Good morning, everyone...I am sitting at a Starbucks (not the one where I sling lattes), taking a break from getting about sixteen-hundred bits of paper together. I need a break, or I can already tell I am going to start filing things in the wrong place. That said, something has been on my mind for about a week, and I wanted to share my thoughts on it. Seems silly, but I want to talk about happiness.
My stepmom called me last Thursday, and to tell you how rare this is unless it is a federal holiday of some sort, my first thought was, "Crap...now who died?" My stepmom is excellent at actively loving her family in the truest sense of love, but correspondence just is not her thing. Knowing this, I call her every two weeks or so, and we catch up on each other's gossip and any events that are worth noting.
So, after establishing that I was me and she was herself, she said, "Greg has asked me to marry him." I took a breath and started to freak out on her behalf, because that's what girls do, repeating "Omigod omigod omigod..." over and over again until both of us stopped giggling. We talked about how some people have expressed concern...or, at least that is how she interprets it...regarding her and Greg moving faster than they think is appropriate, or that she isn't thinking things through, or being irrational, or whatever.
"But you know what? I'm happy." Meg's words should slap every naysayer in the face.
She started dating him around Thanksgiving last year. He moved into her house shortly after that, and they talk on the phone often when not next to each other, and they tell each other everything. In fact, they have been like that pretty much since they met. I saw them in August, and they sat on the same side of the table at a restaurant, ordering one meal and splitting it down the middle. They did that the next morning as well.
So I ask you...the next time someone says anything along the lines of "Are you sure this is the right decision?" remind yourself of two things: they probably actually do mean well, and they do not determine your happiness. You do.
So, if someone feels the right to question you on something that makes you happy, then ask yourself if you are truly happy. My guess is that most people do not know the difference between forced and true happiness, until they have had an event or period in their life where they can look back and realize that their happiness was forced. Also, the ones who are asking may also have never felt true happiness. I am not saying their concern is unjustified; just know that true happiness is more rare than we give it credit. Look at anyone's facebook page for proof of this. How many times do we see someone smiling in a single photograph, but we know the history behind the smile plastered on his or her face? We are all guilty of it.
I am truly happy. I have work to do, decisions to make, and will always have the typical stressors in my life like never-ending bills, but I do know the difference between truly happy and manufacturing something I want people to see. Happiness is relatively easy, and when you have to work at it, you enjoy working at it. Happiness feels relieving, peaceful, and genuine. Forced happiness feels more like a balance sheet, where we take stock of our problems and our good qualities, and justify having 50.00001% good in our lives.
When I get questioned about me being happy, especially regarding my relationship, the questions are pretty typical: How can you be in love with someone almost twelve years younger than you? But...what about his kids...have you thought about that? Are you sure you want to get married after how the last marriage ended? Do you really think a year is long enough before you know if you want to be with him? Don't you think you should live together first? How do you know he is not after your money? You know that his ex-wife and mother are part of the package, right?
Because when you are truly happy, you know the difference. Of course there are always compromises, negotiations, details to work out. But another major component of happiness is the ability to communicate, and the two concepts (communication and happiness) are absolutely intrinsically related. There is an incredible amount of contentment that comes with knowing I can say anything at all to him, and there will be a discussion but no irrational yelling or accusing. We talk. A lot. About a lot of different sides of the same issue. And we figure out what is worth continuing and what is worth dropping as a two-person unit.
With regard to all of the questions above, my response in my head (and sometimes out of my mouth) is, "Why does it matter to you?" Otherwise, it is not really anyone's business. If I say I am happy, and I seem happy, and most importantly, if you can tell the difference in how I am when I'm happy and how I am when I'm not, then just wish the best and move on. And I will wish the best for you, whether or not I understand it.
Sometimes I fail at that. But I try. Because everyone...everyone...should find happiness, no matter what.