Happiness: How I Missed the Mark

As I mentioned in my previous posts, I moaned and groaned with the other women in my Cincinnati Writer’s Group as we came to our gathering to share what we wrote about “Happiness.” Today, I am quite happy that we chose to write and share on this topic because it has led to an important awakening in my life.

After contemplating Gary’s profound piece on Transcendent Happiness, I realized that my moans and groans related to my 1950s-60s socialization.

Missing the Mark (sin in the original languages):

The promise of “happily ever after” portrayed in co-dependent ballads that I loved as an idealistic, naive young woman: (think Johnny Mathis’s “Voice of Romance” … Misty, Chances Are, The Twelfth of Never) and musicians who made my heart be-bop (think Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley, Tommy Sands) tripped me up.

“Happily Ever After”

I actually believed that “happily ever after” was how life was supposed to work. Somehow I missed that it is a MYTH! I missed the mark.

When my life didn’t work according to my expectations, I wrestled to make sense of it.

At first, I made myself the problem. “What’s wrong with me?” I tried to whip myself into shape with a long list of self-sabotaging messages. More “Missing the Mark.” 

When I learned about misogyny and sexism, contributing to women’s low self-worth, I reasoned that life was unfair. True, but knowing that didn’t help me hit the mark.

Eventually I found a more productive route. Focusing on “What am I doing wrong?” produced a lot of fruit. There was indeed a lot I was doing wrong. I made a concerted effort to clean up my act.

The tongue-in-cheek perspective in the next paragraph that appeared in my original treatise on “Happiness” makes me happy because it flowed from my fingers automatically … a sure sign of the Transcendent engaging me. 

Not everyone in my life liked my journey from “dysfunctional” to “more functional.” I can’t say from “dysfunctional” to “functional” because I’m not functionally perfect, though a very dysfunctional part of me wishes I were.

Pay Dirt

 

“The whole idea in life is growth. I mean you stop growing, you stop asking questions, you lose your curiosity. That’s not a life you want to live.” ~Goldie Hawn

Gary’s writing on Transcendent Happiness made me curious about my moans and groans. That opened my eyes to how off-center and out-of-balance my 50s-60s mindset throws me … how much I still carry that longing within me for “happily ever after” and how far from the real treasures in life that obsession takes me. Knowing how I miss the mark when it comes to the topic of happiness, I think I can let go of “happily ever after” once and for all. What a relief.

The Comparison Trap:

“Aggregate happiness has not risen in countries where incomes and educational levels have risen. There is much evidence that people compare their income with other people and, if others become richer, they feel less happy at any given level of income.” ~World Happiness Report

 

The same can be said for “happiness.”

“When I compare myself or my life with others, that is a sure sign that I have moved too far away from engaging or allowing myself to be engaged by the Transcendent.” ~Linda A. Marshall

I think my friend, Pat, who described her true happiness as having a sense of peace even when things around her are not going well is on to something significant. She attributes her peace to her relationship with God and the Holy Spirit working through her…what I believe Gary was saying in different words.

For me, I much prefer to focus on The Pursuit of Meaning. That leads me to be right on the mark … growing in consciousness.

Thank you, Gary, for opening my eyes a wee bit wider and my heart to the true treasures in life: my blessings as well as the strength, resilience, and wisdom that can flow from adversity when I am open to receiving it. That is “happiness” I can embrace.

10 comments

  • Greene Gerald

    I agree with your friend Pat. For Psalms 16:11 says “in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

    A closeness to God has its reward of peace and ultimately joy. A close relationship redirects priorities as a wise mother redirects the priorities of an adolescent, leading away from negativity.

    We are encouraged to partake of divine nature–raising our eyes ever higher, which is transcendence, and come ever closer to the source of joy.

    This is where we are called to live.

    • Yes, Gerry,
      And some of us have to learn these lessons experientially … at deeper and deeper levels. Seems to be the path I’ve been called to follow. I know it’s not a common path in the West.
      Thank you for sharing.

  • Cathy Herbenick

    Thanks Linda,
    I admire your great insight. HAVE A HAPPY DAY.

  • Cindi

    Keep on writing…….I love each piece you share with us.

  • Carol J. Alexander

    Linda – I do so appreciate this Happiness conversation. I am reading the World Happiness Report 2017 and find insights there one could call “new.” In my case, not always new, but aspects I had tucked away; this material has caused me to re-establish things that were once in place and tucked away, and now are up and realized again.

    Thanks so much for your loving assistance.

    Carol A.

    • Hi Carol,
      So nice to hear from you … here and during our conversation this weekend. Glad you appreciated the conversation and are re-establishing some realizations you had tucked away. This whole process of writing about happiness and hearing my group share what they wrote has been eye-opening for me. Always great to see things in a new light.

      Thank you for your comment.
      Linda

  • I continue to enjoy your wisdom, Linda, and admire your sharing your wisdom with your trademark humility. As you probably remember, we share a great interest in the origins of shame (toxic) and its contagion in our adult life, especially in Relationships. Keep up your great work, my sister.

    • Hi Damian,
      The puzzle has been solved. I just found you in my spam folder but not until after writing about my experience hearing from you. Watch for my post later this week. You’ll see how much I appreciate your contacting me.

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