Monday, 13 August 2012

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

We have this original sketch hanging on our wall of a scene from School House Rock. It’s from the American Rock series from the song Fireworks and features a Colonial man in powdered wig and knee breeches playing kiss chase with a woman in an apron and mob cap (who looks remarkably like me) --this was naming the 3 things the constitution guaranteed--Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. This picture is the Pursuit of Happiness bit. I like it because to me falling in love and having fun are things I rank highly on my happiness quotient.

 I am basically a happy person. There have been several times in my life where I have been under a dark cloud of depression and deeply unhappy with life, but with love and sometimes medication, I bounce back. Lately,  I have been thinking a lot about what makes me happy, what makes other people happy. I admit I was unhappy last year at work. My schedule was too frantic, I had some conflicts with the people that I worked with. But I worked to change that. This upcoming school year I have a much better schedule and I am really looking forward to working with my assigned teachers. My role as a teaching assistant is changing and instead of feeling a loss for the parts of my job that I really enjoyed that are falling away, I am trying to feel excited about the new and different parts, which will bring me satisfaction. I think schools as a whole are negative environments these days. I don’t know any one, who teaches anywhere, who doesn’t tell me about moaning and complaining and sniping in the staff room. Sometimes at work there feels as if there is no air as the oxygen seems to be sucked from the staff room like in a vacuum by people who seem to complain all the time. Last year, because I was feeling unhappy with my work, I joined in with the carping. Did joining in and being part of the cool kids make me feel better? Hells no. It made me feel worse. I realized that this is something that has happened to me over and over in my life--I stop being my authentic self and act like others and it doesn’t work. It is easier to join in and gossip and grouse then be left out. Or worse, say what I really want to say and get laughed at. But why would I want to join in with a bunch of Moaning Myrtles ?  So I decided that this next school year to work harder at Being myself. Even if that means spending my breaks listening to music on my iPod so I don't get drawn into the negativity of the staff room --keeping away from negative people helps me to be more myself and be happier.

I am reading a fascinating book that I waited for 3 months to get from the inner library loan at our local public library--there was a waiting list a mile long so it must be good, right?--called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Side note: I have always liked the name Gretchen because it sounds vaguely like kitchen. Unless you are really close to me, I probably have not expressed glee over a word and done my little happy dance when I say it. This is one of those idiosyncrasies I have tried all my life to hide from the general public, but have given up hiding in the goal of being myself. I was always embarrassed that a word could make me happy. Why be ashamed of that? That’s me. Words make me happy.

 In her book she traces a year long journey to decide what are the commandments that work for her to be happy. Her first one is Be Gretchen.  I like that it was her first idea too. But what does Be myself mean?

 These are just some of the things I do/have done that make me happy and are about me being me. I'm sure I will think of more later, but these instantly sprang to mind.

 Move to another country and have an adventure

Dress in an old fashioned way so I stop obsessing about my looks and start being more beautiful from the inside.

Live simply.

Live cheaply

Spend money on experiences and artwork not useless tat

Live without a telly

Live without a mobile phone

Don’t do Facebook or any other nonsense

Laugh and play every day --especially with Spiderman

Believe in God openly

Try to live so that animals, people and the environment are not exploited for my personal gain

Be a vegan

Enjoy cooking delicious, cruelty free food

Write because I need to get all the thoughts buzzing out of my head

Read every day

Read lots of children’s books

Play the ukulele  

Make stuff with my hands


Be organised (more on this one later) preferably in pretty containers with labels

Journal--every day 3 events that happened in the form of a haiku

Record  my spiritual journey by writing out significant texts and quotations by hand

Get tattoos for significant events in my life so I read my body like a map

Dance around and flap my hands like some sort of demented fruit bat when I am happy

 One of the ones that I have tempered, but am no longer going to do so (even when the people at work laugh at me and tell me to get a life)

. Express enthusiasm.

I am very passionate about things I love. I can be very intense about telling you something I found interesting. Many people look as though I am mental when I do that. At work, people have openly laughed when I said something about something I loved.  So I stopped.  But why should I stop? Because their lives are filled with binge drinking weekends and re-runs of Big Brother and I’m off in London going to a museum exhibit on dirt or a play about a woman artist imprisoned because her work depicts war, not as glorious but as horribly real--why is my weekend somehow stupider than theirs? Once in 1990, we were at this science experiment thing and this experiment was so amazing that the instructor said (in the sort of voice like he pitied Spiderman for being my keeper) “Gosh, you’re more enthusiastic that the kids I do this for.” He looked at me as if there was something *wrong* with being happy.

I will not hide my light under a bushel any longer. If I feel happy then I will express that happiness openly. Who cares if people laugh. I can laugh too, because I am happy.

I am sure more will come up to write about as I read more in the book.

I am a grudge holder (my granny once stole my play dough when I was 3 years old--I still remember the feeling as she decided to keep the blue kangaroo she made) and I tend to relive every bad thing as if it were happening again. These traits I would like to lessen to let other parts of me that are better shine forth.

Still working on that… 


  1. I love you with all my heart and continuously am in awe of the woman you've become. I get so proud sometimes I get the shivers. You and Thomas are so perfect for each other, true soul mates, and it also makes my eyes shine every time I think about that truth too.

  2. I love love love this post! You are so darn good at being YOU!!!