Am I Happy? Today I realized that this question, one that I seem to ask myself frequently, is really a closed question! “Am I Happy?” suggest an end to a process, a definable point, a conclusion of some pursuit.This point never really exist, unless of course you die then someone else would have to make the assumption that you were happy and you wouldn’t be around to confirm… well you get the picture. Besides, what determines happiness? Do we base it on others level of happiness? And if we do, how do we know if they are really happy? What does happy even really mean? Surely what I would define happiness as would not be the same definition as how my husband would define it. Rather than squandering my time trying to figure out what happiness really is, I have decided to focus my energy on a different question. How can I be HAPPIER?
Okay I would love to say that I acquired this new way of thinking all on my own… but I can’t. This was not an epiphany that suddenly came to me. Nope, my new method of thinking of things came to me because of a book I have been reading. How I found this book is quite the interesting story in itself. During our last trip to the library, I told the kids that mommy wanted to do some research. I was looking for books on Happiness. As I rummaged around the endless retrospective of self-help books, Grace disappeared. The next thing I know she comes back with a fluorescent yellow book (I am talking Smiley face yellow) with the word HAPPIER printed on the front. In her other hand she was carrying one of those “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books. Now my Gracie is smart, but there was no way she could have found these books on her own. Afraid to hear the answer… I asked her where she found the books. “Oh I just told the people at the help desk that my mommy really needed some books to make her happy.” she said innocently. “They recommended this Soup book, but then I saw this yellow book and I thought you would like it. Do you like it!” she smiled at me waiting anxiously for my response. How sweet was that. Embarrassing but sweet. I hugged my second born child tightly to my chest, and then took her hand and walked towards the check out, making sure to avoid eye contact with the help desk lady on the way.
So this book has been sitting on my night stand for a week now. Last night as I took the fancy pillows off my bed (why do we have these pretty things on there if we don’t ever use them I still don’t understand) and noticed the unopened book just sitting there. Maybe this smiley face book was a sign. There must have been some reason that my daughter picked it. So I tucked myself into my bed and started to read this book.
The book is by Tal Ben-Shahar who happens to be a Harvard professor. He teaches Positive Psychology- ” the scientific study of optimal human functioning”. Mr. Ben-Shahar does not promise to make you happy in five easy steps, on the contrary he states in the preface of the book that merely reading the book is unlikely to make that happen. The book is designed to be used as a workbook. Through out the chapters you will find “TIME-INS” which are there to remind you to stop and reflect on what you just read. At the end of each chapter there are exercises to try. Ben-Shahar says to try them and if it works for you great, and if it doesn’t, well then try another. After all the whole purpose of the book is to figure out what will make YOU happier.
The first exercise is to establish a ritual for yourself, something you think might make you happy. I have decided to observe 4 o’clock Tea. I am going to try to carve out half an hour for myself every day from 4-4:30 (I think this time will work, we are usually home and the kids are usually done with their homework then) where I will make myself a cup of tea or coffee and just sit and read or maybe just reflect! I told the kids it is mommy’s time. Unless they are bleeding or the house is on fire… they need to leave mommy alone. Will it work, not sure! But it is certainly gong to be fun trying it out. Just the idea of it make me feel happier already! Maybe I will even throw all caution to the wind and use the fancy pillows.