I often think about happiness–what it is, what it could be, whether I’ve achieved it, etc. My understanding of happiness changes frequently. Sometimes, happiness is very complex, and it seems impossible that I could ever achieve it, and maybe contentedness is the best I can do. And sometimes happiness seems to be as simple as a cookie or a dirty diaper (not mine), that if someone were to give me a cookie or if my daughter were actually to dirty a diaper, I might be happy.
I am not sure that I would want to live in a world that had a solid definition of happiness. I rather like the uncertainty we all face in trying to find it, whatever it might mean to each of us individually. I could not be happy with someone else’s version of happiness–an evening in with The Bachelor and a bowl of microwave popcorn, perhaps–and I doubt other people could be happy with mine.
I have noticed a certain trend in my own thinking about happiness. When I am generally pleased with myself, not necessarily in a smug way but in a “Great job, Kelly, you haven’t been an asshole lately” kind of way, happiness seems simple and attainable or already attained. When I am plagued by self-doubt (or self-pity), I find myself wondering if I can ever be happy or have ever been happy or even if I deserve to be happy, wondering if all of those moments when I thought I was happy were just evidence of rampant self-delusion. So that, to me, is the key. Self-acceptance breeds happiness in me, and self-doubt is a blight on my happiness.
This all seems obvious, doesn’t it? But when I get caught up in my squirrelly little mind, when I worry that I really am an asshole at heart and that I’ve finally found proof (honestly, just the fact that I am constantly on the lookout for proof…), it seems a lot less obvious that these negative mental habits push me farther and farther from my natural human goal: happiness. I’ll have to think a bit more about whether there is a significant enough value in keeping a tight watch on my suspected inner asshole to justify the potential occasional sacrifice of my happiness. Really, what does it gain me? Am I really likely to turn into a raging jerk the instant I stop my vigilance?… I don’t know.
Those who know me are probably reading this post thinking, seriously, Kel, neurotic much? When I try to take an objective view, I can see that it’s absolutely ridiculous that I spend so much time and energy battling the fear that I’m a total jerk. But I keep doing it, so I must have some reason why. All that to say, yeah… I really am that neurotic.
And, just because Easter’s right around the corner, here’s my favorite picture of Jesus. Ever.