The often elusive, but always sought after concept:  Happiness.

Websters says that Happiness is defined as aa state of well-being and contentmentjoy. b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience.

That seems so incredibly oversimplified.  Is that even a good definition?  Yes, my boys love semantics, but let’s face it – so do I.  So….

I don’t think of ‘happiness’ as a state of ‘contentment’.  I might actually argue that happiness and contentment are at odds with each other.  Where happiness says ‘this is awesome’ contentment says ‘this will do’.  Then there is ‘joy’, which seems to be better suited to ‘elation’ than ‘happiness’, and ‘pleasurable’ seems to imply something physical, not emotional. 

So I am struggling with the idea of happiness these days. 

Oh, did I give you the wrong idea?  It isn’t a lack of happiness that has me questioning the concept, and delving into this random existentialist conversation about an intangible ideal, it is the opposite:  I’m happy.  Gabe is happy.  Nick is happy.  Matt is happy.

And somehow that’s kind of confusing.

When I think about happiness it conjures thoughts of my sons, my life, my marriage, and of course, the future.  Because when anyone asks you what you want for your kids, the answer is ‘happiness’.  When my husband and I agreed to be divorced, it was, essentially, because we weren't ‘happy’. 

How can so many things be so precariously balanced on a single abstract concept?

I’ve always thought about my sons' happiness.  Ok, maybe not in a present tense, but definitely in a future tense – I want them to have whatever it is out of life that makes them happy.  Truly, completely, happy.

But I never spent any time thinking about my own future.  My own happiness.  Was I living what I wanted for their lives?  Would they watch my example of how to live a 'happy' life, and be able to emulate it?  Simply: No.  But that changed when I separated.  I was forced to confront those ideals, and build around my own happiness.

As hard as it is to believe, through the turmoil that divorce brings, I have found happiness.  A strange concept, as the emotional rollercoaster I am on is dragging me through ups and downs faster than the Lego Technic Coaster at Legoland – and trust me – I just rode that in July, so I know what I’m talking about here.

But I have found a peace inside myself that I have not had in years.  Maybe a decade even.

Which makes me wish happiness on everyone. (Yes, even my soon-to-be-ex-husband.)

Now you want to know what I think happiness is, right?  How can we define this thing we all reach for?

Here’s what I think.  I think that happiness is an internal feeling, of not simple contentment or joy, but an overall understanding that you are doing what you were intended to do, that you are whole with yourself, both inside and out, and that you don’t have to know where you are going to know that it is the right direction for you.  And if you're lucky, maybe even a partner in crime to enjoy the journey with.

That’s my happiness.

And, watching all three boys start to settle into school, including Matthew going to school without crying, Gabriel jumping up and down with excitement to board the short bus each morning (plus making a friend!), and Nick finally being in a classroom that challenges his intellect, and listening to him tell stories of playground football games, well, those things don’t hurt either. 

The boys and I are happy. 

When was the last time you thought about your own happiness?


Martianne said...

So wonderful to hear you and the boys are happy and interesting to read your definition of happiness. My definition has changed many times over the years, but it similar to yours now. It goes somewhere along the lines that I am neither running away from nor running to anything, but that I am some combo of content with/joyful about, at peace about or, at the very least feeling I belong exactly where I am. I am in the midst of living my call and my daily choices are not at odds with that call.

Today, I am happy and my entire family seems to be. A good and blessed thing!

Patty O. said...

Hartley, this is fantastic. I am so glad you feel peaceful and happy and content!

And I agree with you. Knowing you are pursuing the direction that is meant for you is so key to happiness. As cheesy or weird as this may sound, that is exactly how I have been feeling about our Lego Club. I just know this is exactly where I should be putting my efforts right now. And i know it is helping my son (and some other really cool kids too). Though it is tough and time consuming and sometimes even frustrating, it makes me happy.

Crafty Mom said...

Can I just tell you I have spent the last 2 hours reading your blog? I have a sensory seeking 5 yr old girl and I'm just delving into the world of SPD and parenting a child with SPD. Your blog has given me such great understanding and validation. Thank YOU!!!I have SO many questions and we're awaiting a referral for OT and hoping that will give us some answers and guidance. Thank you for sharing your journey. :)