Monday, April 23, 2012

Happy Hour

Why is “happy hour” only one hour long?  Is it because we humans are a fickle group with a short “happiness” lifespan?  While pondering these questions I examined a day in my own life.  I usually start my day packing my daughter’s lunch while I discuss all the things I have to accomplish throughout the day with my husband.  Does that make me happy?  Not really.  Kissing my husband goodbye makes me happy - lasts about three seconds.  My daughter won’t let me kiss her goodbye and that makes me sad for about three minutes until I make my coffee.
Making my coffee is completely frustrating because my stupid coffee maker keeps shutting off.  I have to stand in front of it, wait for the “on” light to go off and bang on the top of it until the “on” light comes back on.  This frustration lasts at least 5 - 10 minutes and it does not make me happy.  Drinking my coffee makes me happy until I discover all the ants floating on the top of my coffee because I use honey to sweeten the coffee and the ants were on the honey bottle!  I drink the damn coffee anyway because I don’t want to make more coffee in my terminally ill coffee maker.  Drinking ants makes me angry and erases my happiness in about two seconds.
Writing makes me happy.  I usually try to write while I’m drinking my coffee.  Sometimes I get to write for a whole hour without interruption, but that is a rare occurrence.  More often than not, the phone rings or someone appears at my door.  When that happens, I lose my train of thought and usually throw away whatever I was writing which makes me sad.  So, before I’ve even eaten breakfast I have experienced a myriad of emotions with “happiness” coming in last place.  
As the day wears on, I find myself behind the wheel of my car where my frustration and road rage emotions kick into high gear.  There are times when I find myself screaming and cursing at other drivers.  Now, as I look back on my behavior, I wonder why I do this?  Do the other drivers hear me?  Is it going to change their driving behavior?  Does all this yelling make me feel better?  Does it make me happy?  No.
I usually spend at least half of my day packing and shipping our sold ebay items while I watch the news.  Watching the news makes me crazy.  I scream at the TV over the idiocy of some politician or I cry over the daily tragedy (which seems to dominate the news).  
Cleaning the house and washing clothes does not make me happy.  Feeding my chickens makes me happy.  Cooking dinner makes me happy.  Eating dinner with my family makes me happy.  Doing the dishes after dinner does not.
There is something I’ve discovered as I’ve been writing this little snippet on happiness: I make choices every day that affect my happiness quotient.   For instance, I chose to view mundane tasks as mundane.  What if I looked at them as opportunities to reach inside and find the joy in the task.  Is there joy in laundry?  I wonder? 
I just tried an experiment; I put a load of clothes in the wash and, as I put my daughter’s tennis skirt in the machine, I pictured her on the court playing her first match.  That thought brought joy to my heart.  
Fast forward to wrapping and shipping ebay packages: I thought about Bill and I scouring flea markets and garage sales for items to sell and that brought joy to my heart.  
Driving is still a challenge for me, but, I bet if I think of the time when I had a stroke and could not drive for a while, then maybe I can find the joy in having the ability to drive again.
You see, joy is different than happiness isn’t it?  “Happy hour” does only last for an hour, or maybe less.  Joy, however, comes from deep inside of us.  It is always there if we choose to find it.  I believe that Joy comes from God and happiness is the devil’s tool.  We are always “seeking” happiness.  It’s even in our Declaration of Independence - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  
Some people pursue “happiness” in a bottle of rum, on an exotic beach or in a fat bank account.  They might find it for a short time, but it will go away.  Joy stays with us always.  It’s in our core, our soul.  
Today, I’ve made a pledge to myself that I will purposefully acknowledge the joy in all that I do. I know that if I do that, I will find peace that surpasses all understanding and I know that peace is manifest joy.  What will you do?