Happiness

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Do you consider yourself a happy person or is happiness one of those things you continually have to work on like, say, your weight? Do you find that happiness is as fickle as the weather in Michigan? Do you have those superficial happy people in your life that sugarcoat every unfortunate event with a dose of crap happiness even though you know deep down they’re hurting? One thing I love is when those superficial happy campers are talking about friends or family in their life and they say, (in my best southern, sarcastic, judgmental accent) “Well, you know, happiness is a choice.”

Sometimes happiness is not a choice. Sometimes life is a roller coaster ride and all you can do is buckle up and go along for the ride. Sometimes life hits you right smack square in the face and happiness is the last thing on your mind.

I remember shortly after I went through my divorce I was doing my best attempt at the superficial happiness thing. Honestly, it felt comfortable on me seems how I was brought up to wear that old superficial happy garment. The only thing I was familiar with when it came to staying away from feeling a lack of happiness was to run. Run as fast and as far away as I can! If I left the door cracked long enough while admitting I wasn’t happy then Unhappiness’ ugly cousin Depression might sneak in and plop down on the couch before I can get the door shut and locked again.

So I ran . . . and ran . . . and ran . . . and ran. Until finally, I gave myself pneumonia because I ran so hard so long. It was during that time that I realized what I was running from. This happiness I was pretending to wear carried me until I couldn’t run anymore. Finally, stripped of all my health and energy I was left sitting alone on my couch one weekday morning.

Sitting there in a zombie-like fashion hardly awake or aware, I had CMT (Country Music Television) videos playing on TV. I was doing just fine until “Real Life” by Jeff Carson came on. I never heard that song before so it wasn’t anything familiar. The first verse was about a boy and his dog, the second was about High School sweethearts, and then the third verse stopped me dead in my tracks. He described the scene in the hospital when his first child was born. As the song was playing, “And I never was the same again. From that moment on Real Life began” the floodgates opened from my heart and poured out my eyes. I had never cried so uncontrollably before. It took five minutes to regain enough composure to even attempt to walk to the bathroom for some Kleenex. I willed myself to my feet and by the time I made it to my refrigerator and saw my children’s pictures plastered on the freezer I lost it again and threw my head down on the counter and just bawled.

You see, before my ex left I worked third shift. Arriving home, I would pull in the garage, open the car door and stand behind the house door to listen. I would hear the pitter-patter of their little feet running to the door with excitement while my daughter was yelling, “Daddy’s home, daddy’s home!” (She was almost 3 and my son was just over 1) Several months into my divorce I was avoiding having to feel the disappointment of coming home to an empty house. I took on a second job, I surrounded myself with friends, I never went home except to sleep and dirty a few dishes. The pain and agony was there trying to come out but I just kept shoving it back down and ignoring it.

The nice thing about Happiness is she doesn’t throw herself on you. She’s patient and kind and willing to let you come to her. She understands when life throws you a curveball and you need some time to figure out your junk.

On the other hand, Happiness’ ugly twin sister, Superficial Happiness, doesn’t want you to have any time to deal with any junk. She’ll keep you running until your health forces you onto the couch with no energy or life left in you. She’ll make you tell all your friends and family that, oh, gee shucks, everything is just dandy.

Like the picture at the top of this blog, Superficial Happiness will keep you stuck doing a job you hate for years, sometimes decades. She will get you to shove your dreams so deep that you can’t even remember what you dreamt about. She will dull your senses to the point where you can’t see beauty even when it’s right in front of your face.

Let me be clear here, sometimes happiness is not a choice. Sometimes you have to go to the depths of your pain in order to find healing. Sometimes you have to kick Superficial Happiness out the door and do some serious bawling. Sometimes you have to take a moment and feel real life.

Are you happy? Is your happiness superficial or are you really happy? Are you dealing with something that is standing between you and happiness? If so, that’s ok. Better to be honest and deal with it than to be superficially happy. Take some time today and reflect on your happiness. Where do you fall on the 1-10 scale from Depressed (1) to Truly Happy (10)? No matter what face you show the world, only you really know where you fall on this scale. If you’re not as high as you would like, get some help. Nothing wrong with admitting you might need a little extra coaching in this area.

Wishing you many hours with Happiness!

~Travis

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