Why I Don’t Want To Be a Happy Person
“I’m generally a happy person!” I told my therapist last week. And it’s true. As hard as my life can be, I really, really like it. My job, my friends, my children, my home with its terrible green carpet and aztec-inspired border in the kitchen. All of it.
“I just want to be with someone else who is happy!” I continued, referring to a series of relationships over the last year with people who were depressed and broken and depressingly broken.
“No you don’t,” she replied. She paused, which let my mind race into all sorts of different directions, like maybe I’m not really happy or maybe there’s something I’m putting into the world that’s just drawing in sad people.
Just when she saw the look of horror start to take over my face, she kept going.
“You want someone who’s content with his life. Like you.”
And then I realized that I’ve been going about it all wrong. I’ve been going about everything all wrong really. And maybe you have too.
See, we’re all so focused on being happy. And making others happy. And ensuring that our kids grow up to be happy people because that’s what you want for them (and a good job and a house or apartment please, just in case the universe is listening) when really what we should be focused on is contentment.
Am I the only one who had the two things completely confused?
Happiness is amazing. It’s thrilling and wonderful and invigorating but it’s also fleeting. It’s an emotion that we experience related to specific events or moments or happenings in our life. A gift, a party, an award, a dinner, an orgasm or six (ahem).
You can put your finger exactly on what would make you happy, and you can also put your finger on what might make others happy too. Well, mostly.
But contentment is a state of being. Stasis.
A place where your existence that just feels right. Where your mind, body, and soul are satisfied.
And importantly, something you can’t give to or be for anyone else.
Yes, there will be many happy moments (I hope) and perhaps many sad moments (I hope not), and lots of other highs and lows and plateaus but overall you’ve found a good, secure spot in this world.
You’ll stumble, you’ll get up, you might even leap and jump and soar. It might not be pretty. It might be insanely beautiful.
But whatever happens, you’ll land on your feet.
And that’s where I am. Really, truly content, without a moment passing where I don’t feel grateful.
It’s what I want in a partner. It’s what I want for my children. It’s what I want for my ex with the hopes that it will translate into better caretaking of our children.
Happiness is amazing. And I’ll definitely take more of it in my life. But it’s fleeting. It evaporates.
Contentment might be hard to come by, but it’s much more satisfying in the end.Published October 30, 2014. Last updated October 30, 2014.