Monday, January 17, 2011
I recently read an article in the Smith College Alumni Quarterly that totally captivated my attention. The article was called, The Happiness Paradox, by Andrea Cooper, and was focused on women and happiness (what defined happiness to various women). The article took into consideration factors and other questions such as a woman’s self-pressure to feel or be happy; “….. [Are] intelligent, compassionate, often overworked women [expected) to feel happy all the time? …… Is happiness something to be pursued?”
I often think about my own happiness and am happy to say that I really am happy most of the time! I can’t say that I felt that way in my childhood or my teen years (who did?) …. Or even my 20’s and 30’s. However, I think those years for, most part are a rollercoaster of self-discovery and struggle sprinkled with moments of happiness. Now however, I feel happy as a whole, which means the peaks and valleys of unhappiness are just not there. That’s not to say for instance, if I lost my partner, or a family member, or found out I had cancer that I would not go into a period of great sadness or despair. I would, for sure. The question for me would be, would I be able to rebound and create or re-create a state of happiness? I see happiness as something that has to be created .... as in I create my own happiness by the choices I make and those experiences I choose to absorb, tune into and pay attention to (such as taking in an amazing sun-rise from the field accross our street or getting on the floor and playing with our dogs).
I consider myself a very resilient person. I don’t know where that quality came from but in my case I think my resilience and happiness are partly inherited. I also consider myself, for the most part, to be an optimist. I don’t do well when surrounded by negative energy …. my internal chemistry changes and my body absorbs it. I have made choices in my life during the past several years to avoid negative energy. My father has always been the eternal optimist. This is a guy who started his own business from scratch with a small amount of money. He ran for mayor …and lost. He was a talented runner who ran every day at lunchtime. He got hit by a car during a run in the early 90’s, lost a leg, had severe brain trauma (to the point where he had trouble putting a simple puzzle together) and went on to make a full recovery. He kept a pair of running shoes in his closet for years, thinking he might be able to run again one day. He never complained about his injuries or accident. He just went on. He rides his bike just about everyday – as long as he can workout, he’s a happy camper. I get that. My mother, although she passed when I was young from her own personal period of despair, had such a bubbly personality and the most upbeat voice – it will always and forever be remembered in my head. I consider myself to be lucky. I feel I am in a state of homeostasis, meaning all realms of my life right now are aligned and balanced. Certainly the ways I manage to create and balance my life differs from someone else. I will say that exercise plays a big role in my ability to balance aspects of my life. I'm a better partner, more productive worker, better listener and all around happier camper thanks to exercise. How happy would I be if I could not exercise?
I’d like to share some of the quotes from various women from the happiness article. I found them all to be totally inspiring and wanted to pass them on to inspire anyone who is reading this blog. Read and maybe question your own happiness;
“The more comfortable you are with yourself, the more you define your own happiness.” – Annie Mortia
“To be happy …. You want to be doing things and not over-thinking.” – Smith Professor, Peake
“Little things that make her happy usually involve a physical component coupled with some sort of indulgence, like hiking all morning and stopping for blueberry pancakes on the way home.” – Dawn Dill
“…. life is such a combination of threats and opportunities …. If we’re not resilient, we will fall.”
-Barbara Becker Holstein (speaking on resilience).
“…. practicing gratitude and mindful awareness of what we can have can bring about happiness…” - Peggie Gillespie
“Happy is always thrust into a future that never comes. We truly only have now. Now is where our power is.” – Sheila Steplar
“…. Happiness may not lie in what happens to you but in how you respond.” – Lynne Thomas