The Happiness Quotient

Happiness means such different things to different people. It isn’t a stroke of luck or something we’re born with. It’s a choice .. a series of choices, really, regardless of the challenges we face or the situations we find ourselves in. It’s a recipe that’s put together depending on our tastes. For some it’s a heaping portion of wealth, a dollop of good health and a pinch of beauty. Others have more of a taste for adventure or serenity or fame. It’s as flexible as our ever changing lives and our uniquely individual selves.

When it became obvious that I could no longer work or enjoy the activities I once had because of my illness it was time to reinvent a life that felt meaningful and fulfilling. After grieving for all I’d lost, a course that still ebbs and flows, it was time to get down to basics. It’s been a long and admittedly painful process but fortunately, what I lack in confidence I more than make up for in determination.

So it began. This thinking about what I needed and wanted. The first step is undoubtedly the hardest. It’s taking stock of where you are and honestly examining your abilities, both physically and emotionally. It’s accepting weakness and vulnerability …being willing to try and more often than not, fail (at least in the beginning). A sexist statement for sure .. but I think this is without question harder for women. Especially women of a certain generation. Spending time and energy thinking about ourselves and what our particular needs and wants are goes against how many of us were raised and the culture we live in. We are the nurturers, not the nurtured.

My particular happiness quotient is made up of family and social time as well as an outlet for creativity and productivity. It demands time spent with others, learning new skills and participating in what I like to call the paradox of generosity. Maybe it’s a product of being raised by hippie parents or living in a community that values inclusion and kindness above status or appearance. Maybe it came subliminally by reading all four of Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positivity Books” back in the day. Regardless of the how’s or why’s, I consider it grace to have ‘stumbled’ across a way forward.

What is your particular Happiness Quotient? It’s a question worth asking.



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