Skip to main content

Planning for Happiness

I spend more time than most, it seems, worrying about the amount of suffering I feel.  Somehow, I have this idea that if I'm not happy, then I'm failing at life.    Maybe it's because of adages like...

"Life is what you make of it"
"You can choose to be happy no matter what."
"Happy mind, Happy life"
"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react"

I seriously obsess about the fact that I'm just not trying hard enough to have a good attitude because people who are perpetually unhappy are choosing that.  Apparently.  It bugs me to think that I am choosing this hard life.  It bugs me to think that other people think this about me and I know that they do...I see the little smears of pity on the corners of their lips, as they pretentiously say, "When is life ever going good for you?"

Well, how embarrassing that God sees fit to keep my heels pressed to the refiners fire.  Shame on me for not being overjoyed with the revolving door of trouble...but then again...maybe if I had a better attitude, it is really a revolving door of happiness!

 Then, it doesn't help that we open Instagram or Facebook and see these perfectly, perfect images of people winning at life.  The room that is pulled together in a flawless state.  The love birds, the hunny this and girl of my dreams that. Amazing trips to incredible places.  There are challenges galore that dare us to be happy for 30 days...or worse...100 days.  They call them projects!  Projects?  To be happy?  Is that what happiness has to be...a project?

We rarely post about our mediocre lives.  Why is that?  We are all, nothing more than mediocre so why keep up the pretenses of perfection?  I'm going to start the Mediocre Project. I think maybe I will post pictures for 30 days of my unmade bed, how mediocre is that?  It's so mediocre its perfect!!

So, anyways, my point is...that crap we tell each other about happiness? Is nonsense.

Nothing that builds character, empathy, compassion, courage, peace and even joy, comes from moments of happiness.  Those deep traits of unchanging character comes from...
Suffering...the deep waters, the grit and grime of slogging through life, the trials, the refinement, the setbacks, the lousy decisions, the anger, the words we shouldn't have said, the loneliness, the struggle, the dead ends, the fears, the obsessions, the backtracking. the stumbling, the less than perfect...why would you want to miss all of this juicy suffering for a dip in the shallow end of


Happiness is not what life is about.  It's a rest stop.  A fleeting moment before you hit the trenches where the real experience and meaning of life is.

Surprise...if you are suffering in life, congratulations!  You are well on your way to a real, human experience that money can not buy.

So, how about these adages...

"Life is all about how you suffer! "
"You can choose to be happy, or you can stay in the arena and wrestle with the struggle."
"Happy life...shallow human being"

Seriously though...How do you like this quote from David Brooks...He is seriously my new obsession and joins the ranks with Brene Brown, Deepak Chopra, Byron Katie, Hafiz...

"Someone in internal struggle is building themselves."

How much better would life be if we really understood this and stopped judging each other's building or worse, tearing down what we work so hard to build?  Life is messy and hard and that's all there is to it.  The secret to suffering is that we suffer well.  How do you suffer well?  Make something out of the suffering.  Give it meaning.  Do something productive with it.  Connect with another suffering soul, witness their soul searching, soul building; blessings disguised as suffering.  As Ram Dass said, "We are all just walking each other home."  I love that thought.

Tonight, I shared a real, honest moment with a friend at work.  We dumped all of our suffering out on her desk...her husband's cancer, her ne're-do-well child, my kids, my jobs, the chronic everything...and stirred it all together, and sifted and shared and laughed and cried a little inside and witnessed each other and worked a little on her building of her soul and a little on mine and it was awesome!

We are all just mediocre doing the very best we can...what a holy place that can be if we let it.

Finally..."We plan for happiness- we are formed by suffering." David Brooks.   It's a liberating thought...there is absolutely nothing wrong with a little struggle.  I feel so much better!! How about you?



  1. Very well said. Just so you know I don't pity you, I see someone who has a lot of character, faith and courage who keeps her head up through all her struggles.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Obscure Sorrows

I sat on the bench like I usually do on Saturday mornings, the organ music was slow and quiet.  I think that's why I like playing there; its just slow and quiet.  I set the pace.  I mostly keep my eye on the music for fear of messing up but I did notice a couple walk in.  I had known them a few years ago, not well, but enough.  Enough to notice each other and say Hi.  I had heard recently that she had breast cancer.  She's likely a good 10 years younger than me.  Her red wig was striking, her eyebrows carefully in place and by all accounts, she made cancer look good.  
I had the strangest feeling I've never had before.  She has no idea, that somehow, I know all about her recent strife with cancer.  I have heard how it struck, how she deals; I know more than a distant acquaintance like me should know.   She is living this complicated, unfair, story that went off in a way she scarcely expected.  For a moment, I felt like I was an extra in her 3rd act; the struggle.  And, I wo…

A Witness

I was expecting just another run of the mill night at the gym last night.  The kind where the 'meat heads' stay at their end of the gym grunting and groaning to sound strong and I would claim a little corner in the room where the Yogi's hang out and Plank, and there I would Spin on a bike for a few miles, do some rowing, a little TRX and finish up with some free weights.

Last night though, I actually decided to do an easier workout and took an inclined walk on the treadmill.  There were no meat heads in far end of the gym.  No one really at the gym at all.  For the longest time, I kept pace with an old guy on a bike behind me.

But then, a man and his son came in.  I knew them.  I knew them well but they don't know just how well I know them.  They have a son who passed away from Cystic Fibrosis a little while ago, he would have been Spencer's age now.  They have a younger son who also has CF.  I knew his wife and mother in law back when my kids were being diagnosed.…


It has been an emotional weekend!  Holy Smokes.  I need a vacation from being sensitive.

It's been months since I have been able to find my homeless friend May.

Monday, I had this overwhelming feeling that she was in trouble and it dawned on me that I should call the apartment where she was last known to be.  They didn't answer.  They didn't answer my call all week!  Finally, yesterday (Friday) they called me back.  I was afraid that they wouldn't give me any information about May since I wasn't family so I lied!  I told them she was my great Aunt.  The manager hummed and hawed and finally gave the phone to a man who wondered what I wanted with her.  After some convincing, he told me that she had been arrested and taken to the State Mental Hospital.

I was so sad!  I immediately called the State Hospital and asked if I could speak to her but of course, they can't tell me if she is there or not...and, I couldn't remember her first, legal name.  She has sever…