What if you were already happy?

Ah, the Monday morning commute [Source: Wikimedia Commons]

Happy Monday to you!

Ha – apparently, my browser doesn’t think so, because as soon as I typed “Happy Monday,” it crashed.  :/ How apropos.

I had a busy weekend, what with the weather warming up, the clocks all springing forward an hour, and the work I’ve been doing around my house. It has been a HARD winter, here in New England, and like so many folks, my house had its share of ice dams… and a few leaks.  A few years ago, we had some intense ice dam buildup and a few little leaks. Not a huge deal. Last year we had some ice, but no leaks. This year, there was a lot of ice, and leaks that are definitely pointing to some roof repairs on the horizon.

Yeah… I’m not looking forward to that.

Anyway, the prep and painting this weekend gave me plenty of time to think, so I took advantage. As I treated first with stain-killer / primer, then followed with a nice white ceiling paint, I thought about how nice it was going to be, to have a clean white ceiling again … happy.

As I made trips to the hardware store, I thought about how much I love those places — even the modern “chain” type stores where everything is in its own specially marked location in clearly labelled aisles — all the possibilities, all the activities rolled up into one place. Very cool. Browsing through hardware stores makes me happy, too.

And as I opened up the 9×12 1m plastic dropcloths and laid them over the contents of the room, I thought about how great it was going to be, to get this done. Looking at that spot on the ceiling has been a huge pain in the butt, and not having it constantly reminding me of impending roof repairs is going to be a welcome change.

As I stirred and poured paint, taped edges and corners, soaked brush bristles and roller nap and carefully covered the popcorn surface (note to self: no more popcorn ceilings in the future), I thought about how this all fit into my life.

Seeing the paint roll on, clean and bright, really made me happy. And finishing up the first coat on Saturday afternoon, relaxing into dinner and a movie with a healthy tiredness, also made me happy. But it occurred to me that night, as my partner and I watched a the latest “Hunger Games” over dinner, that even if I weren’t painting the ceiling this weekend, I’d still be happy. Even if the paint weren’t going on well, and all sorts of problems were cropping up, I’d still be happy. Complications and paint ending up where it’s not supposed to be are obviously things to actively prevent and avoid, but would any of them actually make me un-happy?

Nope.

See, here’s the thing — regardless of the external conditions, I have to admit, I’m happy. Even when the car’s in the shop, I’m overbooked all across the board, the company is re-orging, and I can feel a migraine just around the corner, it doesn’t fundamentally change the level of happiness I have. I may be un-content, I may be irritated, I may be frustrated by things not working the way I want them to, but I’m not un-happy — and I haven’t been, for quite some time.

Oh, certainly, things have not always gone to plan. My life has been a lot more “eventful” than I’d like, and there have been myriad frustrations and perturbations and irritations that have gotten the best of my attitude at times. There’s been joy, pain, sunshine, and rain, just like with everyone. But has any of it made me genuinely un-happy? Not in the least.

And that can hold true for any of us, really. I mean, think about it. If you’re reading this, you may very well be a First World citizen sitting at a computer or holding a digital device that’s far and away more sophisticated than the equipment used for centuries to sail around the world and head for the moon. The vast majority of us have our most basic needs met — food, shelter, structure in our lives, connection with others — and we have any number of different distractions or forms of entertainment and education to keep our minds and bodies active and busy. The things that used to vex our ancestors — the chance of freezing to death… losing the teeth out of your head, one at a time… losing limbs… being stalked and eaten by a wild animal… or captured by warring opponents and forced into about the last kind of life you’d choose for yourself… well for most of us, they never make it on our radar.

We have a lot of reasons to be thankful, and we have a lot of reasons to be happy — if only because we’ve eradicated a lot of the time-honored reasons to be un-happy.

And yet, there are a lot of genuinely unhappy people walking around — especially on Monday mornings — doing “what needs to be done” and fulfilling various duties, going through the motions, and living their lives, for the sake of eventually being happy.  We find the right jobs, we develop a respectable career path, we buy homes in the right zip codes, we drive the right cars, we raise our kids the way we believe we’re supposed to, we buy our devices, we take up hobbies that we think will please us, and we encourage our loved ones to do fulfilling things, because we just want them to be happy.

We really do go to a lot of effort, to be happy. And it doesn’t always work.

Anyway, for today, here’s an idea… Think about this: What if you were happy, right here, right now? What if nothing around you actually affected your level of happiness, and regardless of what went on, you were still … happy? What would that feel like? How would that be?

From personal experience, I have to say it’s a little strange. But it’s the sort of thing a person can get used to.

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About Kay Stoner

I'm an independent writer, editor, and trainer, specializing in helping people get - and keep - their jobs.
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