Happiness is not like our car keys

As a scientist (kinda-sorta) and just by virtue of me considering myself a logical person, I often say things like:

“If you don’t clearly define the problem, you will never be able to solve it”

I’m usually reacting to some situation that was shared. Typically, I would analyse it and decide that there was no resolution because they were treating the symptom and not the cause. In my eternal wisdom, I would blurt out a strategy that would have to work and would stand on its own by virtue of the solidity of the reasoning behind it. I wasn’t offering a band-aid, I was proffering a surgical solution that would be followed by a 6–8 week recovery period and months of physiotherapy. Like an idiot, I would often miss the fact that the person was not illogical, nor did they fail to consider the solutions that I was offering. And as though I was a snake that bit its own tail, I find myself in the same situation with myself. I know the solution but I am missing the critical key to the problem definition — the human condition.

Each of us, at any point in time, carry a state of consciousness, informed and guided by our life experiences, hurts, disappointments, fears, unhealed wounds. These altogether may cripple us as we attempt to turn the kayak we call our lives around. Well we think we are turning the kayak around when in fact it is a massive submarine and what we see as the kayak is literally the brushing of the surface. So we row. We put these ‘logical’ plans into action and we row. After our first bout of feverish rowing and recognizing that the kayak is exactly 4 inches from the start point on our 6 mile journey, we decide that we need to row harder. We double up the rowing, increase the rowing periods and decrease the rest breaks. We then find that this take us about 3 feet. This is progress! It is progress but we have 5 plus miles to go and our arms and souls are exhausted. We then begin to dream of motorized engines, stronger arms, more people in the kayak *rolls eyes* among other scenarios that we feel will get us there. So what is the problem here? The problem is that we have failed to acknowledge the massive portion of our unit that is submerged. We have failed to deal with stuff we stored down there that is suffering from anaerobic decay. We expect to move at a speed that defies all the laws of physics, all the while exhausting our bodies and deflating our spirits. So what is the solution?

Hmmm…I dunno man. I think there a few things we can do:

1. Lighten the load

We need to get down there and let loose anything we don’t need that is slowing us down. And while it took us years to accumulate the junk, we are anxious to rid ourselves of it. It took time to build up and likewise it will take time to purge. There may even be some hazardous polymerization over time. Approach these areas with care but even a little lightening will make a world of difference.

2. Pace the Rowing

Make no mistake, rowing is good for you. It strengthens your arms and improves your lung capacity but as the Jamaican proverb says “Too much ah anyting good fi nutten”. In other words, even things that are purportedly good can have ill-effects if overused (think prescription painkillers). As we take on life’s challenges and try to steer our lives in the desired direction, we must pace our rowing. Everyone’s row pattern will vary. The pattern is irrelevant. Even the pace is not critical. Putting down the oars indefinitely is strictly forbidden. Find your pace, determine your pattern but never give up on the rowing.

3. Stop going to the hardware store for milk

I wish this was my line. This may be the single best piece of slap-in-the-face-knock-sense-into-you advice. There isn’t much to say about it. It kind of speaks for itself. Why go to the hardware store for milk? Why do we feel that we can convince the owners that there is a real market for a perishable beverage in their hardware store? Why do we think they should even stock it for our convenience? Why aren’t we concerned about the contamination in a less than hygienic hardware store? And why are we so afraid to go back in the car and drive to the damn grocery store and get the damn milk? Things that make you go hmmmm. #IKnowRight

4. Happiness is not like your glasses or your keys

There is a unique panic onset that is associated with the loss of certain items — car keys, eye glasses, credit cards. When you express your distress, a sympathizer is usually on hand to ask “Where did you have it last”? This brings me to yet another piece of slap-in-the-face-knock-sense-into-you advice. While it doesn’t have the ice-water quality of the former it also resounded with me as I was scrolling through Pinterest (an integral but not to be missed feature of my pity parties). When we have lost our happiness we look for it in the place we had last experienced it…

In our stubbornness and humanness, we keep looking for happiness in the same place we lost it. Just let that settle a bit. Where did you lose your happiness? What circumstance, person(s), job or scenario facilitated the loss? Are you still looking for happiness when in those circumstances, around that person(s), in the same job or finding yourself in similar scenarios. The problem is not that you still encounter these things. You probably cannot leave your job but you can stop expecting to find happiness there until you can change it.

The synopsis — change is possible. Be patient. Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge your baggage and deal with them. Be patient. Be kind to yourself. Set markers on your journey. Getting to 1 mile is a big deal if you have 1 mile less to go. Be patient. Be kind to yourself. Be patient. Be kind to yourself. Pour down a little love on you.

Peace, love and light!

From E’s desk

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