Over the past few weeks I’ve had more highs and lows than I’d like to admit. Sure, I changed my birth control the same day that we moved. So part of me would like to blame the hormonal changes just a little bit. But I don’t think that’s really the case, or at least not the whole problem by a long shot.
And it’s true that we have been continuously on the go for several months now and have yet to have a normal weekend in the new home (Mr. Lively hasn’t even spent a weekend here at all yet). So there is a true need for relaxing and normalcy. We’ve been in a stretch zone for what seems like a long, long time.
On the other hand, I expected myself to be overjoyed and singing like those little birds in Cinderella. I am in the process of creating a full-time career based on my purpose of helping people design lives with intention. I’m living in a gorgeous apartment which is getting more complete and beautiful by the day. I’ve got a sweet, patient, funny husband who loves me despite the dozen emotional outbursts I’ve had over the past month. I’ve got a sweet puppy coming home in just a few weeks.
I have “the recipe” for happiness that I created… intentionally.
But when it comes to day-to-day happiness and fulfillment, I’ve remained constant or maybe even a bit less happy.
Am I happy with my life overall? Absolutely. 100%. Without a doubt.
But that overarching happiness is not directly correlating to emotional stability, peace, and joy in my moods, emotions, and daily life at all times.
Heck, I got my new drivers license last week and when they messed up and didn’t change my last name on the card (which I noticed twenty minutes later in the food court). I came back to find myself in a waiting room filled with thirty people waiting to get their photos taken and I almost came to tears at the thought of having to wait in the line again.
I think I’ve stacked a lot of expectation about my day-to-day happiness on my overall situation. If I have designed the life I want with intention, I should live happily ever after.
My experience these past three weeks has taught me no. And so has research on happiness itself. In the Pursuit of Perfection they speak of research that shows people have a natural set-point of happiness. Which means events like winning the lottery (good) or losing a limb (bad) only affect happiness levels for a few months. Over time, people naturally return back to their normal set-point of happiness.
For me, especially lately, I think my unconscious expectation that life would be flawless now that I’ve designed it with intention has actually hindered my happiness set-point. And only by breaking free of that expectation will I allow myself to resume my more positive outlook and have any room for happiness growth in the future.
I now understand firsthand that it is not our overall life intentions that “make” us happy (though detrimental habits, addictions, or fears can probably make us unhappy) day-to-day. Our reactions to the frustrations, flaws, and bumps in the road of life are within our control no matter where we are on our intentional life scale. And in my case, I need to unhitch the idea that my intentional life decisions will relate to my patience and peace at the DMV.
I will continually be responsible for my reactions to life – my overall life satisfaction is not a blanket of happiness that covers everything all the time.
Sharing this here with you has helped me take a metaphorical and physical sigh of relief. The friction that has been building between me and my happiness is starting to melt. Perhaps I just needed to admit that I made a sub-conscious mistake and my expectations were misplaced.
Come to think of it, just from sharing this understanding I’m feeling better already.
PS – Business in the City is tonight!