You Can’t Choose To Be Happy …

… so please stop trying.  Wait … wait … don’t start throwing stones at me just yet, hear me out.

This isn’t the post I intended on writing today, but you know what they say about intentions (only my road to hell is paved with glitter and firefighter smells and empty wine boxes).  I had planned on spending this week catching you up on the the reasons I am so exhausted in every single way possible …. and then I read this


… yet another article or interview where a celebrity tells us all that happiness is a choice and how if we just choose to be happy then the magical unicorns will declare it to be so and the sun will shine upon us all damn day long.  Oh if only it were that easy.  Here’s the thing …. I used to actually believe crap like that.  That if somebody just willed it hard enough then happiness would just come to them.  That when the bills are overdue and the kids are in trouble at school and the marriage is on the rocks … then I could just magically choose to be happy and ta-da !! Happiness for everyone !!  Nothing against the actress or any other celebrity who honestly believes that they are choosing happiness, I feel like I could say things like that too if I had a chef and a driver and a nanny and a maid and could take vacations whenever I wanted to.  I don’t begrudge them their money and the “happiness” it does bring them, but I don’t think that it’s that easy for the common folk.

I just think that it sets us all up for failure when people say things about happiness being a choice, because then people start to wonder why they can’t just choose it and what’s wrong with them that they can’t just make themselves happy.  It’s taken me soooooooooooo many years to figure out that I can’t choose to be happy, because happiness is a fleeting emotion that comes and goes.  However, I CAN choose to be content.

Right after Derek and I got married, my mother asked him if he thought his mother was happy and I will remember his answer for the rest of my life.  He looked my mother right in the eyes and said, “I think she’s content.”  My mother thought that was an awful answer.  She just couldn’t understand how sitting out in the yard of their small house just talking every night could possibly make anybody content.  See my in-laws lived a very simple life.  My mother-in-law made her own clothes and cooked every meal from scratch.  They didn’t have much, but what they did have they were proud of and they worked hard to have it.  They didn’t have to have the best, they were just content with what they had.  I’m not saying they just sat back and gave up, they didn’t, but they also didn’t worry about what anybody else had or that somebody else was living a better life than they were.  It never even crossed their minds to be jealous of someboy else’s money or belongings.  They were content.  (Derek’s mother passed away from colon cancer about 15 years ago, but Derek’s father is still one of the most content people I know.)

I chased happiness the nine years that I was on Paxil (and Ambien and vodka), never finding it, but always always always looking for that one thing or person or trip or debt that would make me happy.  It never came.  I was so numb and craving feeling any emotion that I flitted from one thing to another, accumulating piles of worthless junk, tons and tons of debt and a slew of broken relationships. 

I am content, because I choose to be.  Things are not perfect, but they aren’t supposed to be.  In a perfect world, I wouldn’t be working and fighting and clawing my way towards change … and to be honest, I would be really freaking bored.  We are humans, we are meant to feel emotions and happiness is one that can’t and won’t be felt every second of every single day.  It comes in little bursts …. just like sadness … just like anger …. just like jealousy.

I choose to be content, because that’s something that I can control.  Content that I have a nice bed to sleep in.  Content that my children are healthy.  Content that I have a job.  Content that I have food.  Content that I have a man who loves me and loved me enough to stand by me through some pretty awful stuff.  Content because I know that I’m only human and my journey is far from over …. and that happiness will come … sometimes when I least expect it. 

So please please please ignore those uber rich celebrities who believe that happiness is a choice, because it isn’t.  Strive to be content and the happiness will come.  I promise.

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