If I Could Dive Into A Vat of Happiness

I have loved reading the posts in Momalom’s epic Five for Ten tour around the blogosphere.  I have felt truly inspired and feel like I’ve actually learned while reading some of the gripping stories that have been shared.

Ever since this happiness topic was up for consideration, I’ve been well, considering it, a lot. I read a post yesterday on the blog Shameless Agitator and it really struck a chord within me.  She wrote about one of her favorite sayings which is….

“Happiness is overrated. Strive for contentment.”

That works for me, you know? I would definitely call myself a happy person, but even more than that? I am realizing that I am content. And I am beginning to believe that within contentment is where happiness lives.

Our culture and our nature pushes us constantly towards thinking we can achieve one glorious version of happiness.  From as early as I can remember, I feel like life has been structured with endless goals that have been designed to eventually all add up to that single vision of happiness and one day, I will finally end up collapsing into that big fluffy chair of happiness.

Earning good grades, scoring a goal on the soccer field, having a boyfriend, getting a part in a play, winning a track race, wearing nice clothes, graduating from college, finding a job, traveling, getting married, renting a nice place to live, buying a home, having children, not having debt, buying nice furniture, making sure all of the laundry is put away in drawers…..the list goes on and on and on and on and on. Ad infinitum. Always reaching for the end of something so I can stop and say, “Whew!!! Now? I’m happy!! Task accomplished. Happiness surging through my veins.  Hooray!”

And this aspect of happiness seeking is what has been one of the hardest things for me when it comes to becoming a mother. There really never is an end in sight when it comes to raising my kids.  There isn’t one sign that tells me that I’ve accomplished the task.  I can never really relax back into that chair of fluffy happiness and proclaim, “I’m done. I did it. I’m happy.”

I am learning the art of jumping into looking around and seeing the chaos and the mess and letting contentment surge through my veins.  Contentment that I am living and doing and making mistakes and learning and stumbling and tripping and getting up again.  Contentment in seeing that in the literal mess that lies scattered around my home there are living, breathing souls that were created in love and partnership with a soul mate of man that I was lucky enough to marry.  Contentment in realizing the mess never really ends. It just takes on different shapes along the way.

But oh man, trying to harness the happiness that lives within contentment takes a keen eye, a strong spirit and a lot of damn hard work.

But I’m getting better at it.  I think.

But let’s say there really was one final destination of happiness.  A fluffy comfy chair, the end of the road, a ocean view room, a big vat of happy happy.  What would be in that vat for me?

A huge flowering bush of jasmine, flip-flops, beach sand, an orange convertible Kharman Ghia, some Dave Matthews and Chris Cornell tunes, a starry sky, a warm desert night, three cool kids and one gorgeous loving man.  Yep, that is what is in my one big vat of happiness.

And uh, hey. I’ve got all of that.

Yep, I’m happy.  But more than that, I am content.

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10 Responses to “If I Could Dive Into A Vat of Happiness”

  1. Corinne says:

    I think they can totally go hand in hand, happiness and contentment. Not all the time, but sometimes 🙂 And when it occurs, it’s oh so good, especially when unexpected.

  2. kate says:

    “But oh man, trying to harness the happiness that lives within contentment takes a keen eye, a strong spirit and a lot of damn hard work.”

    yes. i struggle with staying focused on the overall picture instead of getting bogged down by whatever speedbump is fast approaching. thanks for reminding me of that!

  3. katie says:

    Well written! That list is endless and there is always something else … for today, naptime for the baby and my 4 year old at a three hour playdate makes me happy!!

  4. Ash says:

    Wise words chica.

    I used to have a boss who told me “never say good enough” – I think he was totally wrong – sometimes good enough is good enough.

    Happiness is fleeting. Contentment is forever. Long live the green grass on our side of the fence and good enough!

  5. mama-face says:

    This is perfection. I’ve wasted a lot of time waiting for the next stage…

    Love the new look.

  6. Oooh I love this post, Lee. I love the ending, especially. Is there room in the fluffy chair for two? Can I come snuggle when your hubby’s out of town so we can crank the tunes and swoon over Chris Cornell together?

    I just commented elsewhere that I got a whole lot happier when I decided not to let my happiness depend on the outcomes (or accomplishment/completion of) the things I wanted or needed to do in life. I’ll keep working on and toward those things, but I won’t let my happiness depend on them. You know?

    Dude. You’re fantastic. I love this post.

    xo e.

  7. Sarah says:

    So, the beginning of this post made me think about the fact that when asked what we want for our kids, most of us will say “I just want them to be happy.” And there it is. It starts so early. Because, while it’s true, we are already telling ourselves and telling our children that happiness is this attainable thing that, once found, will be lasting. When in truth, what we are really talking about is contentment, right? But it doesn’t sound as good. It doesn’t give us as many warm, cushie feelings to say, “I just want my kids to be content.” For me, I want my kids to push past content and reach happy. But I know that they have to learn contentment to find the happy, or something like that.

    Talking out of exhaustion, I suppose, but I get it. I do. And I 100% internalized it. And the big, comfy chair? It’s not at the end of it all for me, it’s where I stop to rest from time to time and catch a moment of !!! as I look up and see my boys smiling and laughing with one another.

    Beautiful reflection on happiness and some of the best writing I’ve seen here. Thank you!

  8. Anto says:

    A wonderful feel good post! I think happiness is a treasure within us. We need to have the willingness to bring out of us and experience them in our day today lives. The choice is entirely ours. Life doesn’t promise anything to us It just gives us choice and opportunity and we are the ones who need to make the decision to be happy.

  9. Uh huh. I’m right with ya, sister.

    And I really miss you too!!! Ryan has been traveling every freaking week and I’ve been a chicken with my noggin cut off. (gross)

    Let’s talk on the phone soon!!! I miss your voice and laugh and stories and wisdom.

    Love you.

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