I have been thinking about happiness lately. What is it? Do you know? Is it constant elation? Absence of misery? The feeling that you have everything you need?
I have been happily (or unhappily?) musing, in part, because of some of the blogs I frequent where happiness is a struggle. It is also on my mind because my mother recently accused (if that is the right word) me of being unhappy. I told her she was projecting, which I am convinced is true, regardless of my own state. Yet, I weighed it in my mind: Am I unhappy?
Talking with my husband once about depression, I mentioned that I did not think I was depressed, at least not in the clinical sense. He kind of cocked his head and looked at me skeptically. I insisted that I was not prone to depressive states, and he pointed out that some of my morose periods are quite lengthy and pronounced.
Some of my periods of distress are hormone driven, a fact which irks me a little because it makes emotions seem illusory, which, of course, they are.
Generally speaking, I am not unhappy. I am fully content, in many ways, with my life. I have done things that as a child I would never have dreamed possible. I have a great husband, perhaps one of the safest men I have ever met. I have fabulous kids. I have had the satisfaction of fulfilling major life goals. I have it good, seriously, I am very fortunate. In fact, I feel guilty when I do feel unhappy.
There are things I am unhappy about, some chronic, some acute. I won’t list them here, some are perhaps too silly and some are perhaps too heavy to share.
Perhaps the most important consideration is that I grew up immersed in pain and worry and my relationship models are marked by emotional turmoil. I can, of course, see the larger picture of human suffering: what I have experienced is much less than some and some degree more than others. Yet, it is difficult for me to reconcile what I know is negative about the world with what I know is positive. Perhaps there are certain kinds of childhoods that are just not conducive to adult-state happiness.
I like to consider myself at least mildly entertaining, though my humor is sarcastic in nature, from birth. But I am not at all what you would ever call a jovial person, I am not happy-go-lucky. I am pensive, intense, and opinionated in a way that can come across as critical. To make matters more complicated, I can be very hard to read, so even when I am in a state of bliss, it is very internal.
So, although I am not unhappy, I don’t think I would call myself happy either. Can that be? Is happy the true opposite of unhappy? Or are they two totally different scales? Am I neurotic?