Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Too happy to be happy

Maverick: Are you happy?

MrsWhich: Right now?

Mav: Right now.

MW: Yes. But I’m also anxious.

Mav: Anxious about what?

MW: Anxious that this happiness is a trick, a moment in time, a bubble in a sea of torment, chaos and destruction.

Mav: That’s really heavy metaphoring. Perhaps you could explain?

MW: There’s something a little off about how incredible my life is. I’m so happy, so often, that I’m almost bored with being happy. But it all feels so fragile. One natural disaster. One car crash. One illness. One abnormal cell. One job loss. It could all come crashing down. And then, then I would NOT be happy.

Mav: Hmmm.

MW: I am filled with a dreadful awe of the beauty of so many moments in my life, watching them with wonder and fear.

Mav: That sounds difficult.

MW: I want to say, I’d like to just stay here, keep just this balance - if I knew it would stay like this, I could relax into it and enjoy it.

Mav: You’re saying you want a guarantee that your happiness quotient won’t drop from current levels?

MW: Essentially, yes.

Mav: And you won’t be happy until you know that you won’t have to be less happy in the future?

MW: No, but I would feel less anxious, and thus more happy, if I had a wider buffer zone for maintaining the current conditions in which happiness exists.

Mav: What does that mean?

MW: I think, if I had enough money that I didn’t have to worry about generating money, it would reduce the number of likely scenarios in which my current life conditions would be threatened. It would take less time and require less effort to maintain the current levels of time spent happy, and pave the way to create more happy time.

Mav: So you think money will buy you the ability to enjoy the happiness you already have?

MW: Intellectually, I know that happiness is not something that can be created externally, but some circumstances lend themselves more readily to happiness than others. Having more time and less accountability for earning income permits increased attention to body and spirit, and direction of energies into areas of highest interest. Lack of money leads to working three jobs you hate and letting your health go. It’s not a false idea. Money does buy a certain degree of happiness. There have been studies.

Mav: I’m sure there have.

MW: It’s not directly correlated. It’s not that more money automatically buys more happiness. It’s that maybe there is a range in which optimal happiness can be attained, and that range has a lot to do with what kinds of things interest you and make you happy. I have a lot of happiness in my life, but worry that I’m just sneaking into my optimal range by a nose. I could fall out at any time. I want more money.

Mav: So if you had more money, you would feel more secure in your current condition, which would allow you to better enjoy and grow your current condition, which is happy?

MW: Yes.

Mav: And that makes sense to you?

MW: I get glimpses where I see the falseness, but they fade away in the stark reality of daily choices made on the basis of funds, not what is best for the family on other metrics that matter to me.

Mav: So having some elements of your life be disappointing or frustrating interferes with your enjoyment of your happiness?

MW: I covet money. I want to be zen about it. I understand that coveting money interferes with my daily experience. But it’s not as simple as wanting money. What I really want is safety. I want to know that I get to keep this happiness. That my paltry memory isn’t all that will exist of this incredible, unbelievable now. I want to know that this happiness exists forever, preserved. I want to stay in it, and I know I can't.

Mav: You’re so happy that you can’t be happy?

MW: I guess so.

Mav: So, how likely is it that you'll have enough money to feel safe? Like, ever in your lifetime?

MW: I don't know how to judge that.

Mav: How about in the next five years? Very likely, Likely, Not very likely, Not at all likely?

MW: Not very likely?

Mav: So it's not very likely that you will be happy in the next five years, even though you live a very happy life?

MW: Depressing, isn't it?

Mav: Sure is.


  1. A big smile. Once again, you are me. My daughter recently said something about finally finding happiness. I told her this, hang on to it, because it comes and goes, and that is part of what makes it wonderful. It is sad when it goes, but then you can look forward to its return. And I'm not talking about extremes here, the things that can ruin happiness forever, just the ebb and flow of that state that feels like happiness.
    And yes, that safety, money could provide it. I am not there. But I wonder sometimes how complacent I would become if I were? And I know that I will probably never get to test that theory. But then I think about how much worse it could be, and I try to feel blessed by what I have. This is life, these fears, the moments of joy, then doubt, then bliss.

  2. I struggle with the fading of my family fortune all the time, and cannot tell if riches would really make me happier or I am only conflating early childhood with adult happiness.

  3. Money isn't it. You know that. I don't know how to explain it to anybody, but money just IS NOT IT. Not for me at least. Oh back 11 years ago when everything I had worked for and dreamed of went poof bye bye with the ex-husband's addictions and duplicity sure I thought "Aw shit, there is not a way I can make it with 4 horses, an ancient Nomad trailer and my Jeep". But that's all that was left and I did live through it, and I was happy. For a while. Then I got deadly sick and my health went poof bye bye for a long time, but I didn't die - I made it. So happiness was not money and it was not health. So what the heck DOES make me happy (those who know me will tell you I am one happy woman).

    Happy (or happiness) is a decision that I make daily, well maybe sometimes hourly. I cannot tell you how to do this, I just do it. I believe that it comes from my willingness to indulge my childlike delight in the world, especially the natural world and from my complete unwillingness to share any more of my precious life with worry, fear, dread, or negativity.

  4. Robyn, you've achieved beyond my imagination by living through what I fear. I don't know if I have your capacity, which is where the fear really comes from. You're full of power. I'm just building mine. Thanks for being in my learning circle.

  5. you know, i quit using the h-word a long time ago. it just seemed too unattainable. like i was always setting myself up for failure. i know i'm supposed to be happy. i know i'm supposed to be in charge of being happy. blah blah blah blah blah. but one day, i just up and erased the h-word from my life's dictionary. delight? oh yes, i do delight . . . but there seems a difference. like delight is supposed to be - by definition - more fleeting while happiness is supposed to be more lasting. me, i decided to seek contentment. stillness. peace.


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