In case you missed it, I wrote an extra post yesterday to get me back on schedule with Momalom’s Five for Ten week. Every now and then I like to post on days other than MWF just to keep you on your toes. Or because I forgot my homework assignment and had to turn it in late. Take your pick.
Lately my attention span in church is comparable to that of an 18-month-old. This is probably because I spend about half of each service entertaining an 18-month-old. This past Sunday in between Cheerios, sippy cups, and Dr. Seuss books I managed to catch a few bits and pieces of the actual sermon. Victory!
Our priest spoke about peace. He spoke about how Christ’s peace differs so completely from the way we refer to peace today. He explained that to Jesus, peace was something comprehensive. We, on the other hand tend to think of peace as something momentary and fleeting. Peace is what we have when all the housework is done, or after the kids have gone to bed, or after the holidays are over. Peace, for us, is highly circumstantial. Peace, for Jesus, was all-encompassing, despite His external circumstances.
I bring this up not to get all up in your face about Christianity. (I absolutely do not care what your faith life looks like. That’s your business. In fact I hardly ever talk about my faith, but I figure since this is Five for Ten week, maybe you’re still with me…) I bring this up because I’m curious about how the same theory would apply to happiness.
When we say that we’re happy, what does it mean? Does it mean something different when spoken from the lounge chair of a beach vacation than it does when spoken from the sofa of your cluttered living room at the end of a chaotic weekend? If I take a bite of the most delicious thing ever and say, “I’m so happy,” does that cheapen the sentiment? Should the bar for happiness be set higher? Should it be reserved for statements that reflect a life that is harmoniously balanced?
I didn’t have to think about it very long to decide that this theory (which I’m still struggling with as it relates to peace – I disagree with our priest a lot…) makes a mockery of the very essence of happiness. Happiness is entitled to be fleeting. Happiness can be momentary and temporary and finite. And quite frankly, maybe it should be.
For starters, my life will never be harmoniously balanced – partly because that’s unrealistic, and partly because it would be fantastically boring. My life is busy. I have a husband to love, a son to raise, a career to manage, friends to see, hobbies to do, books to read, recipes to try, trips to take, and Bravo’s West Wing marathons to watch. If I’m shooting for harmonious balance some of those things will almost certainly get chucked. And that would make me decidedly unhappy.
Its ability to sneak into small moments is what makes happiness so powerful. It can be small. It is changeable. It can find you wherever you are. It doesn’t need to be big or sweeping. It doesn’t need for everything around it to fit inside its structure. It is wily and scrappy and creative. Like a droplet of water it can seep into a tiny crack and soften you when you most need it.
I am happy every time I kiss IEP. I am happy every time I make GAP laugh. I am happy every time I eat an oyster grinder at my favorite Cajun dive bar. I am happy when Albert Pujols hits a home run. I am happy when I get to sleep past 7:00. And I am happy when the Bradford Pear trees bloom every spring.
I am happy in bigger, broader, ways too. But isn’t it ultimately the accumulation of tiny happy moments that make a happy life? Balance and harmony are all well and good. But if all the little things in my life bring me happiness, if haphazardly, then that’s enough for me.
This post was written as part of Momalom’s Five for Ten week. For more great posts on Happiness check out all of the other links here.