This week I have been having a hard time trying to stay cheerful. I admit it. I actually get depressed at times. Depressing to even talk about it or to admit it but as a human being, it happens. Are we actually meant to be happy all of the time? My mother always talked about being content…. she always talked about “the riches of contentment.” I never liked her being satisfied with that as her great wish … just content? I wanted to be happy, thrilled with life and excited about the future. I was always searching for bliss! Why set your goal on contentment when you can strive for bliss? How could my mother want to settle? In my twenties every man I ever knew always said that I used to smile all of the time. In college I know I used to laugh a lot and I really don’t laugh much any more. My grandmother used to say that when you get older you don’t laugh as much but you don’t cry as much either. Not sure that is true …. however, I know I don’t laugh as much. Frankly, I always had a suspicion that people who act perfectly happy all of the time are either pretending or they aren’t very intelligent, or I have seen some very happy people who are only centered directly on themselves and never really consider others. Totally self-centered and maybe a little bit on the stupid side, these people, in my view, are perpetually happy.
I casually knew a woman who was always, perfectly happy. She never worried about her children or her husband or her grandchildren. She would visit her children constantly and never seemed to notice their problems. One son had almost died and one family member was very ill, one of her children was getting divorced. She smiled and talked about her clubs, her church, only what she was doing. She never asked anyone a question about himself or herself, ever. This went on and on. Two of her children died, her husband died and she smiled and kept up inviting herself over to dinner. Her daughter’s spouse died. She kept on breezing through life. When she died she even died at a time when it was a hugely inconvenient for everyone. I believe she never had a day in her life when she was depressed for more than a moment or two. However, did she have a full life? Maybe? Did she have deep feelings? I don’t think so. Did she learn anything in her life? Maybe that isn’t important? I do think she was pretty happy her whole life.
Envied Their Happiness
There have been people in my life that I knew slightly and couldn’t help noticing from a slight distance, that I admired and yes, also envied. There was a woman whose son was in my son’s first grade class. We both waited each day for our son’s at the end of the day. She was very pretty, very high cheekbones with long hair and dressed in casual but perfectly chic clothes. She volunteered to accompany my son’s class on a weeklong camping trip. My husband also volunteered and he told me that every night she had a new gourmet dinner prepared for the group. Her husband was rich and famous. One night we had some good friends who invited my husband and me to a charity dinner in Aspen. It was a grand affair. Each table cost thousands of dollars to reserve. Sitting across from our table was this woman with her children, her in-laws and her rich, famous, husband. At the dinner it was announced that her husband in the name of his wife and family had made a further donation of $100,000 to the charity. I couldn’t help being envious and well slightly jealous of this perfect wife, mother and family. They looked like perfection to me. You can imagine my surprise when a few months later I heard that this woman had left her husband and her children and moved in with her trainer. The man who had made sure her figure fit into those chic, expensive, clothes. This woman wasn’t the only person I envied.
There was a woman who was the mother of eight. Her husband was a famous lawyer. This man adored his wife and children. She was a very pretty and she was a very tiny woman. She didn’t look like the mother of eight children. She volunteered for everything. Once we were both at a dinner with a large group of people at a friend’s home. After dinner there she was clearing the table and doing the dishes for the hostess. Her husband stood behind her and gave her a big hug. I looked at them as another perfect family. The last time I saw them they were searching for the perfect private high school for their son. I toured the school by myself and decided this school wasn’t right for my son. The school was a boarding school. I didn’t want my son to live away from me. Whatever this couple did, they did together. I thought this woman had a perfect life as a perfectly happy mother, wife and volunteer. Imagine my surprise when I heard that she left her darling, rich, husband and her eight children to run off with the man who had installed the blinds in her very expensive, large, mansion.
Depression is Normal
So maybe perfect happiness doesn’t exist. Maybe all of the people you think are perfectly happy and blissful really aren’t. Maybe it is all an illusion? Maybe we should be content, as my mother would say, with moments of happiness and moments of bliss. Maybe the people who are really perfectly happy all of the time are missing out on real life? I can’t help worrying some of the time and feeling occasionally depressed when life throws you a few problems or a few curve balls. I’m human so I do occasionally feel envy. There are problems in life this is normal, so deal with the depression. Pour yourself a big glass of wine … order a delivery of Egg Rolls and Egg Foo Yong and get on with life. That’s what I’m going to do.
Until Next Week…