Sunday, December 12, 2010

Success and Happiness Don't Last

I was asked to define success recently, and I just couldn't. I mean, sure, I know the basic definition of success. Success is achieving a goal. But do I consider my life successful because I've attained a few goals along the way? Of course not, because there are always more goals along the way. And re-defining goals, and yes, even failing a few. Does that mean I'm unsuccessful? No, and I'm not a failure because I haven't succeeded at absolutely everything.

My X likes to say that happiness is an unnatural state of mind. I think a more apt way to put that is that happiness is like any other emotion: it comes and goes. Sometimes I'm happy, sometimes I'm not. If someone asked me if I was happy with my life, I would say yes, but I think it's an oversimplification of what true happiness and joy is. If we're happy 24/7, then how could we appreciate it?

Balance, I should say, is also not achievable. It's a great goal because it allows us to shift and re-focus as necessary, but no one's life is ever completely balanced. Routines can feel comforting at times, but at others, they can feel stifling. The sensible approach is to shift the routine a little bit in order to make room for other goals, other pursuits.

I was reading a book about how to achieve balance, how to segment goals into tiny reachable steps in order to reach those goals. As I was reading them, I have to say, I'm pretty proud of how I'm doing when it comes to looking at my life that way. And to feel validated like that helped alleviate some of the guilt that was stifling me a few posts ago.

So at this point, I would say that the thing I can attempt to sustain is feeling like I'm making progress. To know that I've made progress in my work, with the girls, in getting stuff done allows me to relax in front of a TV show or a book with a sense of accomplishment. It's tempting to re-name this blog It's All About Progress, but I'm still going for that unattainable balance in order to keep progressing. As once was brilliantly said by that genius Stephen Sondheim, "well, what's the point of demands you CAN meet?" (Merrily We Roll Along)

The point is to just keep going.


Penelope said...

I think I'll always be a work in progress. ;)

Danielle said...

I really hope that happiness is NOT an unnatural state of mind. I need to find happy as my norm!

Kori said...

WEll, since we all know what kind of a lifestyle X leads, I think we can safely rule him out as a voice of any kind of authority on the subject of happiness! I think we are supposed to be happy, that we are supposed to strive to be happy, but nobody is happy all the time. If they say they are or appear to be, they probably secretly drink or sleep with other people's spouses. However, if we can look at our life as a whole, and say we are in general happy, than that is enough. Because you are right-we have to have the bad in order to grow, and to appreciate and enjoy the good.

That said,the good better start showing up soon; I almost have enough change scraped together for cab fare to the bridge. : )

BigLittleWolf said...

I like this. A lot. Most emotions aren't sustainable (fortunately, the negative emotions aren't sustainable either, if we're lucky).

And balance? It's a moving target - which is your point.

Keep going. Yup. It works for me. Less pressure, no less challenging, and a whole lot more human.

Dingo said...

I think happiness is more than just how we feel in the moment. It's an underlying thread to our lives whether or not we're having a good day or a bad day (or year). But I definitely like the days where the happiness makes me giggle to myself better than the ones where I'm at my wits end about one thing or another.

Cat said...

Love the quote. Keep on striving.