Sunday, February 21, 2010

happy is as happy does

...or something like that...

There is a resurgence in the quest for happiness. But not the silly, giddy, just smile and all will be well kind of happiness. Not the doped up/medication induced zombie wife false happiness of the mythical suburban housewife stereotypes.

No. This is a search for the happiness that comes as a part of everyday life. The happiness that occurs in tandem with life, in tandem with the struggles and the sun and the clouds and the traffic and the kids/cats/dogs/partners/work. And so on.

Revisiting the idea of happiness was first sparked by Ariel Gore's newest book, Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness. She does an excellent job of looking at, obviously, women and happiness - across a span of time and sharing academic and literary resources, as well as results of her own research and focus group, all mixed in with her own experiences. It's a nice journey through the field of women's happiness from the 70's to the present - insightful and honest with good feminist analysis of how others have tried to tell us what happiness is. And they haven't always been right.

So - back to what I was saying.

Ariel's book has sparked several conversations and blog posts around this topic. Emi Ha started a new blog (or re-titled her previous one) and gave it a new focus: Are You Happy Now? She has been writing about Bluebird for a few weeks - well, including it in the posts, along with two other related books she has been reading.

This conversation and reading about happiness has got me thinking about it, too. I'm definitely a skeptic of the "all you have to do is think it and it will be so" mode of improving one's life. "Smile and the world smiles with you" seems like a set-up and "fake it til you make it" may have its uses, but it's also a set-up for major sad feelings at least if it doesn't go the way you think or the thing you're faking turns out to not really be You. Practical and appropriate uses of that - yes; and it's been over used and sometimes people miss the action that has to happen concurrently or as a result of the thinking well.

From Bluebird, I decided I'd start trying to notice the positive, too. It doesn't negate that not everything is perfect or exactly what I think I want - but it would help me start paying attention equally to what is working or when I feel good. Notice it and do it more.

The first line on today's post at "Are You Happy Now?" is:

It's amazing to me how so something seemingly small and insignificant can
make a person so happy.

(feel free to hop on over to her blog to see what the small, insignificant happiness-inducing thing is!)
Yesterday I had one of those seemingly insignificant events that made me very happy. The big Q finally sent a repair man (yes it was a man - and there were two of them) to the house to take care of the intermittent internet connection issues we've been dealing with since October. I won't go down the road of frustration it's taken because... tada ... The issue was finally repaired (yes, it could have been solved back in October - letitgoletitgo). And while I logged on and connected to my email to retrieve student videos - it all worked. I didn't get bumped off, booted out, slowed down. I was able to finally complete grading of the mid-term videos. And I felt happy.

Happy that I could get where I needed to go online and get some grading done.

Then, today, I had a long job. But a job with some down time. And during that down time I was able to plan out observations for the student interns I'm teaching. Again - happy. Some forced down time and I accomplished something.

And on out to my car after the job and it was sunny. My car was warm from sitting in the sun and the mid-50 degree temperature felt good. Driving with my window rolled down and the heat off and the cool-warm air coming in through the vents. Sun on my face, my neck, my arms. And I was smiling. Not fake smiling or it's sunny I should smile. But a smile of wanting to get outside and walk and walk and explore and know there are many possibilities.

I see it's supposed to start raining again on Tuesday; typical for this region for this time of year. And I will try to carry the sun inside me and the body memory of being happy and smiling because I felt good, knowing when I was going to observe the students and knowing I can now connect to the internet and sail smoothly on the fiber optic ocean.

And I have a new label in my blog list: happiness.
ps: one more bit of happiness. The online ariel gore writing workshop/class started yesterday. And I did my first quick write. Wow - I'm soaring from that. I have been "too busy to write." I think the correct phrase is that I have been too busy because I'm not writing.