Sun causes freckles. Sugar causes cavities. Neglect causes weeds. What causes Happy?
I set out to find out. First, I took the boys to the library so I could check out a few books and magazines on the topic while they read Curious George and James and the Giant Peach. When we got back home, I decided to expand my research by Googling “Happiness, causes of.” The general consensus was: Happy comes from within. What kind of garbage was this?
That can’t be right. Unless they meant the chocolate-mint ice cream the boys and I had just eaten five minutes prior (that was still “within” my stomach-ular region), Happy was not within. Maybe I should have a second scoop to rule out the possibility for sure.
One of my dear friends, April, told me that her New Year’s Resolution was to focus on being Happy every day. Huh? How do you do that? She said she was going to give her children her full attention instead of tiny shreds here and there. She also said she was going to try to be more grateful for what she had in her life (family, friends, health, job, her dog) instead of obsessing about what was lacking (material possessions, exotic vacations, a good relationship with her brother). She even went so far as to buy a "Happiness Journal," so she could record her memories of being Happy every single day.
I want to be more like April (well, except the owning-of-a-dog part and the New-Agey journal part). I want to be here in the moment, I want to focus on the task at hand instead of being so damn distracted all the time. My brain is like flakes of snow, scattered here and there, blown around by the wind.
I think of things that have made me Happy in the past: Hawaii bolts to the front of the list. Ah, yes, I’ve been Happy in Hawaii, and I’m sure I could find Happy there again. How could anyone not be Happy on a pristine beach with a pineapple margarita in her hand? Also, I’ve noticed when I make the time to exercise, I get Happy (I could combine two Happys—run on the beach in Hawaii!). My sons usually make me Happy (deliriously Happy, actually, when they’re asleep at the end of a long day). The Husband makes me Happy. Sometimes. He’d probably say the same of me: sometimes.
Maybe it’s easier to identify what makes me NOT Happy. When my sons are bickering or shoving each other or interrupting every little thing I try to get done (phone call, load of laundry, dishes, quick email), that makes me not Happy. (Of course, huge injustices/ starvation/ lack of medicine/ political unrest in the world make me not Happy; but right now, I’m examining my tiny shoebox habitat of Crazy Town.) I’m not Happy when our house morphs into a Wasteland of Messiness a mere three minutes after I cleaned it. When I don’t get any “alone time,” any time for just me, MOV, I feel my Happy slink away. Sometimes I am a Greta Garbo mom—“I want to be alone!”
Shhh, I think I hear my Happy right now. The Husband took the boys to the grocery store, and I am by myself.
("Move Over, Valium")