Sunday, June 14, 2009

Unhappiness is Part of Happiness

I really like The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Recently she wrote an article about how happiness and unhappiness are related. Here's a quote from the story "That is, the things that bring happiness also bring frustration, anxiety, boredom, fear, etc."

Isn't that so true? It is one of those things they don't tell you about parenting. Sometimes you will love the little darlings and sometimes you would happily trade them for an extra hour of sleep. Maybe you wouldn't permanently trade them, but the thought is there.

Too many times as parents we believe everything should be cheery and happy all the time. Sorry. but no one's life is like that. Everyone has moments when they sit and wonder "what was I thinking?"

At the same time, there are moments of amazing joy brought on by little things like the first word your child reads or when she kisses you and says "I just wanted to kiss you." It's like you need to understand that not every day is going to be completely happy, so you need to appreciate those that are. And, you need to realize that unhappiness is part of the equation.

I have a friend with small children who is complaining that her brain is going to mush. She is tired of all the baby books and baby songs. She wants to feel like her life has meaning. For some reason, she doesn't see what she is currently doing as having meaning. She feels like she's wasting time. I asked her what she thought she'd be doing with toddler twins and she had some fantasy of spending days at the parks having picnics. Well, we all know that does happen on occasion, but most days are spent changing diapers and cleaning up messes. The children are at that stage, so it's just the reality.

I think her thoughts are common among new parents. We're always told about the joy and happiness. No one talks about the boredom and frustration that are often the flip side of the joy. I always try to think of the frustration as a phase -- something the girls will move through to a better place. We're trying to teach them to ride bicycles. Oh, I can write a book about the frustration of that process. Yet, there are also wonderful joys, like when they finally understand the mechanics of bike riding. It's not smooth and easy yet, but we're getting there.

It's not that the reality is always bad. As Gretchen said, "So all bad feelings aren’t created equal. A bad feeling can accompany something that will, in the end, lead to happiness – or not." I choose to try to find the happiness in most things, so I completely agree with her statement. Life is short; it's time to choose to be happy as often as possible.


Leprakans said...

Ah yes its not happy all the time. We don't want our kids to be unhappy but they have those very whiny periods and as a full time SAHM I feel like I have those whiny periods too where I wish I could just get a way for a long while. Parenting is hard but it is so worth it. =-)

Andrea's Sweet Life said...

What a great perspective. I think all the stages of our kids' lives have good and annoying parts. I try to focus on the good and power through the bad!

Also, a glass of wine at the end of the day is a big plus!