We all get stuck doing stuff that sucks. Or at least, stuff we’re not super psyched about.
Take long, solo road trips, for instance. I’m so not a fan of being wedged in a car for hours at a time, forced to sit still and robbed of physical activity. Ugh.
But as I cruised the length of Florida in my Dodge pickup earlier today, fighting heavy lids and road hypnosis, I was reminded that lasting happiness is about finding joy everywhere, in every moment. Including that one.
Being a happy human doesn’t mean you’re bubbling over with joy and enthusiasm and bliss every single second. It does, however, entail honing your ability to maintain happiness regardless of your current circumstances. True, lasting happiness isn’t limited to pleasurable activities and raucous good times. Instead, it’s about finding pleasure in ALL activities; discovering meaning in all scenarios.
When we start to exclude entire activities or chunks of time as burdens to be endured, we’re toying with trying to fast-forward our lives. And that’s never a good idea (as we learned from Adam Sandler’s 2006 masterpiece, Click). Every moment has its magic, if we look for it. Each is precious and rife with possibility. Write some off as worthless, and you’re wasting bits of your precious life.
Back to my car trek. It would have been easy to bemoan the long drive, moan about the cost of gas, complain about spine stiffness, yadda yadda. We’ve all been there. Back in the day I used to drive the length of Cali’s I-5 all. the. time. I’m pretty sure all I did was bitch about it.
But what about the upsides? Driving means time for a mental refresh, a chance to see the scenery change from one end of the state to the other, hours to listen to Spotify playlists or tomes on Audible (I totes recommend The Adventures of Henry Thoreau by Michael Sims) and countless chances to practice mindfulness.
Car ride, board meeting, doctor’s visit — whatever the less-than-thrilling scenario, eeking out the upsides is a key part of being happy. Because happiness isn’t exclusive to wedding days and surprise parties and Christmas morning. It’s an everyday affair. And it takes practice, y’all.