2nd Session

My 2nd Visit with my counselor and she gave me homework- 2 questions to answer, you wouldn’t think that would be so hard…. but:
1. What does happy mean to you?
2. How will you know you are happy?
I seriously don’t think she could have given me something harder.
Google defines happy as:
adjective: happy; comparative adjective: happier; superlative adjective: happiest; suffix: -happy
  1. 1.
    feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.

But I guess my question to her does she mean a permanent (or as permanent as people can expect) happiness, or does she mean a happy moment, transient in nature.  Like happiness at getting a bouquet of fresh picked wildflowers from your child? Or the feeling of contentment every parent feels when their children finally fall asleep? Because even depressed people can feel that.  But I wouldn’t describe those as happiness except in a transient moment that can pass as quickly as a dandelion seed blowing in the wind. Is a quick giggle at a joke your husband makes happy? Is happy feeling that happens to you or an event/gift/joke?  I am just not even sure how to define it  If it’s defined as content as google suggests are we all ever really happy? Aren’t we always striving for more? A better job? More money? A new car? A bigger house? More faith? The list goes on and on. If it’s defined as pleasure or showing pleasure, well then I could argue that my withholding of food, my binging or my scratching is happy.  Because in that moment I feel pleasure.  The pain I feel as I scratch my fingernails down my soft skin and feel the build up of the cells and scabs under my fingernails brings a release I can only describe as pleasure. A depressed person can experience momentary pleasure in a moment of intimacy with their spouse. So I am not really satisfied with any of this as a definition, or the question.

As for how I will know I am happy again the same problem arises, if it’s a momentary pleasure/feeling of contentment, then Im happy as I am shoving that cupcake down my throat even though I know later I will hate myself for it. Or I am happy when my daughter gives me her “stew” she made from her fake food, but as soon as the moment passes my sour face is back, the feelings of guilt, sadness, indifference, resentment, anger all return. So am I really happy?  I need more clarification to answer this question.

If I answer it given the google definition happiness is a moment of contentment or pleasure.

And I know I am happy when I have a feeling of pleasure or contentment.

But as far as I am concerned a moment, a glimpse, a vapor of contentment or pleasure isn’t happy, doesn’t mean I am happy.  It means I can experience events that cause the pleasure center of my brain to activate, but to me being happy would be the absence of the negative emotions, the absence of depression and anxiety.  The absence of hating myself and how I look.  It would be being content with my life as is.  To me emotions like happiness, joy, peace and love aren’t things that are meant to be experienced in small doses, I feel like they are meant to be our default state, not a glimpse so quick it slips through our fingers like sand at the beach.

I don’t know maybe you (and my counselor) disagree.  Maybe that’s why my husband says I will never be happy.  Maybe I expect too much. But I don’t think it’s normal to feel a moment of pleasure, contentment or happiness once every great while….. I don’t know. I think I will have to think more… at least I have until Tuesday to “hand in” my homework.


Author: thethingswehideinside

Im an almost 40 year old mom struggling through this life with two children, a husband, a houseful of animals. We all have mental or physical challenges that make daily life even harder, this is our journey.

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