Thursday, July 19, 2012

Catching happiness

“The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”
--Benjamin Franklin

I just watched a documentary called Happy that was given to me by my Pilates instructor, and while the movie didn't really introduce anything new to me, it was still interesting. My Pilates instructor and I discuss happiness a lot. We're both trying to figure it out. And for the record, both of us are actually happy people. We're trying to figure out who we are, we're trying to eliminate bad habits and cultivate good ones, and we're trying to figure out how to fit in everything we'd like to do and find important to do with going to work. Both of us like our jobs, but they take up so much time that everything else has to be crammed in.

One phrase that the movie introduced to me was the hedonistic treadmill, which is basically that cycle we're all on where we want something new, and when we get it, we lose interest in it and then we want something else new. I don't consider my friends or myself to be particularly materialistic or egocentric, but I know we all do this. I recently attended a rehearsal dinner and wedding where everyone had separate outfits for each event. This isn't particularly unusual, but when you think about it, I have two distinct outfits for special events that don't get worn on a regular basis, don't qualify for work attire, and that require special accessories to be complete. I mean, really what have I got to complain about?

The movie talks about extrinsic happiness and intrinsic happiness. Extrinsic happiness is like what I talked about above--it's based on money, self-image, and status. The movie doesn't say this is bad, it just says that this is at odds with intrinsic happiness, which is based on friends and family, feeling good, and feeling a connections with the world. Just like yin and yang, you probably need both, but I'm having a very hard time figuring out how to balance the two.

I had something else I wanted to talk about here and I was going to jot it down before I lost it and then I lost it before I could jot it down so there you are. You may or may not get to learn about it at some point in the future, if I can remember whatever it was.

Ah yes, on a maybe-only-related-in-my-mind sort of way, I've read that kids can really only handle three things. The article was in reference to after school activities and basically said that you have to count school as one thing. So you can sign your kid up for soccer and scouts, but if you try to add in piano, that's where the meltdown will occur.

I have a theory that the same is basically true for adults. I can go to work, exercise, and read, but when I add in taking a class, for example, everything else suffers a little. Obviously this sort of counting eliminates things that have to get done--laundry is not a thing. Grocery shopping is not a thing. You're an adult. You do laundry, and grocery shop, and pay the bills, and a million other things that can't be a thing.

I wish I was good at clip art or something, because I really think a picture would help me explain this. So back to my Pilates instructor and me. Both of us are struggling to lose some weight. Neither of us are fat. We're just not fitting into our respective pants, and we're not happy about it. My Pilates instructor concedes that she can't claim ignorance. She knows she eats a little too much. But, as she points out, it's no fun to go out with your friends and watch them eat burgers while you have to have your grapes or whatever. And she doesn't want to sacrifice her social life.

Figuring out how to be thin is in the extrinsic camp, while having a good social life is in the intrinsic camp. What's a girl to do? The thing is, neither of us feel like we look as healthy and fit as we actually are, which is just frustrating. And what's doubly frustrating is that we both are making healthy changes but are no closer to closing the top button on our pants. Ugh!

So yesterday, I went to the gym for about 3 hours. (This is a luxury for me--I don't normally get to go to the gym for 3 hours.) However, that means that I was more tired AND got less work done, so there's that. I know I need to get more sleep in general, but I can't figure out how to do that without doing less of something else.

I feel like I've talked about how I'm training to run a marathon about a million times already, and you all know I love to read. Typically, I actually enjoy working. Okay, the getting up and getting dressed thing maybe can be annoying sometimes, but in general, I like working. Except lately. I'm just not that into it. I just saw a quote (probably on Facebook) that caught my eye. It basically said, we can't wait to do something until we're inspired to do it because very few people are truly inspired and they're already really busy.

The obvious follow up, is so quit complaining and just go and do it. However, while I wouldn't normally say I'm inspired to work--my job is not particularly inspirational, I'm also generally not uninspired to work. And that's a big difference to me. So it has me thinking about where I am in my life and what I want to be and where I'm going and where I'd like to be and what I have to do to get there. As I'm sure you realize, all of this thinking has gotten me exactly zero answers. What I'd like to do is to take six months or so and just sort of figure things out, and then come back and have all of the options I currently have now still available, if I want to pursue them.

But the reality is that we've all got to figure things out while we're doing a bunch of other things. So I have no advise to offer other than good luck!

No comments:

Post a Comment