Relative Happiness

Yes, of course, happiness, like beauty, is all about the eye of the beholder and perception is objective, and blah blah blah. Tailor your expectations accordingly and the world is your oyster, or possibly  some other less slimy delicacy.

Not going to be blowing the lid off of that one today. Instead we are going to take a minute to discuss the happiness of your relatives. More importantly, how fickle and unimportant it is. Maybe don’t read this aloud at Thanksgiving.

Some of us have always been the type to try and make everyone around them happy. Some of us have been the type to make themselves happy and wait for everyone else to fall in line. With any luck both of these people grow up to realize that the people around you matter and should be treated with consideration, but no more or less than yourself. And now humanity is universally self-actualized. Or not.

 

Assuming a slim majority of us claw our way somewhere into the median spectrum, our work is not yet done. Even when we’ve determined how things should go the people closest to us always seem to present an exception. They aren’t ‘just anyone’. They deserve more time. Or you deserve more of theirs. Or they will forgive you because they have to. (This is not universally bad, and when your mother asks you for help, you do it.) When this throws the happiness scale out of balance its a problem, and its no way to treat people you care about.

Despite how tempting it can be to indulge our desires to control the feelings of loved ones we cannot take responsibility of anyone else’s happiness. That’s their job. We can try not to hurt them. We can empathize when someone else does. But sacrificing your own for theirs is only for married people. And sometimes your children (though their teachers would appreciate it if you told them no sometimes, just for the fun of it).

The pleasant shiny person you’re going to be when your happiness matters as much as everyone else’s will make them happier anyway. Maybe not right away. They’ll have got used to you being their emotional on call chef. But eventually, if they care about you too and see you truly happy, they will be happy too. And then you can skip and frolic and stuff.

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New Year

While it is refreshing and noble to make grand declarations of all that we will do and change with ourselves in the coming year, I present a new kind of resolution: Give yourself a break.

bath

I have no idea how all of the people I have heard about giving up alcohol for the month of January plan to pay their credit card bill from the holidays without a cocktail in their hand. Perhaps you have had time off or been spending time with your family (whether that’s a pleasant experience for you or not). Does this really seem like the ideal time to give up carbs cold turkey? Because you are going to be miserable if all you are eating is cold turkey.

This is not to say that goals are not a good thing, because they are. And goals should certainly be in the spirit of self-improvement, but they should also manifest with a nod to humanity. Moderation and exceptions for reality are everything. Of course we should all be working out more regularly, but you’re going to need to use your legs tomorrow and thirty minutes on the elliptical totally counts. When you said you were going to be more patient, considerate, and kind you have to include treating yourself that way as well.

We do not live in bubble-like microcosms where we can do whatever we decide instantaneously. Other things and people are going to get in your way, and the least you can do is not be one of those obstacles. Have an overall goal, then break it up into smaller goals, then break those up again. If you accomplish sixty percent of your tiny goals this year then you are doing amazing. And you get to have extra cake and booze. Confidently allow yourself to enjoy your life, make mistakes, and fail.

Be good, be better, be yourself.

Happy New Year.

All I Want Is Everything

When I am feeling particularly altruistic it’s easy to think about how lucky we all are, and how much we have compared to less fortunate individuals in our communities, and in the world. But, I can’t help thinking that it would be a disservice to all that many of us are blessed with to simply feel guilty or lucky, and do nothing with it. In the interest of best serving fate, it is our responsibility as intelligent, classy, beautiful, compassionate women to fulfill our every potential.

Sadly, putting this sort of thinking into practice is not simple or easy. For some reason it’s perfectly alright to want one thing, and to work towards getting that one thing is admirable. But this thing must, of course, be attainable and within reason. And your desires must be limited to this one thing or you are being greedy. Or crazy. About a thing that doesn’t even exist yet. Evidently “Dream Big” looks great sewn on a pillow, but to actually practice it is to insult those who don’t want more or dream of what you already have.

I call bullshit.

38th AFI Life Achievement Award Honoring Mike Nichols - Arrivals

Ambition and drive and confidence and dedication have not historically been considered very feminine qualities, but we know that to be a fallacy, and it’s time to start acting like it. If Natalie Portman can represent Dior, pick and choose the best acting jobs, graduate from Harvard, make perfect Jewish babies, speak three languages, and live part time in Paris with her hot ballerina lover man then we can certainly go after the job, apartment, car, and lover man that we want. Awareness of reality should definitely hang in the balance, but it shouldn’t hold veto power, and you should never feel guilty for wanting more than you have. It is human nature to strive, and setting goals is healthy. This doesn’t mean that you stop living until you achieve everything that you want, or invest your ability to be happy in attaining these goals. The journey is the fun part, and wanting something slightly beyond the realm of what you think you can have makes you that much more invested in trying to get it.

perfect house

You are going to have critics. Especially from those who come from another generation, and operate from a very “happy with what you have” standpoint. And they’re not wrong. You should be happy with what you have, and appreciate how fortunate you are in the grand scheme of the universe. And then you can plot your non-hostile, and gracefully executed takeover.

I want my cake, I want to eat it, and then I want an ice cream chaser.