Thursday, April 12, 2012

Trying to find happiness

A little over a month ago, I realized that I wasn't really feeling happy with certain aspects of my life. For instance, I'm not particularly fond of my job. It's all right, but not especially challenging or mentally invigorating. I find myself bored for a good portion of each day, and having to sit for about 8 hours every workday has compounded the feeling. What's even worse is...I can't justify quitting. I've vaguely looked for other things, but there's not really much out there. Everything is either asking for way more (and different) experience than I have, or they get paid far less and don't have benefits. So I'm stuck, and the feeling has left me incredibly frustrated.
I hate that feeling. So I'm doing my best to liven things up, to change what I don't like. Even if only to shake up my days a bit, I've volunteered for more and different activities at work. (I'm now on four different committees!) Instead of accepting the idea that I have to sit at my desk, I've started standing for a good portion of my day. At first I did it under the guise of having that giant bruise on my butt (which was uncomfortable, yes, but also a convenient excuse) and now by saying, "Oh, I'm training for that 5k on Saturday and if I sit for too long my legs get sore and stiff." I've found myself less antsy at the end of each day and, surprisingly, these little changes have made me more content with my job. I don't know if I'll ever feel as excited about it as I did when first accepted for the position, but I know that I won't be in this job for forever, either. It's a means to an end. Because of my position, I get free tuition. So I'll be using that more. Not necessarily to get another degree, but even if it's only to pursue personal goals and interests it'll be well worth it. I talked to my old music teacher the other day about taking lessons again in the fall. It depends on how busy she is with actual, degree-seeking students, but if she can fit me in she will. It's made me absurdly excited. I also signed up for another class which just sounded interesting to me.
Thinking about what would make me happy, I've had quite a few conversations with Shane recently about what we want for our future. I won't go into details, but we've worked out a general idea of the things we want in our lives and when we'd like to (hopefully) do them by. We don't have grand plans, but they're our plans. It's been good for us, in part because I realized that I've been kind of grumpy because of how discontented I was with other aspects of my life. I feel like I've been taking my discontent out on him. But making him happy is just as important to me as keeping myself happy, so I've made an effort to change that. Not that it's really been hard to stop being grumpy. I just had to realize that I was doing it.
I'm also having to realize that neither of us is really going to feel like the distribution of chores is completely even. I have to stop being a martyr and thinking that he doesn't do "his half". It only causes trouble when I accuse him of slacking off or only doing the easy chores, and I'm sure there are things he does which I never notice. It's one purely mental source of unhappiness over which I, obviously, have complete control. So I'm done trying to keep score and figure out if I'm working harder at keeping the house clean than he is. I'm just done with it.
I decided not to get a second job this summer because, as I told Shane, the idea fills me with dread. He asked, "Then why were you even considering it?" Silly me, I had mistaken his original support for the idea as him feeling that we need the money a second job would bring in. Really, he just wanted me to do whatever would make me happy. The thought of giving up some of the best months of the year to another job, having less time to spend in the garden and with friends, just for money, seemed like such a crappy trade. I'll be a lot happier, and healthier, by putting the time that would have gone into a second job into things that will make me happier. Like long walks or runs with the dog, bike rides, gardening, softball, and time with friends.
I don't want to waste my youth working as hard as I possibly can, and I don't want to delay my happiness to some intangible point in the future when everything will be as I want it do be. I need to change my life now to make myself happier. So I'm doing that, little by little.
It seems that every book I've read lately, every show I've watched (all two episodes of one show--"Castle") have talked about trying to hold onto the good parts of life while you can, because life is short. You never know what's going to come up so it's important to hold onto the people and things which are important to you. Don't take life for granted. I'm trying to take these lessons to heart. I don't necessarily want to live each day like it's my last, but I do want to live them to their fullest. I don't want to have regrets when I'm old about all the time I wasted being unhappy. I want to have a life full of memories about the awesome, amazing, peaceful, wonderful things I did. I want to know that my life wasn't wasted. I don't want to look back on my life wondering where all the time went and why I didn't spend more of it doing things that were important to me. So I'm doing them.
It helps when unexpected and fun things come up--like the phone call from my uncle saying that he's in town and wants to take us out for dinner tonight. :)

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