Thursday, July 30, 2009

Constantly seeking

So, my friend Mir's blog posting today was about making the choice to be happy. I've heard this kind of thing before, and it is true enough. Not necessarily for people who are facing an actual crisis in their lives--then the choice to be happy may really be elusive, and they can only hang on until better days come. For a large portion of us, the economy is really threatening our well-being. For those who are involuntarily unemployed, times are tough--I don't mean to minimize that.

But how about the other 80% of us?

For many of us, most of the time, life here in America is pretty good. Sure, the job, family, kids, TV season may not be perfect. But we have shelter, we have paychecks, healthy families, do not live in a war zone, and are not at risk of starving if our crops don't come in. It really can be a choice to be happy--these words are true.

They are not easy to follow, though. I am a seeker (no, not the quidditch type, you geeks!)–constantly striving to improve all aspects of my life. I wish my house was cleaner and better organized. My kids could be working harder at school, or participating in more horizon-expanding activities. I could do a better job at work (there is ALWAYS more work to do), or I could try for that next promotion. My marriage, like most, could use more couple time. I should write more poetry, finish that quilt, knit more socks for charity, learn new skills for work and life. I could figure out what Twitter is all about.

I blame/credit much of this outlook on my mother. She was never one to praise her children. I would overhear her brag to her friends on the phone about my report card or a scholarship--but never to me. A report card with all A's would get a somewhat dismissive, "That's nice", and nothing more. No rewards, no ice cream treat, not even a big hug and "Congratulations". The good grades were just expected.

All that hard work does pay off…things are pretty good here. I have a great job, with flexible hours and the ability to do much of my work from home. We own our house. Our family is healthy. We have close friends. I live a pretty darn good life.

So, why am I not happy all the time?

I'm not UNhappy, at least. But all this constant striving and seeking to improve, means I never take time to APPRECIATE. And happiness has to start there.

When I am in a funk, it helps when I take time to count my blessings every day. I don't do this all the time, but when I do, it makes me remember to be grateful for what I do have. More focus on what is good in life, and less on what could still be improved.

My husband also reminds me to take time and appreciate. We are opposites in our life approach. He is more hedonistic, less driven than I am. "Good enough" is more his motto, where mine is "Always room to improve". While we have worked through a lot of the early marital conflict between my drive/ambition, and his more sedate acceptance of things as they are, I believe we have been good for each other. My nagging/motivating has helped him accomplish more than he might have on his own. And he always encourages me to take a break, sit down, enjoy what we have right now. Because it's true--it really IS "good enough".

How's that for a Love Thursday of my own?


  1. It seems to have trickled down from your mother to your brother as well. Thank god for my mom ro we'd NEVER do anything well. Until recently my dad hadn't found his voice for praise...especially in my hockey and school.

    It has given me motivation AND self doubt. Its no suprise he worked for New York State: Excelsior

  2. It started earlier than Mom. Her mother (your great grandmother--"GG") also never praised Mom. I don't know if Mom ever connected her behavior with her own childhood--she always hated to be told she was "just like Grandma"! She said Grandma heavily favored her younger brother, who could do no wrong.

    On the other hand, Mom always praised our needlework. Very Good! Keep trying! I think this is why I love all kinds of needlework. Tell your Dad that's his problem, he never learned to crochet!

  3. Could you imagine my father crocheting or quilting...I think it would cause a rift in the time space continuum.

    I heard stories of GG telling grandma that: "Its nice you got a 98, but where are the other 2%?"

    That has to be from being a ship capitan's wife. I hear stories about GG callingtaxi's to pick up shingles fro mthe hardware store so she can patch the roof.

  4. Nice post. Definitely nice to stop and breathe once in awhile and to appreciate what we have. As a fellow Virgo and 9 (Enneagram), I know what it is to always see the glass as half-empty. Silly prefectionist. I have to constantly tell my inner critic to "lay off", that I'm doing the best I can, and that's, as you say, "good enough"! And I know I'm not your mom, but I just wanted to say,"Great Blog! Keep up the good work!"

  5. You sound exactly like me -- I've been having the same thoughts lately myself. It helps to write about it, doesn't it?

    Thanks for sharing!


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