What makes you happy?


I read a blog post earlier over on Moorea Seal’s blog this morning. I’m not a regular of Moorea Seal yet, I was over there reading the guest post by Sarah Von of Yes and Yes, of which I am a regular.

The post, if you don’t want to go and read it, was about a girl who felt stuck in a rut, because she’d achieved the goals she’d set herself. She has a boyfriend, an apartment, a dog, a job she likes, but she is left with the feeling of ‘is this it?’

Sarah Von did her best to respond to this overly self-indulgent question, but it riled me. I wrote a comment back, but here’s what it got me thinking about:

Are the goals you’re aiming for really going to make you happy?

I don’t know if this is a feminist issue (referring to another of Sarah Von’s posts) or an indictment on society in general, but it’s a point I’ve noted increasingly lately and discussed at length with friends. Is job, mortgage, marriage, with a little travel, all any of us (male or female) are striving for these days? I have a mortgage, I have a good job, I travel to some awesome places, I don’t have a marriage or in fact boyfriend, though it’s definitely not the last goal that I need to check off my list, but maybe this is the only thing that’s fending off the listlessness. Mmm…it isn’t.

I’m not saying that any of these things are bad and I’m not anti the institution of marriage or against mortgages because they propogate the greed of banks or whatever; I work for a bank, I love it. I guess I’m just asking people (I have been asking the people around me) to really consider what really makes them happy. Will it be achieving all those tangibly quantifiable assets or is there something else? Are people allowing societal pressures/norms to dictate what they believe will make them happy or are they genuinely identifying what will make them happy and going and doing it? Quite frequently there is a disconnect between what you think should make you happy and what actually will.

In all honesty, my mortgage is a pain in the a*se, it might even be holding me back, and I don’t think having a man in my life at the moment would make anything less complicated or more enhanced (apart from the obvious things you need a man for).

I don’t think pawning your TV or changing your latte to a macchiato is the answer, I think broadening your horizons and questioning your expectations might be.

I think The Naked Redhead writes some awesome posts which, intentionally or not, feel like they challenge people’s expectations and assumptions. Check her out. She’s a little less grumpy than me.

I’m lucky that I’m not generally surrounded by people that judge me on my relationship status, job, salary, home ownership status. I’m not saying I’m the happiest, most content person ever, but I know the things that do make me smile and I know that achieving other things would be great, but won’t complete me.

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  • moorea seal August 26, 2011, 5:28 pm

    Love this 🙂
    I think the challenge of seeking and understanding the concept of happiness is relative to different people. As for myself, happiness has a LOT to do with community and less to do with material things. Though, turning off the tv is a simple action, it does remind me that hey, a better option and more fulfilling thing that will lead me to happiness right now is to give someone I love a call to see how they are doing.

    I am a quiet, reflective introverted person and I work from home. That means a LOT of alone time. And I think that I like it… but it doesn’t exactly lead me to a deeper happiness. My grandmother, the woman I most admire in the world, passed away unexpectedly a few weeks ago so I dropped everything and flew down to mourn and celebrate her life with my family. While I was with my family, going through the process of grieving as an individual and a collective, I was overflowing with both tears and laughter. Laughter because we were able to talk freely about all that we loved about my grandma, the sweet things, the funny things, the quirky things. I was experiencing deep pain for her passing, but that the same time I was experiencing a deeper joy than I have felt over the past year. I was experiencing a reverence for the woman I admire most. I was able to find happiness and thankfulness in the fact that I got to have her in my life for 25 important years. I was able to have deep bonding moments with my family members. In mourning, I found a true experience of happiness.

    What emotion is actually simple? To me, all experiences are complicated, filled with not just one emotion but maybe two or 3 or 4. Seeking happiness can’t just be seeking happiness alone. At least to me it seems. Seeking community, seeking depth in relationships, openness to change and discussion, seeking to be kind to others, respecting others and doing ones best to love and understand others, to me these things lead to happiness. My grandma’s passing was HARD. But in allowing myself to just soak up the entire experience of mourning, I found a deeper joy and happiness than I have felt in so long, because that joy was rooted in community and an unconditional love within my family.

    xo moorea seal

    • Jo Darby August 26, 2011, 8:27 pm

      Thank you so much for this comment. I haven’t posted the comment I intended you on your blog yet, because I was at work at the time and I don’t think it sent, something about firewalls. I’ll try and rewrite it and post it soon.

      I really enjoy your writing and this comment is more poigniant than you could realise.

      Thanks again,
      Jo x