Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Am I happy?

Got to thinking about this... Julochka had a post about how happy Danes are, and there was some commentary at the bottom (and throughout the post, I think) about how Americans perceive happiness and how we seem unhappy. I have to admit, I am incredibly untraveled so it made me think about my own life and if I am "happy" with it.

I want to say, very quickly without really getting too deep, yes, I am happy. Now, that said, I need to think about what it looks like when I am happy. Obviously, since there is a trend over the last couple of decades that puts Americans in the low end of the happy-meter there must be something missing. But then, Julochka intimated that Danes don't look particularly happy... So what makes it different?

I think that there is definitely something to the rushed feeling we have here. I am often so overwhelmed by all that needs done and the fact that once I complete that list, there is still more to do. And all that pressure of the "American Dream" - What in the world is that and how do I measure up? I remember as a kid that I was always worried that I wouldn't ever get that figured out. Would I measure up as an American, or would someone come along and say, "Hey! You are really pulling us down! Don't you have a dream? Something marvelous about you that can contribute? No? Well, you need to leave us then..." Silly, but that was what I faced as a child, in my head.

Since it has taken me 40 years to wind up to what I really want to be when I grow up, I can say I do have a dream. Not the Martin Luther King kind of world recognition dream, but a soft, want to be remembered as a loving mother, a superb wife and an amazing help-meet kind of dream. I want to know that on my death bed my kids have found their worth and know that their dreams are not only possible, but can be miles down the road without being threatened with disappearance. You don't have to have all of life accomplished before you turn a certain age. In fact, I know friends that have set these goals only to throw themselves into deep depressions when those land-mark days come and go without realization of the goal... That, I think, is what makes us as Americans seem so sad.

The crushing weight of always looking to the next thing often shadows what we have accomplished not 5 minutes ago. There isn't time allotted to revel in the glory of the present. I am trying to take that time. Make those moments last. I am dismal at it, I must admit. But the fact is, I am trying. Blogging has somehow changed that part of me that wants to rush on, rush on... I contemplate more, forgive more, wait to hear the whole story more. I fight the urge to be insulted because having perspective is more important than being understood. I can think on the perspective, develop my own response and voice it or not. Really, who cares?

I look at my life often and am absolutely amazed at the incredible balance and blessing it has brought me. I am floored by the fact that I don't struggle with health issues, my family is healthy and well cared for, we eat regularly (in fact, maybe too regularly), we go out to dinner often, we see movies and have lots of entertainment options. We have... There are plenty here in America who have not. We donate and take a hands on approach to dealing with that in our small community.

Counting my blessings, I would say that I am truly a happy American. I complain, I strive for more, I want, I am generally a princess. But I am happy where the rubber meets the road. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I love my country and my surroundings within it, I love my choices here. I know there are plenty who would call me naive. I am - no denying it. But I am also very grateful I live in a land where I can be.

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