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.


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