Monday, December 14, 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness

As with most wedding receptions, guests are forced to suffer through numerous speeches with personal anecdotes that mean absolutely nothing to 99% of the people in attendance. Once in a while, we get the occasional comic who rustles up a few laughs. But beyond that, family and friends generally sit around picking at their plates, straining to maintain their plastic grins and feigned interest.  In contrast to what I have been trained to expect, there was one thing stated during a speech at a recent wedding that has resonated with me. The father of the bride coolly declared, mixed in with some other mushy stuff, that “there’s no such thing as happiness, just happy moments.”

Being that I have spent the greater portion of my life searching for the “happiness” that supposedly exists (yes, I even got the Japanese symbol for happiness tattooed on my back as a stupid 16 year old with a fake ID), this succinct idiom has put a new spin on everything I have been searching for. No happiness, huh? I wish someone had told me this before.

If there really is no such thing as happiness, which I could probably attest to, then I’m doing pretty well for myself. Meaning- in the “happy moments” department of my existence- I’ve accrued quite a few. Furthermore, when looking at my current status, I am sure that the proportion of happy to unhappy moments is distributed in a manner that quite favors the former part of the equation. 

I’m a pro-complainer. I’ve somehow inherited this lethal negativity with which I view my life. Some friends attribute it to the fact that I’ve done so much, that my threshold for excitement and satisfaction is too great. Others say it's the Jew in me. I’m not exactly sure what I should blame for this insatiable search for contentment- and the inability to oftentimes appreciate my current situation, but what I do know that I am continuously searching for something else. I am living one moment while waiting for the next- in hopes that I will find my happiness there, since it’s obviously not here. But then, if what this man said at the wedding is true, then I’ve actually found my happiness- I’ve had it all along. My happy moments have been amassed in abundance. 

I receive advice all the time. Of course this advice comes out of love and only good intentions, but it’s not easy to “just look at the bigger picture” or to “think about how much you have accomplished.” 

All sound guidance- but not very helpful, if you ask me.

Now, with this new knowledge that there really is no such thing as happiness- I can serenely revel in my “happy moments” and appreciate that no, it doesn't ever get any better than this.

In the beginning of the MBA, I made a few lists naming what I love about being here, the great moments in the MBA, and the advantages to living in Barcelona. Now, nearly a year later- this city has become familiar territory and school has morphed from something novel into something routine. And with this familiarization and passage of time- my happy moments have transformed and been modified into what makes me happy now- as a student finishing up her MBA, probably leaving Spain for a new country, and taking all the lessons I've learned and people I've encountered with me as little happy pieces of my happy moments right here, right now. 

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