A Different Way of Framing the Problem

I have to learn to be happy.

This is not news to me. It is not news to anyone I know well, I think. It is a different way of framing the problem, though.

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For some people (I am guessing), happiness is a thing you experience regularly. Maybe it falls into your laps, triggered by something small; serendipitous meetings with old friends, sunshine on days it was supposed to rain. Maybe all it takes is a little reminder that life is good, some free time to enjoy the fruits of your labour, and a big smile creeps across your faces. Your cups runneth over.

If that paragraph sounds like it is tinted with a little jealousy, that’s because it is.

Happiness doesn’t come to me easily. There are days when I’m not even sure that I’m using the same definition of it as everyone else. I know that I don’t feel good about myself, or my situation, even though I have many of the good things happen to me that happen to others, and many more than that. But I’m pretty sure I don’t feel happy the same way other people do.

I have to learn to be happy. It’s going to take a lot of work. And that’s ok.

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Does that sound bizarre to people who are happy?

(Are you?)

What are your experiences of happiness like? Are they momentary respites from the shitstorm of life? Are they feelings of well-being? Of wholeness? Of hedonistic pleasure? Of rewarding accomplishment?

This is a part of my learning process. It’s a part of everyone’s learning process. Please chime in. You never know when something you say will click with someone, when they will have that “Eureka!” moment. You might have the power, in just a few words, to help someone else learn to be happy(er)!

Fuck being able to fly. That’s a superpower.

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I had a “Eureka!” moment today in the shower. I am going to stop blogging about being depressed. I am going to stop blogging about being anxious.

I am going to start blogging about learning to be happy. I am going to start blogging about learning to be calm.

It’s a different way of framing the problem.

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I’ve traveled a lot of places. I’ve taken the occasional photo, and I think I have a good eye for them, but I never really make a point of it. After my first few trips to Europe, people asked me why I didn’t take any photos. So I started taking more. It was one of those things people are supposed to do. And I’m people! So I did it.

There is beautiful art in photographs, sometimes. A picture that can tell a story, that can capture layers of emotion in a single moment and stir them in a viewer, is a beautiful and splendid and pretty thing. I tried to find ways to do that. 

But the awful truth of it is: photographs bore me.

A photograph can capture one scene, one action or one moment. It can have many facets and be profound and technically complex and a lot of admirable things.

But have you ever stopped to consider how truly and completely superior a human being is to a photograph?

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We are not static. We are not a state of being. We can’t be because we are constantly changing. We are always different than we have been before now. That is beautiful. That is incredible.

Depression is something that has happened to me. Learning to be happy is something I am doing. Anxiety is something I can’t control. Learning how to be calm is something I can.

It might be harder for me to learn these things than it will be for some people. It might be easier for me than it will be for others. It doesn’t really matter where I, or you, fall on the spectrum. It doesn’t even matter that our ceiling, the pinnacle of how good things can possibly get, might be lower than our neighbours’. 

We are not defined by the challenges we face in life. We are defined by how we face them. Whatever you are facing, whatever name it has and whatever pain it causes you, don’t ever let it make you feel helpless. You aren’t. You might have a hard path, and the learning curve might be steep. But those circumstances are not who you are.

We are not what happens to us. We are what we do to make our lives, and the lives we touch, better.

It’s a different way of framing the problem.

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