Too Much, Not Enough, Just Right
This world is crazy. This morning my son said, "I wish we were rich." I started to launch into starving, abandoned children from Haiti and then I stopped. He came to it himself when he said, "But you don't have to put me up for adoption 'cuz we have food." True dat, is what we like to say. But here is the constant crux of life-being more than content but happy with what you have. One of the latest reads in my book group was called "Stumbling On To Happiness" and it attempts to make scientific the idea of happiness and the main conclusion is that really, we all have some sort of set-point. Barring major catasrophies and even then, people seem to just re-calibrate themselves to the point at which they naturally are. They asked people who had become paralyzed or quadraplegic to rate their happiness, and especially if they knew no different, they weren't any less happy than people with fully functioning bodies. How weird, right? So this makes that quest for...whatever...that longing or whining for something different just seem so...silly. And this makes me even more committed to just encouraging not just my kids, but everyone to do what makes them happy. Why would we spend our time doing anything but? Of course,there is that money thing and here is where our culture in particular gets it wrong in a big way. We need money to live, but how much? Really- how much do we need? Yeah, I can hear the groans from the peanut gallery since I am the spouse of a physician. But it's no secret that most of our doctors would be much happier and more effective if they worked less. If I rate my life between my twenties and now I will admit to being happier, but much of it comes from learning lessons in the school of hard knocks and finally having the courage to just listen to myself. I am paying attention and this is what makes me happy--hearing my kids laugh, listening to their reasonings about the ways of the world (recent advice from Ben: when you feel or see something coming toward your face, scrunch up your head skin), cookbooks, the book store in which I work, living in a community where I daily run in to people I know, reading, connecting with old friends, making new friends, planning a party, helping someone, listening to storytellers, preserving food with a group of friends, and walks in the sunshine either alone or with friends. Perhaps I am just a slow learner- how could I reach 41 and just start to realize that the best way to live is to seek and find those things which bring you joy? Some would say life gets in the way. But I am going to argue that perhaps we have it backwards- we are getting in the way of our life by denying ourselves the experiences that bring us the most joy. Who knows? I am not a philospopher, but I am feeling that what I have is just right.
Posted by Lisa Gray