Choose Happiness

This is a story of surprises and taking chances. Or rather, not over thinking. Or not thinking at all. Chances are really just moments when you’re not overthinking, aren’t they. Either you do something immediately or you weigh the options and decide to go with the risky one despite the downsides, which would usually drown you in anxiety.

I met a new person the other night. (this is an anomaly. I keep to myself, as we’ve established. Not coincidentally, most of the friends I have also keep to themselves. So I have a very dear but very exclusive, in the purest sense of the word, group. The few more sociable friends I have don’t have male friends in abundance who aren’t husbands or gay. So it’s rare to be out and meet a new male person.)

This person asked me what I’ve been doing all summer and I blurted “I’ve been having so much fun.”

Wait, what?

Just a few days ago another person asked me when I last really had fun and I couldn’t think of it. I was searching for a memory of a crazy-night-out-omg-this-is-so-much-fun fun. The “lets go to another bar because it’s so much fun” not “oh it’s almost 11 we should go home” fun. The fun where it hits you that you’re really blessed to have this life with these people in this place.

It’s been awhile since I’ve had that kind of fun, yes. Honestly though, after age 19 how much does that fun really come around, especially unaccompanied by drugs and/or alcohol? It’s so overwhelming because it’s so rare. You can’t plan for it. And you can’t assume the lack if it means a lack of fun in your life.

I was shocked by my own admission Id been having fun because I haven’t been spinning around to the music screaming this is so much fun. But this IS so much fun. Every day I have my tea outdoors with a breeze off the ocean. I wake up and my dog is sleeping next to me making the faintest snore. I can go float in the ocean, or read a book, or take a nap, or wander around chatting with new people. I go out a few nights a week with family or friends new or old. I have nothing immediate to worry about.

I think my expectations for happiness are too high. Everyone’s are. If my goal is to be happy, I expect to be happy all the time. When I feel sad, explicably (new word) or inexplicably, everything plummets. I’m so alone and I hate my job and everything is ruined with no solution. There’s either excited anticipation, rare acceptance, or disappointment.

And how could there not be. I’m constantly being inundated with posts on how to achieve this luxury budget vacation or what 19 kitchen gadgets I thought I could live without but can’t. There’s daily updates from friends, acquaintances, and frenemies about kids and husbands and the meal delivery service you can’t get because packages get stolen from your city apartment that you live in because you’re single and are afraid to buy a house in the suburbs alone because no guy would want to move into the girl’s house. Or worse, the emotions spiral of the update about the close friend being on vacation or seeing a show or being pregnant that you see on social media, cutting that much deeper because you don’t talk to them as much since they became real adults. The “what a single person sees on facebook” joke is everywhere, but it really does hit home. You deal not only with your own worries but the unavoidable comparisons that weight heavy and are hard to avoid.

The goal, I think, needs to shift to contentment. Each day, some laughter, some comfort, some gratitude. Some concerted effort at being positive. Am I happy with my life right now? Maybe not. But I can be content in each day and take action to appreciate what I have and seek out what could be better.

As my TJ Maxx dogs-in-pants pajamas say: Choose Happiness. I’m not the first to suggest these magic words–plenty use them for profit in all those ads and sponsored posts that pop between the 1st birthday pictures–but I’m the one that needs to put them into action.



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