Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How do you know if you are happy?

I have a friend who is a few years older who has a lot in flux in her life right now - job change, marriage challenges, and issues with her children. As she was telling me about everything that is going on with her the other day, I said we were too old to be unhappy. If something was making her unhappy, my advice was to make changes, and simplify to make her happier. She asked me, "how do I know if I am happy?".

Her question hit me. I know when I am happy, and when I am not, but had never had to put it into words how to tell if you are happy. For me, I know I am happy when I am not stressed, or angry. I am happy when I am around people that make me feel good, and laugh. I am happy when I have a new, exhilarating experience, and when I achieve a goal I have been working towards.

I mentioned this conversation to Chad, and Katt, when they called me on the way home from Katt's swim practice the other night. They both immediately commented on how (obviously) happiness is relative, which had not occurred to me. Katt (my 13 year old) jumped into a description of a study of happiness of African American members of the US Army during World War II that were from the North versus the South. They found that those from the South were happier because of the treatment in the Army versus lack of civil rights of their peers.

Chad went on to share studies he had read about that showed poor countries that were universally poor had relatively high levels of happiness. Countries with broad wealth distribution tended to be much less happy.

I don't know how you measure happiness in these studies. If I think of happiness on a relative basis I tend to think of it versus other points in my life.

Oddly enough with everything we have had going on the last several months, Chad and I have talked several times how happy we are.

Our girls are thriving in school, and have very nice friends. You can tell they are happy by their unrestrained smiles, and laughter, that comes from deep within them.

While we have enough space in our house for us all to have our own space, in the evening, and on weekends, more often then not we are all together piled up reading, playing games or watching a show.

I have days where I physically don't feel good, but I have friends who come to visit me, or text, call or email to check up on me. I have a very supportive family and I have a lot to look forward to. I am very content with my life, and am very happy.

I am a very goal oriented person. If you ask me what I want for my children when they grow up, odds are I would say I want them to be happy. It is funny to me, what I want most for my children is something you can't measure quantitatively, and only they can judge if they achieve it.

Life at NIH is still going well. My labs were good again today, although my platelets were down a bit and my creatinine up to 0.89. Tomorrow mornings labs will be a big determinant if I am on track to leave on Thursday, or if kidney issues are back. I have taken it easy today. I am not stressed, and hopefully will be home in 48 hours.

1 comment:

  1. Beth, keep up and the courage and the positivity. I know you will get through this..