Oct 9, 2017

Replacing Joy with Serenity

The search for happiness has been a long, and ongoing one.  I've written about it and discussed it with my mom, Ryan, my friends, coworkers, even my book club.

The book club said something that resonated with me.  "There's so much emphasis on being happy all the time."  Yes!  Why am I spending so much time and energy trying desperately to reach this thing that would be probably occur more naturally if I just relaxed a little?  And is it so freaking important to be happy all the time?

Ryan and I were sitting and watching TV and I felt quietly content.  I told him so and said maybe, as adults, that's our new happiness.  A coworker said the same thing.  I said something about "being mindful and finding joy in every moment" and he laughed and said, "That doesn't exist!"  He then described an evening after his kids (3) were in bed and no one was running, yelling, or trying to give him a wet willy.

So this idea of shifting to seeking serenity and contentment instead of joy almost feels like a relief to me.  Joy takes energy, joy is a level of emotion I haven't felt much of since my teenage years, when they were equally interspersed with dark moods of depression and anger.

When I talked to my mom, I repeated pretty much all of these comments because I tell her everything, and when I got to the part about mindfulness and essential oils and gratitude lists she said, "That's not joy!  That's just busywork."

And I kind of like that.  Every single moment of joy I've had in the last few months has been from my baby.  I didn't seek them out.  I didn't journal them or scent myself into aromatherpied bliss.  I just held him or watched him or listened to his little giggle.  And it just happened.

But I will say this.  The past week of following that new schedule I set up, and getting enough sleep, I have had more of those little moments than I'd previously had in a month.

So like my tangent in the last post - I think you need a strong base, and then after that life and happiness and success will follow.  I don't think those things need so much work and I don't think it's the end of the world if they don't happen right away or right when and how you want them.

Serenity is good, too.  My favorite moments of this past week have been quietly watching TV on the couch with Ryan, or just talking.  My evening routine where I'm alone and NOT working for a whole hour!  I brush my hair and teeth and, yes, I journal.  But I think by forcibly removing myself from my phone, I've given myself quiet space to think and be calm and I think I really, really needed that.

It's somewhat ironic that a year or two ago, the idea of giving up on happiness and "joy" were somewhat depressing.  It felt like settling.  Now, the idea of joy is exhausting and aiming for serenity instead makes me feel calmer and more relaxed.  I don't want to work hard right now.  I want to conserve the mental energy I have left for actually doing things and not on having the proper mindset while I do them.

Maybe one day I'll switch back.  Babies grow up and I'll have more time to myself, to be alone and to work on myself.  But for now, trading in joy for serenity is not such a bad deal at all.

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