If You’re Happy and You Know It …

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Last week I said something to my husband that has lingered in the air ever since.

“I don’t think I’m happy here,” I said. “And I need to do something about it.”

It was very late at night. He had just worked a long day at his magazine closing an issue. And I had worked my own long one at home being a full-time mother from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and then a writer and journalist the rest of the evening (7:45 p.m.-midnight). We were both stretched past tired. Raising such a hefty topic just as we slipped under the covers was probably not the best timing. But it needed to be said. It was swimming at the surface.

I assured him that I wasn’t unhappy unhappy, as in depressed and despondent and in need of expert care. Then I told him that I needed a few days to flesh out what I was trying to say to him. I had to think this through and gather up the language for what I was feeling.

There were a few obvious things that fed into this uneasiness:

  • Still trying to settle into our new space and life here in Montclair
  • Working too late at night after full days in Mommyhood, resulting in exhaustion
  • Trying to keep all four burners going on high (A theory my wise, little sister told me about. Read more on the “Four Burners Theory” here.)
  • Not having my routines in place (running, yoga, writing time, etc.)
  • Not connecting with other adults (There have been a few days this last month where I haven’t spoken to anyone over the age of 17 months for the entire day.)

Understand. I’m not moping around the place, weepy and pointing at a dark cloud hanging over my head. In fact, I laugh often. (You would too if you spent just an hour with my son. Seriously.) I like our new space. It’s sunny and inviting and rather charming. This town is a pleasant one, as I started to see two weeks in. Plus, there have been many bright moments and cool developments in my career in the last two months.

Still, there was something else at play. Something not sitting right.

Then yesterday morning I read this post from one of my fave photobloggers and things started to come into finer focus. Karen talking about happiness set points made me realize that my happiness needed some repositioning.

In general, I’m a happy person, but lately I’ve found myself easily annoyed by trivial things and the exasperation has lingered too long, leaving me feeling off-balanced.

In her blog post, Karen also talked about happiness being an emotion and a decision. I wholeheartedly agree. So this is me, making the decision to be happy, and in an authentic way. It will take some work, but—as part of my resolve—I’m prepared and even looking forward to doing it.

And it starts now.

For me, September has long been the time for renewal and resolutions. It’s when I like to welcome in freshness, push the reset button. (It’s probably a throwback to the start of the new school year.) So I’m using the month of August to plot my Grand Return to Happiness. I already have some clear ideas on what needs to happen to move me along in the right direction. It’s all doable. And, moreover, all necessary.

Stay tuned …

  • 1

    This sounds so familiar! I need to make the time to figure out what makes me happy because, while I’m not despondent, I’m not truly happy either. I love your idea and would love to join you in the Grand Return to Happiness.

    On a side note, I grew up in Montclair (on South Mountain Ave). I haven’t lived there for – oh my god, it’s been 16 years now! – but it was a wonderful place to grow up. We used to ride our bikes down to Clinton Ave and play with all the kids that lived there. Very family friendly:) Good luck and I hope you get to stay more than a year.

    Mary Beth

    • 1.1
      Ms. Mack says:

      Hi, Mary Beth-

      First, thanks for checking out the blog and leaving a comment.
      Next, welcome aboard the train. Destination: Back to Happiness!

      There are many really helpful tools and resources online that can guide us/anyone along. Definitely check out chookooloonks.com. Her posts on creating life lists, setting goals and finding what you love are must-reads. Also, visit chrisguillebeau.com (where the “Four Burners” discussion came up). He even has an Excel spreadsheet for you to use for your “annual review.”

      Another great site (there’s also a book): http://www.happiness-project.com

      Just a few launch points. Best of luck to you. Keep me posted!


  • 2
    Nailah says:

    This post is great! I’m happy to hear that you’re taking the steps to build a killer happiness foundation. I think I will also use August to plot out my own Return to Happiness plan. Thanks for inspiration!

  • 3

    happiness is a decision.


    it’s so true. and so hard to remember. partly because i don’t want it to be a decision. (i can be a little lazy!) i want it to be a feeling that comes over me because everything. is. so. great. but, alas, it doesn’t work that way. (and, really, where did i get that idea? it certainly isn’t the way i ever experienced happiness!)

    thank you for the reminder. and let us know if you need one, too, some days. together maybe we can all work it out!

    • 3.1
      Ms. Mack says:

      Thanks, One Hungry Mama. I’m locked into this thing and not stepping out of the vehicle until I reach the destination. The trip alone should be interested and affirming, but it’s good to know that there are other folks out there (Exhibit A: you) who will fuel me up with encouragement.

  • 4

    I “favorited” the link to this post when Karen tweeted it the day you posted. In one of the many connections that have to be made in the right order, I am just reading it tonight, almost exactly a month later. A night when I’m frustrated and tired and anxious and happy and loved. A night when I had a conversation with my husband that started very much like the one you had with your husband.

    Whatever you believe in, I was supposed to read your post tonight, when I was ready. Now I can start plotting my own journey. Thank you for your words.

    • 4.1
      Ms. Mack says:

      Oh, I do believe in things coming together when they should, Sherry. So glad that I could a part of this moment for you.
      Plot, plot, plot on! Do keep me posted on your progress.

      Thanks for this great comment.