In my previous post, I explained that I am very content with my life these days, a feeling I haven’t had for a while.
But I don’t want to come off as bragging. The fact that I am happy with my current life situation does not mean that I am happy, hopeful, content, and care-free 24/7. There are absolutely moments in a day or week when I am losing it, or questioning what I’m doing, thinking maybe I can’t. Being a stay at home mom is hard. I rarely get to pee alone. Some days I don’t eat lunch beyond scamming cheerios from my kid’s bowl. It’s not exactly a cushy gig, even if I don’t get out of my pajamas (and I assure you, when that happens, it’s not by choice).
Is anyone ever completely happy and content, all of the time? I’m pretty sure most people would say no, that’s an unrealistic expectation. But there is so much self-help out there, so much commentary on happiness, so many tools available and possible avenues to finding contentment. These things seem to imply that happiness is a goal, a result. So isn’t it confusing to simultaneously expect that result, while knowing that the result can’t be constant. How do we measure success when the goal is so slippery?
The ultimate goal of Buddhism is Nirvana, which may look something like constant happiness. But that sort of happiness is only achieved when you have relinquished attachment–to your body, to the physical world, to your experiences, the ones that feel distinct–recognizing that this feeling of distinctness is illusory.
Apparently. Sometimes I can somewhat grasp what that means, but I don’t know that I can fully appreciate how that works. I can’t claim that I’ve ever reached Nirvana. But I think you can still apply that concept in a more practical way, while we feel still very much connected to the responsibility of our life on Earth. You relinquish attachment to those every day trials–and successes–recognizing that happiness is much bigger than what happens from moment to moment.
This is why instant gratification doesn’t provide lasting satisfaction, and thinking that you have to be always happy will likely disappoint you. A happiness assessment requires a wider lens–a look at where you’ve come from and where you want to be going, and whether you see your current life fitting onto that track somehow. Happiness and well-being require investments–defining and working towards goals, cultivating patience, being willing to work hard and not settle for anything less than amazing while recognizing the limits of what’s possible.
What do you think about happiness? How do you separate the day to day feelings from your overall outlook?