Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pursuit of Happiness

You may be wondering what became of my happiness project. It's still going on. And I am not alone. The New York Times has a whole column about it called Happy Days: The Pursuit of What Matters in Troubled Times. The description says:

The severe economic downturn has forced many people to reassess their values and the ways they act on them in their daily lives. For some, the pursuit of happiness, sanity, or even survival, has been transformed. Happy Days is a discussion about the search for contentment in its many forms — economic, emotional, physical, spiritual — and the stories of those striving to come to terms with the lives they lead.

The topics of the column have ranged from near death experiences to spiritual retreats to the nature of sin among many others. I read it regularly and usually enjoy the essays though I don't always agree.

I have been having some troubles at work. One person's behavior has caused me and others to feel demoralized and increasingly stressed. I am not one of those people who can easily leave work behind; it follows me home, lurking in the back of my mind like some virtual bogeyman, ready to leap out and cause renewed irritation just when I begin to relax. I imagine conversations and plan speeches in my mind. What would John Adams say?
(He did say: “Be not intimidated… nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice.”)
Perhaps just a wee bit much for a troublesome work situation. I have also found myself wishing that a particular event - poorly planned at the last minute - would tank and thereby teach the troublesome person a lesson. Disturbing and a sure sign that something must be done. The obvious thing is to find a different job but going about it willy nilly will not get me anywhere. That has been my modus operandi in the past - run away, not toward - and it just leads to the same situation in a different setting. I'm like the stereotypical battered woman who moves from one abusive man to another. So what can be done?
I intend to make an effort to bring back those little things that I have let slide. Like this blog for instance. And knitting. I don't know about you but I find it is easier to do something if I do it every day rather than once in a week. It becomes part of the structure of the day, a habit. So I will do some writing and some knitting - even if it is only a couple of sentences, a couple of rows - every day. And I will go out and sit in the park more often and cook interesting things for myself and maybe take a class here or there. I have allowed my jobs to take over my life and I have to take it back if I am to have any hope of transcending the cycle I have created for myself. Apathy is an easy habit to fall into and like all habits it is hard to break. Vigilance and faith will be required.

This brings me to Commandment 6. Live in the present. This is another toughy. I was thinking of getting a sign made. Attention: This is your life. It is happening now. Right now, this very moment. Be here. Or maybe I should get it tattooed so I can carry it with me wherever I go as a reminder to myself. Maybe I can even turn it into a habit.