Friday, September 6, 2019

Brain vomited happiness.

Over the weekend, I had a conversation with an old friend. We discussed lots of things - changes, life, where we are, where we are headed. One thing that stuck out to me was the use of the word "happy".

We were with a group, friends we have shared for over 30 years, and another of the group came up as part of our conversation. We had drifted into discussion about relationships that had changed over the last few years, and this friend said "(the other friend) just wants me to be happy."

A valid goal. Admirably supported by friends. I said as much, responding that it seemed like a reasonable plan. But what does it mean when intertwined in the concept of relationships? How do you define "happy" in the context of your interactions with another person?

Because let's face it, happy is a short term feeling. It can be a regularly occurring one, but other emotions NEED to be intermingled in there, or we lose sight of what happy is, and what makes us feel that way.

(Details break... I started this post, then had to pause because real life is a thing. It's now a couple days later as I come back to finish it, and I actually had more conversation with the initial friend last night, and we shared some good thoughts that tie in really beautifully to this. So.. without further ado...)

Relationships can be fragile things, because emotions are powerful. We spend a lot of energy thinking about perfect partnerships, and we forget that no one person is going to be able to fill all of our emotional support needs, and that we can't be the only one filling those needs for someone else.

Friendships are relationships, and there are variants in those that matter. We have "Work Friends" - the ones that understand what we do for, really, the largest part of our day. Some of us have "Parent Friends" - the ones who we can turn to for help and guidance when kids are involved, or that we can hang out with in those family friendly situations. We have the "Social Fun Friends" - the ones that bring out a more extroverted side of us. We have the "Life-Long Friends" - ones who know more about who we are and where we came from than almost anyone.

These are all separate from our spouse or partner. In periods where there isn't a partner, they are the other cogs in the wheel that keep us grinding. A partner is one single tooth in that gear - they can be important and helpful for us, but they don't have to be critical - we can move forward without them. It's also important to realize that if any of the cogs is bent, the wheel is stopping. Missing? No biggie, it's a little harder to go, but going still happens. Bent? Damaged? It's damaging to the whole thing. Locks it up. Makes it so your contact with the remaining cogs is impossible.

Bent cogs can often be repaired - that's the good news. Sometimes, the repair is to the existing cog, sometimes it requires that the cog be removed and replaced, but repair to the gear itself is ALWAYS possible, and every cog along the way? Old & new, damaged, replaced, repaired? Each cog has helped move that gear forward in it's path.

I see people share things that imply that happiness is a choice, and I concur, to a limit. Happiness is the result of gratitude, and gratitude is a choice. When we recognize the things that are good in our lives over the things that are challenging or broken, we find gratitude. Here's the thing - we NEED the challenging or broken to exist to make it work.

Ride with me a minute on this, k? If we don't have a perspective on what's negative, or bad, or failing, or broken in a situation, we cannot recognize the improvement, repair or success when we accomplish it. If it's always sunny, we don't appreciate the sun. We need cloudy days, windy days, rainy days and sunsets. We need nights filled with stars, and snowfalls, and sometimes, as painful as it is, we need something as disruptive as a hurricane, tornado or wildfire. It's the same with emotion. We NEED to be mad. We NEED to be sad, or hurt, or lonely. Without those feelings, we cannot experience gratitude or recognize happiness.

All of that is a really wordy way to say that I believe that what we perceive as damage, as brokenness, as loss? It's just a window to help remind us of the really, really great we actually have. We just need to open the blinds and look. 

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