Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Are YOU Happier Than You Think You Are?

I found this article on the 9 signs you’re happier than you think really interesting. Sometimes life gets so busy, we don’t think about if we’re really happy or not. Or, maybe more accurately, how happy we are. I know I’m happy to have my husband, baby, family…even my crazy puppy! I am blessed to have a house and a job. But those things take up so many mundane minutes of your life, you don’t think about it. Hmmm…I’m really happy.

Anyway, the signs that you’re happier than you think are:

1. You were a smiley student

2. You have a sister

3. You’re not glued to the TV

4. You keep souvenirs on display

5. You make exercise a priority

6. You have a healthy love life

7. You hang out with happy people

8. You stay warm with hot cocoa

9. You have two best friends

For me some are better than others. I don’t have a sister, but I do have people in my life who have taken that role. I definitely watch too much TV. But I have a few best friends in my life who have been there through thick and thin, and my mantle is full of souvenirs, including these guys (wax animals I got at the zoo on an early date with Scott).

The one that made me stop and think was #7. This is something that has drastically changed in my 30s. In my 20s, I desperately wanted to fit in. I didn’t really find my place in high school after switching schools halfway through. I was a guppie in a huge pond in college. I found my friends and I had people who loved me, but I was always desperate for attention.

My first job in my 20s happened to have a host of new graduates like myself. There was a group of maybe 5 or 6 of us, and they were the “cool girls.” They had a line on all the cool places, all the new drinks, wore only the best clothes. And for once, they liked me. I wasn’t outside looking in, I was part of them. Or trying to be.

To me, it was like something out of a sitcom or a book…I was a young single girl about town! And I got very caught up in it. I never thought if I liked the girls. They liked me, or seemed to, so I bought into the group mentality.

About a year in, two things happened. The first was that we started to splinter within the clique. There was one girl in particular that the other girls would tell me was too full of drama. My intense fear of being the one they talked about next led me to oust her just as quickly as the others.

Then 9/11 came and a few of my friends’ jobs were threatened by the economic downturn. They began talking about our company as a sinking ship and sought to drag me down with their rhetoric.

I didn’t think I paid it any mind, but eventually I noticed I was less happy at work, that I started looking for holes in the sinking ship. And eventually I moved on. It wasn’t a bad career move, but it was definitely motivated by some of the wrong things.

I’m embarrassed to say my desire to be liked continued, and maybe even got worse, after I returned to my childhood town in my mid-20s. I met a girl who I thought was really cool. She just seemed to have a personality, something I just still didn’t feel I had. I just wasn’t sure there was anything discernible about me. But there was about this girl and when she reached out to me as a friend, I jumped at the chance.

I have a confession. When I meet someone I admire, or want to be friends with, I get total verbal diarrhea. I don’t know why I do this. I just start telling my life story without thinking. And it’s obvious that I want someone to lead me. I tend to imprint like a baby duck on a mommy duck…or a random monkey, whoever will lead me.

From day 1 she was very negative about dating and work. I followed her advice to the letter like a good little duckie, and looking back I sabotaged myself in both areas. She filled me with distrust and dislike for other people, and I never saw it coming because she embraced me at a time when I really needed new friends who liked me for whoever I thought I was becoming. Now, of course I was responsible for my own actions. But I let her lead me down a road of such self-protection that I faced the world with my arms crossed. Her approval was emotional currency for me, and I was getting rich!

In fact, before our friendship took an abrupt turn, I had met Scott and he later told me that he felt I was not at all interested in him. The truth was, of course, that I was! I liked him a lot, and I saw him as great long-term potential (hey, I was self-conscious, not stupid!). But I had studied Negative Nelly and learned not to tip my hand that way so early on. So I went in thinking I was aloof when in fact I was frosty.

Fortunately for me, our friendship ended shortly after that when I expressed my feelings about a topic she was not at all interested in hearing about…basically, her negativity about relationships and how she approached them. I hadn’t really let go of a close friendship like that before, and I realized how important it was to actually cast people out my life. I tried very hard to keep the relationship and I was rebuffed repeatedly, until I realized how much work I was putting in to a friendship that really hadn’t done anything for me except make me view the world as a rebel force out to get me.

Since that time, I have been very careful to surround myself with happy people. Now, I don’t run around with a bunch of Suzy Sunshines, don’t get me wrong. We have real lives, and so real feelings. But they are people who mostly view the good in life, and in people. And when they face the world, they do so with arms wide open.

So, are you happier than you think you are? Do you agree with this list?


Kristen said...

I'm sure I'm happier than I think. I know sometimes I dwell on the sadness or the not so lucky things but I know that honestly I live a good life! I'm like you, I've had many "wrong" friendships that are now ended. I'm glad that those ended before my life was taken into not so great directions!

Amanda said...

This is really interesting because I have a similar situation with your second friend. I met her back in college and we were tight. She moved and I got married and we still talked daily on IM, talked on the phone, etc. Then I started noticing she was always negative, really just a sour person to be around. She was dragging me down, but I never said anything to her bc I was afraid it would affect our friendship. So, stupidly, I would talk about her to mutual friends. She ended up finding out and it broke my heart. Soon after that (within days of finding out she was mad at me) she emailed me and poured her heart out, said she had been in a bad place for a long time and she'd starting going to church and accepted God back into her life, and that she prayed about it a lot and realized her life would be sadder without me in it. Since then our friendship grew so much stronger. i don't know what I'd do without her.

All that is saying, sometimes there are people in this world with issues, and we can' tlet their issues interrupt our happy lives. I have a sister, I watch too much TV, too, and I am guilty of not stopping to think about my happiness, but I do know I'm pretty happy!

kathryn said...

Huh. I just have to say, I love this line: "Her approval was emotional currency for me, and I was getting rich!" What an excellent line.

No, I do NOT agree with this list. I do agree that happiness breeds happiness and it's important to try and stay positive and to surround ourselves w/other positive thinkers.

But, I think it's everything in moderation...there's no one cardinal rule to happiness. Sometimes we watch tv...some of us don't have sisters...it's how we perceive our lives that matters.

And I hear you on the "wanting to be liked". I'm sorry...I don't think you ever outgrow that.

Stephanie in Suburbia said...

Amanda: It's so great you gave someone a 2nd chance. I did have that option with this friend and I decided to sleep on it, and what I found was that I wasn't losing any sleep not giving her a 2nd chance. I felt she had too much power over me and to get back into it, even if she had changed, would be a challenge for me.

Kathryn: It's definitely a good point about perception. And probably never outgrowing the juvenile desire to fit in :) Although at least I feel now I wouldn't compromise myself to do it the way I did before.

MsBabyPlan said...

Thanks so much for sharing this post in the Thoughtful Wednesday blog hop.

When we are surrounded by negative people we view the world in a negative way. Taking charge of our own life and following our instincts make us bigger and we end up in the right path.

Two year before I married my Hubby a friend said "Why do you leave him? You are living so far away."

I made sure that after that summer I stopped going out with her as a friend.

Thanks again for linking up, I hope you will come back again next week and maybe add the button so other people who might want to join in.

I am looking forward to read more thoughtful posts.:)