I am not one of those people who are naturally happy. You know those types – they wake up bright-eyed at six a.m. on the dot, stretch out their arms, and start singing like a Disney character.
A cartoon princess I am not.
Those of us who were teenagers in the nineties will remember Daria…
Yep. That’s my natural temperament. I fight against droll, sarcastic quips every minute. It’s been a losing battle, but I do try.
I don’t really like being Miss Doom and Gloom, or as I like to call her, Apocalypta, so I bring my soul back to balance through reading, meditation, prayer and exercise (not at the same time. What am I, Wonder Woman?). I have to find ways to constantly remind myself what I am living for and what I am focusing on, because it’s far too easy to focus on the negatives in life. You know those oft lamented spreadsheets and hours of math I do a day, or egad, scrubbing my kitchen floor? I just scrubbed it six months ago, you mean I need to scrub it AGAIN?? Yea, I find myself focusing on that stuff far too frequently. What can I say? I’m always seeking to improve my lot in life
by bitching about it through criticism in a way that does not at all work.
So one day last week when I was in a particularly foul mood over something or other, Mike started watching a documentary about happiness called…wait for it…Happy. Documentaries being irresistible to this perpetual student, I overheard the first ten minutes from my office, then wandered in like a truculent child and sat my bad attitude down. I cannot resist the allure of learning something new.
Since then, I’ve been bumping into happiness everywhere I go. TED talks, which I listen to in the car, seem suddenly focused on the psychological study of happiness; books I’m reading feature themes of characters actively seeking happiness and a clearer understanding of what happiness is; a friend reminded me a few weeks back to reread The Happiness Project; shoot, even articles in psychological journals are jumping out at me. Psychological Journals, people! God is definitely trying to tell me something.
(That’s how God speaks to me, by the way; by making something so obvious a chimpanzee could discern subtleties in pattern.)
Like the good little student I am, I sought out the website mentioned by one of the psychological experts on happiness, Authentic Happiness, and took a character assessment that’s supposed to ascertain what I could do to put myself in “flow.” Oh wait, I need to back up and define flow, don’t I? Well, flow (not to be confused with “Aunt Flo,” you chucklers) is one of the most enduring forms of happiness according to the head doctors. Wikipedia, that good ol’ standby for the lazy researcher, defines it as “the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.” <— THAT. That is what I want. That is why I’ve been such a grump lately. I mean, for the last few years.
Off the top of my head, I already knew that I feel flow when I’m writing, reading, traveling, playing the piano, or painting. Or in school. Please don’t make fun of me.
After taking the assessment, I learned that my top three strengths are:
- Love of Learning
- Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence
- Curiosity and Interest in the World
This. Makes. So. Much. Sense. Brain. Exploding. No wonder I couldn’t drag my butt out of college.
Now, how to parlay these strengths into a career? Hmm…no one has volunteered to pay me for going to school yet…
Being someone who spends the majority of her waking hours out of flow, I can see how I’ve become such a grouch-pot.
I’m still working on the master plan (writing the novel), but finding time has been challenging as of late, to say the least. Stupid multiple illnesses over the holidays threw off my flow. On the plus side, my French is coming along beautifully. I mean, magnifiquement.
So in addition to my goals for this year, I’m working on my flow. Because while Daria is entertaining, no one wants to live with her.