Friday, June 14, 2013
The Happiness Myth
This is what I grew up believing, that if I wasn't happy, I should pretend I was. If I was in a miserable marriage, I should pretend the marriage was perfect. If I was having difficulty parenting, pretend everything is perfect. If I was unhappy being a stay at home Mom, fake being happy.
I should NOT, under any circumstances, get a divorce. I should endure the misery and then find my happiness in the next life. This made no sense to me. God really wanted me unhappy? Was happiness that elusive?
The Mormons believe that living the gospel is the one and only way to happiness. Yet, living the gospel is a very elusive thing, as I would learn. To live the gospel, a person must:
* read their scriptures, oh, but you must read them every day, but not only everyday, but with a meditative mind, seeking understanding and insight, open to the holy ghost, with the understanding that they are true and from god and any other answer simple isn't possible
*pray, oh, but not just pray, but in the morning, in the evening, say family prayers, couples prayers, with a mind that is focused and open to the promptings of the holy ghost
*have family home evenings, every Monday, have some fun activities, but teach your children the teachings of the church
*be modest, in thought, in word, in deed. Wear the temple garments day and night
*attend church, not just at Christmas time and Easter, like other religions, or once a month, but every Sunday. Be reverent, don't eat snacks, attend all 3 hours, don't be distracted by electronic devices, pay attention, listen, be reverent, set a good example for the children
*do your church calling, do it with excellence. Lengthen your stride. Never turn down a church calling. Never question whether a church calling is meant for you
* Never question your church leaders, from the general authorities, down to the bishop. When the bishop asks your teenage daughter if she has anal sex, do not question his motives.
*attend the temple, even if it is bat shit crazy, attend anyway. Even if it seems cult-like to dress up in bakers hats and robes and do secret handshakes and mimic cutting your throat, attend anyway.
*visit teach the women and home teach the families, then tattle tale on them to the leaders. Visit families that ask to not be visited, ignore boundaries and the families wishes to not be visited
The list goes on...and a person is to find happiness within all this and more. If a person isn't happy, then they are doing something wrong. Maybe they visited their family on the end of the month instead of on the first of the month. Maybe they turned down that nursery assignment. Maybe they just couldn't attend the temple that month because doing secret handshakes was just too much that month.
When I left the church, I found that happiness is not so elusive and I didn't have to fake it. If I was unhappy, that is okay. If I was angry, that is okay, too. None of my emotions are bad or good, they just are, they just exist. I don't have to fake any of them. By embracing each one as they come, I deal with them, I figure out why I'm angry, I face the reason why, I deal with it, find a solution, and life is that simple.
I have found that happiness is also not so elusive or difficult to attain.Happiness is quite simple. Sitting quietly with my kids watching TV or having a discussion about feminism; having my lover's arm around me after sex; looking at the beautiful colors of a sunset; having a good day at work; all these things make me happy. I have found that each day, I find happiness in something, and it is often something small that brings happiness.
Happiness isn't a mystery or a goal, it is product of living life.