Happiness & Me (& You)

So….maybe it’s the focus on the physical that has dominated 2016 for me (home renovations, moving, more renovations). Maybe it’s the age of my kids — my youngest started kindergarten in September. Maybe it’s the fact that I moved a few months ago, out of the “village” where I raised my babies, away from a heck-ton of siblings, my parents, and a lot of great friends. Maybe it’s the fact that my dog died in May and I don’t have him to look after (or him to look after me). Maybe it’s the cutthroat politics that have dominated news cycles and made the world feel so cold. Maybe it’s feeling like I don’t measure up to my own ideas of success, the possibility that I never will, and that I don’t know how to define a success that can be mine…that already IS.

No matter the cause, I have been thinking about happiness. What is it that makes me happy, and keeps me happy? Is my daily focus in the right places? What’s the important stuff — because I definitely don’t want to lose sight of it.

There’s a lot of research on happiness, and it points AWAY from the material and toward RELATIONSHIPS. People who feel connected and have close relationships are happier and live longer, healthier lives. People who serve — who provide value to others as a focus of their days, also tend to be happier.

Check out this TED talk with Harvard researcher Robert Waldinger covering highlights of a long-term study of HUMANS. 🙂  Relationships, relationships, relationships!!!

Is the idea of happiness unworthy fluff? Is it entitled snobbery?

No! When I improve myself, I bring more light into the world. I show that I can absolutely admit I am imperfect and still, even in my now-late 30s, have room to grow (in spades! lol). I have to believe this gives others hope for our world and for their own lives. If I’m going to spend my time, my life, on something…focusing on how to be happier sounds a whole lot better than focusing on the parts of the world or our society that drive me nuts. Of course I can find something to get riled up about. But given an hour to kill, it is better to write a post like this than to focus on the dark side and whatever it’s up to.

Sometimes we get lost in the day’s news stream. Our attention follows the flash and we spend our precious minutes getting worked up or upset…for no reason. To no value. This anger and angst adds NOTHING to the world. It will wound, though, if given a chance.

Sometimes we struggle to “measure up” to some outside idea of success. Or even an inside idea of success, the one we were raised with or the one we saw and wanted to have for ourselves.

But what do we need?

We need to be useful and valuable to others. Whatever that means to us, personally. For me, I need to be kind. I need to be emotional. I need to bring ME to the conversation, not the idea of me that I want others to see. And I need my people.

Have a beautiful day.

About J.R. Pearse Nelson

J.R. Pearse Nelson is a native Oregonian, residing in the beautiful Portland area. She lives with her husband, two small daughters and the family dog. J.R. is always searching for the magic in our world. She weaves tales rooted in mythology, bringing legend to life in modern-day and fantasy settings. J.R. is the author of the Children of the Sidhe paranormal romance series, the Foulweather Twins fantasy series, and the Water Rites fantasy series. You can connect with J.R. online at her website. Visit jrpearsenelson.com.