I love the new(ish) silly expression, ” I have all the feels”. I have a few friends who use it and while it seems a little vague (and goofy) to me it is so descriptive because lately, I have had all the feels. In the Religious Ed classes I’m teaching we’re talking about true happiness. In my counseling classes, we’re reading about relationships and “pair-bonding” which is a strange way of saying long-term relationships. In my non-school reading time, I finished two very different books, Mercy in the City and What Alice Forgot that have me all wound up in thought.
As is my way, I have been ruminating a lot on all of it; especially, what makes me happy and how relationships last. I often think we don’t know the answer to the first one which is why the second one is often a struggle.
When we pair up, we think that pairing is what should make us happy and often it does in the beginning. Remember when you first fall in love your brain is so full of dopamine, endorphins and even oxytocin (yep) that you can be happy even if everything else is falling apart around you. It stands to reason that you would want to feel that way for as long as you can, and often you credit those feelings of bliss to your mate.
Sometimes, we repeat this falling in love process many times, so we trick ourselves into thinking those feelings are actually what BEING in love is. Then we pair up and attempt to live happily ever after based on chemicals that are bound to weaken as time goes on.
For me, the last few years where money was not an option to buy happiness, I was forced to look very closely at myself and my surroundings and find a root. Of course, in Religious Ed classes we’re teaching when that root is God we are happy. But while that is a lovely abstract idea, I don’t do well with abstracts and I also don’t do well with one-answer-for-everyone type answers. So, while I don’t disagree with that answer, I want to know more about what “choosing God” looks like, for me.
As I get older, I mostly define being happy as feeling peaceful, which is also pretty vague, but to me is a time when even the chaos of the day can’t rattle me because it is all chosen chaos. So often, as a parent especially, we don’t choose the chaos du jour as it’s related to the comings and goings of our charges. But ultimately, by choosing parenthood, we did choose all that comes with children and no matter their age, that usually involves some pretty hefty crazy.
So how does one find peace in chaos? For me, it simply comes down to choosing to do so. It turns out, what makes me happy never looks the same and often comes from me simply deciding to embrace it. What makes me happy is choosing to be happy. It’s focusing on all that is good in my life and being grateful for that. My root is gratitude and grounded in that, even the toughest times are manageable.
It’s easy to get lost in the haze of parenthood, even on the best of days. Throw in some real life negativity, illness or drama and it becomes nearly impossible to stay afloat. But by taking the time when it’s all going well to really dig in and be grateful, I feel like I’m stealing myself for the time when life inevitably gets tough and somehow, being rooted will still mean being happy.