I've realized recently that I haven't been allowing myself to be happy. I think I worry that I don't deserve it, so I spend my life trying to make myself worthy for happiness. But there's always something I could be doing better, some way in which I could improve-- so I don't allow myself the luxury of happiness. The thinking is, of course, that if I allow myself to be happy I might stop progressing. And maybe that's why I think there are qualifications for happiness-- because I worry that if people are allowed to be happy despite mistakes that they've made and are making they won't have any motivation for becoming better, for righting the wrongs in their lives.
So I've been thinking a lot about what it means to "deserve" happiness. Is happiness something we earn? Does everyone have the right to happiness? Or are there some people who don't deserve to be happy? Does a murderer have the right to happiness? How about a mother who has deserted her children? Or the guy who flips off anyone who makes him mad while driving? Or the neighborhood gossip? Is it okay for her to be happy? And if there are some people who don't deserve to be happy, what exactly are the qualifications for happiness? I've been taught my whole life that happiness is a natural consequence of making good choices-- but nobody is perfect. So how many good choices add up to happiness?
On the other hand, it's possible that good choices spring from happiness. Alfred Adler taught that children who feel good about themselves make better choices. I believe this applies to adults as well. Perhaps if you allow yourself happiness you will desire to make good choices. If a person were truly happy and at peace with herself, she wouldn't want to murder or leave her children or flip off people or gossip.
For sure, happiness is also a choice. I think you can make all the good choices in the world and still choose to be unhappy.
So while I am certainly not perfect, I don't think I have done-- or am doing-- anything so terribly egregious so as to have disqualified myself from happiness. So maybe I will allow myself a little. Besides, you can't give your children something you don't have-- and ALL I want for my children is their happiness.
Again, I'm reminded of the resolutions I came up with earlier this year:
I wrote these and then stopped thinking about them. I made a few steps towards delegating, which did relieve a little of my stress. But I think it's time to start thinking about them again, more seriously this time.
I'm gonna be happy, dammit.