“If you were suddenly alone in the wilderness without distractions, how happy would you be?”
This was the question that my husband asked me this weekend. His impression was that I spend my life looking for something to make me happy instead of just being a happy person. How would I feel if I suddenly found myself with nothing? No children, no hobbies, NOTHING? Would I be a happy person?
Well, it’s actually a very good question. Does my happiness come from within or is it external sources that define happiness for me? My first thought was that no, I’m not a terribly happy person. There’s depression in my family. It must mean that my set point for happiness is in the lower end of the spectrum. I’ve certainly had my moments of feeling really quite blue. On further reflection, though, I would have to say that if I was left entirely alone in the wilderness then I would not be terribly unhappy. I’m not that unhappy of a person, I just let external issues sap me of my energy and take issues that I can’t change and make them a personal reflection of my “failures”. If my kids misbehave then it’s my fault and something I’ve done terribly wrong. I happen to have a child who takes a lot of energy and patience to parent. There’s not a thing wrong with her except she’s the total opposite of myself. She’s strong willed, independent, loud, artsy and creative. Me, not so much. I can’t change her, and really, why would I? Those skills will get her far in life. I shouldn’t let our differences effect our relationship and my views of myself. When I let go and let her be who she wants to be and let her magnificent tantrums be her own, and not mine, I’m generally a happy person.
That being said, I don’t think there is any thing wrong with doing things that make me happy. So what if I like knitting for a few months and then get on a gardening kick? It’s doesn’t mean that once I give up on knitting I’m suddenly unhappy and need to go look for a replacement. I like to try new things. I don’t expect to master anything. The enjoyment comes from learning new skills, so please don’t assume that I’m on quest to finally find that one thing that will make me happy. I am a generally happy person (even when I take things out of my control a little too personally).
I think for most people happiness is a reflection of both internal and external sources so to throw someone into the wilderness and say “so would you be happy” is a bit silly, however, I’m really glad that this question was asked of me because it got me thinking and able to see that I’m not just an unhappy person because I expect to be an unhappy person but that I tend to let the things I perceive as negative reflect on me while at the same time letting the positive around me reflect on others and never taking any credit for myself.
If I was left all alone I would take a very long nap and then probably wake up a relatively happy person. However, I wouldn’t trade the wild and wonderful distractions in my life for anything in the whole world!
And there you have my personal rambling for the month….*lol*