyone has a crap day:
I've had crap years. It's important to distinguish the difference. I used to want to be happy all the time. (I used to need to be happy all the time). Do you have any idea how exhausting that is?
A plane can't fly forever. Sooner or later you need to come down and refuel. The trick is to get to the ground before you run out of gas or you will crash into the ground and be buried. I like my life to be like a good plane ride, easy lift off to a great height, turbulence accepted as part of deal, then a nice gentle landing where my plane gets refueled for the next great time. Maintenance and groundings come with the territory.
Now when I'm having bad day I honestly say to myself, "It's just one day. You are entitled to a bad day." Then I cancel my plans, dish up the ice cream and do whatever I want. It's just one day.
No one is perfect:
I'm not and I'm certain Lyle would pleased to tell you in what ways. My goal isn't to be perfect. My goal is to be ME. I have a ton of little tricks I play on myself to keep track of where I am in this world and how I'm feeling. This one is my favorite, as my good friend Sheryl Crow sings in one of her songs, "It's not getting what you want, its wanting what you've got."