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The Nagging Question

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my life lately.  I’ve thought a lot about where I’ve been, where I’m going, what I’m doing in my life right now.  But the biggest question that keeps coming up is, “Am I happy?”  The general answer to that question is “No.”

Happiness can be defined by so many things.  The hard part is figuring out which of those things really matters to you deep down.  When I look down the list of the things that really matter to me, the scale of happiness becomes quite a mixture.

I read a blog post earlier today (and I can’t for the life of me remember where) about a person who made the choice to quit her part-time job.  She didn’t make any formal plans as to how she would spend her extra time that was previously consumed by that job.  Instead, she chose to just relax and enjoy her new free time.  The blogger noted that it resulted in an overall happier mood.  Wow, did that get me thinking.

I constantly feel like I am running on overdrive.  It seems like there is always something left undone at the end of the day.  I over-commit myself.  I hate saying no when someone asks me to do something, so I say yes even though I know I don’t have the time for it.  Plus, I am lazy.  I am lazy at work.  I am lazy at home.  It isn’t the kind of lazy where I just sit around doing nothing (how nice would that be?), but instead I tend to neglect the things that need done in favor of doing the things I want to do (like blogging).

The end result is that I don’t follow through with things.  Many projects end up done sloppily or sometimes are never fully completed.  I put things off until the last minute and then rush to throw them together.  It leaves me feeling incompetent and I’m sure doesn’t impress others much.

The laziness flows over into my personal life as well.  I don’t take care of my home, my finances, or my family the way that I feel like I should.  I don’t even take care of myself the way I should.  I certainly don’t take care of my husband the way that I should.  I always find myself saying, “I just don’t have time for that.”  But why don’t I have time?  Why don’t I have time to snuggle on the sofa with my husband in the evenings after Zach is in bed asleep?  Why don’t I have time to prepare a healthy meal for my family?  Why don’t I have time to exercise and take care of my body?  Why don’t I have time to create a budget and financial plan?  How do other people do it?

I wish I had someone to give me the answers to all of those questions.  I don’t know how to get myself back on track.  I feel like I am constantly being pulled in fifty different directions and I’m just not that stretchy.  The only way to find more time to do the things I need to do is to cut out the things that I enjoy doing.  Will that help me find happiness or will that just make it worse?

I try to think back to a time when I life was easier and I felt happy and carefree.  I don’t ever remember a time that I was 100% happy, but I remember times when I felt content to just be.  I wonder why I can’t find that contentment now.  Why do I feel the need to fill every waking moment with some kind of project or activity.  Why is it so hard for me to just sit and watch TV or a movie without my hands moving or my thoughts drifting away?

One of the things that I know about myself is that I take pride in my accomplishments.  When I was in school, accomplishments were easy.  I was an overachiever for the most part, and I was rewarded for that by good grades, honor rolls, and various scholarships and awards.  There was something tangible that I could hold in my hand to show my success.  In real life, however, success and accomplishments are so different.  I wonder if part of the reason I feel like I must always be doing something more is that I am searching for something to be proud of.  Am I compensating for my failures in life (and there are many) by trying to take on more than I can handle?  Is all of this a direct result of my own insecurities? 

There are so many questions that run through my head.  I constantly contemplate whether giving up some of the things I love will result in a higher level of happiness or if it would just make me more resentful and unhappy in the end.  I guess it all comes down to figuring out what it is that truly makes me happy.  For me there is no black or white on this issue.  Instead it is a mixture of various shades of gray.

So, am I happy?  Not completely.  The scale tips from day to day.  Do I want to be?  Absolutely.  I just have to find a way to make the changes in my life that will allow me to be.

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  1. I have happy moments in every day, but I’m not constantly happy. I don’t think anybody is. Here’s one thing I can tell you from experience, though: When you are sixty years old, you will look back to this time of your life with fondness and wish you could have just one of these days back. Just one more hug from your toddler. Just one day when your body didn’t ache somewhere. Many years down the road you will likely look back to this time and say, “I was so happy then!”

  2. dee dee

    Donna –

    You have a very good point, my friend. Thank you for putting things into perspective a little bit.

  3. i think taking a stand and saying, “i want to start making little changes to improve my life and the lives of those i love” is the most important first step. hopefully just knowing you’re on the path will help improve your outlook a little bit. 🙂

  4. I just posted about happiness and choices myself, today. When I was 29, I began making a series of choices that ultimately made my life better. Did it happen overnight? No. And some of the choices I had to make were HARD (like saving more money and buying less fun stuff or taking a job that wasn’t my dream job, but allowed me to get into a better financial position)

    I think it is a positive step to reflect and think of those changes that you can make to put yourself in a better position.

    I used to have problems always saying “yes”, but now that I have a kid, I am VERY selfish with my time. He will only be this little for so long – I’ll always have time to do that other stuff. I have found just saying “oh, I need to look at my schedule” keeps me from automatically agreeing to things straight away.

  5. Amy Amy

    Well, the previous responses had some very good points. At 60 you will look back with good thoughts and changes will not happen all at once.

    So, to throw my two cents in is well, all I can do from 2000 miles away. Girl, I know that my life and you life are different in many ways, but hopefully I still know you (pretty well). You are a perfectionest, always have been and always will be. If you can’t have it perfect you find a way not to do it. Remember, right now you have a 2 year old little boy who consumes your life (as all 2 yo kids do). This will change, he will get older and less dependent on you which intern gives you more time.

    Next, re-stating that change will not happen overnight. In my experience, making myself sit down and do a financial plan, work and work out schedule, etc that I would actually stick (and follow thru) to was extremely helpful. It calmed my life down for those aspects (it took at least a month to settle in). Also, leaving my situation, ie…taking a weekend ALONE (that means no phone calls or computer)to the woods or lake or what not, to think about my life, where I’m going, what I’ve done, and to just center myself in general proved to be good.

    I know that is harder for you, but sometimes there needs to be some me time before you can give time to others.

    But all in all nobody can give you the answers, you have to find what works for you. Here is also a little health advice…if your body is healthy, ie you do some cardio/strength workout everyday (it doesn’t have to be very long-30 min), it changes your whole mind set, for the better.

    Good luck and if you need anything at all just give me a call.

  6. dee dee

    lara – I hope you are right. I’m just not good at following through.

    cagey – I find it interesting that I am also looking and re-assessing at the age of 29. I just hope that the choices and changes I do make are the right ones and that years from now I can look back on them as positive things.

    amy – Girl, I’m not even sure what to say to you. Thank you for knowing me (better than I know myself sometimes) and for always being there. I am thinking a weekend at the lake to clear my head sounds pretty wonderful right now. 🙂

  7. Amy Amy

    I know. It would be so much easier if you could remember that I know all and that I am always right. It would sure make things go quicker and smoother. Peace out girl. HA HA HA HA! Later.

  8. I often get overwhelmed with my life like this too – and in those moments, I always tell myself to do just one thing. One nagging thing that is getting me down and then I celebrate the accomplishment when the day is done. The process of doing just one thing usually unlocks energy to do others – and eventually things get done. At least, that works for me. 🙂 Find joy in the little moments of every day like someone else previously said.

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