I paused as I walked back to my seat. It was the middle of the afternoon and pale winter sunlight was streaming in. Something about the quality of the light made me stop and really look around. And then it hit me. Holy shit. Holy shit. I kind of love my home. Not the stuff I’ve accumulated and placed around the rooms. Though the fresh tulips on the dining table make me smile every time I look at them. But the space I’ve created for myself. The life I live here.
And I started to feel… I don’t know. A sense of pride. In a way I haven’t felt in a long time. Maybe ever.
Not because my life is perfect, or because I’ve made my apartment look nice (believe me, I have a long way to go on both paths). But because I’ve been working hard to get to a place. And well… I guess I feel like whatever that place is. I’m here. It’s the actualization of what I dreamed of as a child. My own little happy slice of Manhattan.
Later in the day I got a call from an old friend. Someone I adore but don’t get to see often because he moved far, far away. We were talking about success. He is, by any external measure, extremely successful. Married for a long time, great job, huge house, no real debt, a great guy. Successful.
He said something interesting. Something I’ve heard him say before. When he was growing up, his only life goal was to be able to go shopping when things weren’t on sale. To just buy what he wanted at the local department store without worrying about the price. Nothing fancy. Nothing luxurious. He didn’t think of traveling the world or buying fancy cars. He just wanted to go pick out some decent clothes without waiting for them to be on sale.
And now he has that. Has has that for a long time and so much more. All the things that other people tell him equal success. But that’s not the stuff that makes a person happy. Not the material things.
I have my own little happy slice of Manhattan. Exactly what I dreamed of my whole life. He can buy whatever he wants whenever he wants. These are not the things that make us happy. Neither are our families, romantic relationships, or friends. We’re happy or not because we decide to be happy with our bounty. With the amazing gifts that we have.
I could choose to be miserable that I still don’t have enough money to completely gut and redecorate my bathroom (I REALLY want to redo my bathroom). Or that my new meds are making me fat. Or that it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow and for some reason there are single people who seem to feel oppressed by this completely arbitrary, made-up holiday. Or I can be happy because I have so much. My choice. My friend can choose to be miserable because he had to relocate for his amazing job (taking him thousands of miles away from friends and family) or he can be happy for the amazing opportunities he has.
Simplistic and unoriginal, perhaps. But nonetheless true. I’m as happy as I choose to be. And so are you, probably. Unless you were just hit by a car. Or diagnosed with a horrible disease. Or suffered some tragic loss. Most of us are exactly as happy as we allow ourselves to be. I think.
So you can be miserable, now. If you want. Not me. I’m gonna rock out to some old school Smiths, sniff my tulips and have another cup of coffee Life is good.
Tags: happiness, Happy, married, single, success