Happiness is…

Chances are, if I were to ask everyone who reads my blog what happiness is (without allowing you to Google something clever), I would get a different response from everyone of you. If you ask me every day this week, I’ll likely give you a different answer each time, but one of the things I’m pretty solid on is that happiness is not a long-term emotion.happiness_is_short_lived_by_pupazzoso-d2xtdx1 Joy, contentment, and other positive states of being are more long-term, but I tend to think of happiness as a sort of short-lived spike in my mood. There are a lot of things that make me happy – coffee, crunchy fall leaves to step on, thunderstorms, hearing my dad or brother pray, a good hair day, whatever. It doesn’t take much to make me happy, either. One good Billy Joel song on the radio while I’m driving and I’m golden. 

this_is_my_happy_face_by_twotigermoon-d5qqvatHowever, I’m not great at showing it most of the time. I think because I sometimes forget that what seems so vivid in my mind isn’t known to everyone else, so while I may be perfectly content in whatever it is I’m doing, that doesn’t spill over into something other people see. In fact, sometimes I’m having such a good time that it pushes me more inward, where I can think about it more and more. Sometimes, when it’s a more personal happiness, I tend to keep it to myself (and just a very few friends) because I am not ready to share it yet. I know, that sounds strange to my extroverted friends, but it’s how I function. As a result, people misread my quietness for unhappiness, the lack of perkiness as sullenness. I’m not saying that I’m a robot who is never perky or cheerful, only that it’s not a dominating characteristic.

Recently, someone told me that she was worried because I seem unhappy. She happens to be someone who is quite the opposite of me, often bubbly and chatty, and I believe that she’s sincere in her concern. I appreciate her concern, and her willingness to talk to me about it. It made me think about whether or not I am “happy” right now. If I’m honest, I haven’t been for most of the time during the last couple months.

Here’s the thing, though – I’m not UNhappy, either. Not being happy and being unhappy are two different things. The last couple of months have been stressful. Not the same kind of stressful as I had day after day in the town I just left, but in the last 2 months I’ve:

  • Had mono
  • Moved away from my family
  • Moved away from my friends
  • Moved away from my person
  • Left my congregation
  • Started in a new position in a ministry team instead of on my own
  • Tried to learn a new town
  • Moved to a town where I knew virtually no one in a state I’ve never lived in before
  • Dealt with upheaval and conflict in my new ministry
  • Continued losing weight(and occasionally gaining, and sometimes plateauing)
  • Lost a friendship of more than two decades
  • Tried to learn a new congregation
  • Worried about both of my best friends. A lot. 
  • Continued to work on managing my anxiety disorder and PTSD

Not the most stressful season I’ve had, but it hasn’t been a summer with any kind of routine or sense of normalcy, so while I have had moments of happiness – getting to buy smaller jeans than before, an iced latte and Springsteen while I’m driving, a new dress that makes my boobs look great, a relaxing day at the fair with friends, to name a few of them – it has been stressful. Not debilitating or anything, but still worth noting. My therapist says that I have a high stress tolerance, which is good, I suppose. It’s much better than the alternative. Unfortunately, while I can handle the stress pretty well, it does mean that I am not exactly a bubbly person.

I have to figure out how to get better at communicating my moods, but I’m not sure how to not get anxious about it. I have to figure out how to not be fake about it. I’m often a serious person, an intellect who is selectively amused, and people don’t know what do to with that. People often seem to not know what to do with me. 

Am I happy? Not most of the time. I’m not unhappy, though, and that’s important.

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About BearsGrl8

I'm a geek, a "Supernatural" fangirl, a progressive, an introverted loud-mouth, a damn fine cook, a Bears fan, a Blackhawks fan, and a fantastic aunt.

Posted on August 25, 2014, in Anxiety, On Being a Woman and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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