Tuesday, December 6, 2016

It's Okay to be Happy

"I'm just so tired from the l'chayim," she sighed. "and this hall for the vort is so expensive. Finding dresses for it was such a hassle. The place we wanted for the wedding is all booked up; we have to use another one, which I don't like. . ." 

I felt like reminding her: Your daughter is engaged. Doesn't that qualify as a happy occasion? Does this come off as "happy" to you?

Humblebrag may apply here, but then I had second thoughts coming across an article in Glamour (don't judge me, the subscription was free with a Sephora purchase): "My Dirty Little Secret: For Once, Actually I'm Happy" by Abigail Libers. Her opening: 
"So how are you?!” a friend asked me at brunch recently. I hadn’t seen her in a while and thought for a moment. “Great!” I replied. “Things have been going really well for me.”
Even I was surprised by my response; it’s rare that I don’t have a complaint at the ready. Apparently my friend was taken aback too. “Really?” she asked. “That’s awesome. I’m happy for you.” And there was an awkward pause. In the silence I realized I had violated an un­­spoken code. The answer to “How are you?” is supposed to be “I’m so busy and stressed!” And indeed, when I asked what was new with her, she stuck to the script, rattling off complaints: annoyed with her mom, drowning at work.
Contemporary culture perversely equates "importance" with being stressed and busy. Takka, humblebrag is the usual response to "How are you?" (another reason why I don't ask). Yet the state of happiness can also tag along ubiquitous guilt for the ride, as Libers experienced. 

Not only is there guilt that I have joy while she does not, there is also fear: Happiness is usually so elusive that when it comes, there is anxiety that it was a mirage, it will be taken away, it is too good to be true. You know what? This is what I have decided: So what? 

Happiness doesn't last, this we know. Then just enjoy it while you got it. I heard this idea from Charlie Harary—and he was quoting someone else—that we should live life like kids at suppertime. They negotiate with Ma for how much chicken and vegetables they have to consume before they get dessert. When they get the dessert, they revel in it. Tomorrow will be another tedious healthy meal, but tonight, let's live it up. 
Got happy? Don't overthink it. Wallow in it, inhale it, savor it. It doesn't have to be rubbed in anyone else's face, mind, but park the guilt and worry at the door.     

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