“Happy” is a Rocky Road

There is a prevailing idea that we should be happy all the time. That we have a right to it. That if we aren’t happy, something is wrong. We aren’t living right. In fact, the universe may possibly be against us.

Collage on mixed-media paper: Monsoon Papers, handmade vegetable paper, glue.

Collage on mixed-media paper: Monsoon Papers, handmade vegetable paper, glue.

The American Constitution guarantees us the pursuit of happiness, but not happiness itself. There are going to be bad days. Very bad days. Unfair days. Two days after the dishwasher and washing machine both revolted, the pool pump had it’s Spring check-up.  The service-provider showed up, fiddled with the pump timing and was about to leave when I mentioned that my preference is for the pump to run at night, when I pay less for electricity.

He was pretty condescending, both about my desire to save money and my inability to know how to change the complicated timing mechanism. Wanting to keep peace more than wanting to be right, I paid him and watched him leave. Two hours later, while I was reading the instructions on how to change the timing, the pump stopped. I could not start it again. That was three days ago. The pool is now green–and green pools are not usable. No one would come out over the weekend, and it will be three to five days after someone does show up before the pool is clean enough to use.

Frustrated and angry, I began to brood over how unfair this all is. It is not what I had imagined the first 100-degree weekend would be. And while I was cranky, I muttered, “Why does this always have to happen to me?” Ahhh, how soon I forget.

Yes, this has been a run of expensive bad luck. But it’s not a sign of impending doom. In fact, quite a few things have gone well in the same time.

The tree trimmer never showed up, but now the huge Palo Verdes will shade the kitchen and family room, making it easier for the air conditioning to cool the rooms.

The point is, I realized that the world is neither fair nor unfair. It just is. And my time is better spent looking at what is working well, what is fueling my pursuit of happiness.

Being grumpy and cranky engenders more proof of how unfair life is.  The more time I spend being unhappy, the less time I have to be satisfied. If I spend some time looking for things to be happy about, I’ll find and enjoy them and make it a habit to enjoy what is working out. And all things in balance, I’d rather enjoy the things that worked this weekend.

—Quinn McDonald knows that “this too shall pass” refers to both bad and good events. Everything passes. How she takes it is up to her.