Monday, July 11, 2011

If you want to be happy, be.

Matt and I closed on our very
own house almost two months ago on June 17th. While Matt dealt with most of the nitty gritty on house buying during the day (dealing with lenders, realtor, etc.), I worked during the day and in the evenings to make sure our finances were in order. Matt's job was much harder than mine. If the task were left to me, we probably wouldn't be in a house.

But our house is perfect and lovely and cozy. One of my softball players called it a "little cottage" in her super country, East Tennessee accent. That's exactly what it is though. And Max asked, "How is Matt going to fit in there?" Because Matt is big, and the house is not. But he fits. We are both fitting here comfortably.

Because Matt and I have not dwelled together before we closed on the house (54 days before the wedding, to be exact!), we are having to learn each other in a completely different way. A great way. Probably a way that is supposed to happen after marriage, but hell, we're here now so don't judge. We decided on this journey a long time ago, so we are happy with our decision.

Part of living together before we do the till-death-do-us part was an economical decision. The other part of it can only be described like house-breaking a dog. You can't be too busy or the dog will pee on the rug forever. Because we're getting married in September, it will mean that we will go back to our normal, strange schedules. I'll work all day and a few nights, and Matt will work primarily nights. So, if we are to spend any meaningful time living together, the time is now. We needed to sniff each other out so that when we work opposite schedules, we feel like we still live together. Matt also needed to learn how to make a bed. The past few weeks have been really fun and sweet.

Its like living in a real-life Sims game. Girl Sim needs food, so Boy Sim cooks. Girl Sim makes bed and tucks sheets, which makes Boy Sim unhappy because he doesn't like his feet tight at the end of the bed. Girl Sim likes her laundry to smell good and Boy Sim kind of likes smelling last week on his clothes (ie unscented laundry detergent). Girl Sim needs shower. Boy Sim waters plants 3x a day. Girl Sim wants a nap and Boy Sim wants to sit on the couch and watch. Boy Sim likes to wash dishes in the sink even though there's a dishwasher and Girl Sim can't stand the grime leftover on forks.

If you can imagine it, we've just met all over again and are dating. Except its much more complicated than that because we know each other so well, but not well enough. I haven't eaten carbs in two weeks because its not part of Matt's diet and he does all the grocery shopping so far. I'm melting because I LIVE off carbs. Granted, he has given me my own little cabinet space for crackers and cereal and pasta. And we are eating a really clean diet. But I do miss my rich breads. Not enough to go to the grocery store though...

If you haven't read it already, you really should pick up the small, unassuming book Hector and the Search for Happiness. Its so small that you could re-read it several times in a week if you choose. "Once upon a time there was a young psychiatrist called Hector who was not very satisfied with himself..." Hector is very good at treating patients in need of his help. But he can’t do much for those who are simply dissatisfied with life, and that is beginning to depress him. When a patient tells him he looks in need of a vacation, Hector takes a trip around the world to learn what makes people happy—and sad. As he travels from Paris to China to Africa to the United States, he lists his observations about the people he meets. The list he comes up with is simple, almost too simple, in solving this big conundrum. The secret lies in remembering the good things you have going for you.

Too often, I think, we let ourselves slide into negative funks without allowing ourselves to really think through it. Letting the bad thoughts slip in and failing to dismiss them, allowing them to infect us and others.

While we are all searching for contentment in our lives, we lose focus and get frustrated.

I've never been a planner, neither short or long term. I don't like to look too far ahead for fear that I'll be disappointed. Living with Matt and planning the wedding has taken me out of my comfort zone. I'm planning for my (our) future and it makes me most anxious.

When I was 5, my parents always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down, "happy." They said I didn't understand the assignment. I said they didn't understand life.

Luckily, Matt is really, really (almost too good) at planning. I do plan on letting Matt be the master planner for the rest of our lives. I'll do the day-to-day planning, but I'm not really even good at that. What am I doing tomorrow, you ask? I have no plans. Besides the basic survival strategies I've set up for myself (eat, sleep, run, work), I'm fairly inept at planning or decision making.

My search for happiness has landed me here:
1. Happiness is having a home and a garden.
2. Happiness is doing a job that you love.
3. Happiness is running slow enough to talk with a great friend.
4. Happiness is knowing how to breathe through a tough situation.
5. Happiness is Saturday morning coffee in your pajamas with someone you love.
6. The sun and the sea make everyone happy.
7. Happiness is a dinner table full of happy, smiling faces.
8. Happiness is coming home to someone you love every day.
9. Happiness is having enough money to do the things you love and pay your bills.
10. Making comparisons can spoil your happiness.
11. Happiness often comes when least expected.
12. Its a mistake to think that happiness is the goal.
13. Happiness is being loved for exactly who you are.
14. Happiness is knowing how to celebrate, breathe, rationalize.
15. Happiness is making sure the people around you are happy.

I think we like to complicate something when it is really quite simple; find what it is that makes you happy, and find who it is that makes you happy, and stay focused on that, and you're set. Promise. No matter what has happened before or what could happen later.

While all of the planning and changing have made me uncomfortable and anxious, I'm pretty proud of my ability to breathe through it all so far. I've learned (and am still learning) to move through this world of adulthood that's tarnished and scarred and ugly sometimes, and prevent a lot of the head-spinning negative thoughts. The scary "what-ifs."

And in four weeks, I'll be married to a man who works just as hard as I do (if not harder--he's not pre-set on the feeling, a grouch at heart) to stay happy.

"If you want to be happy, be." Leo Tolstoy