Happiness, Please

Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth.  We are happy when we are growing.

~John Butler Yeats, 1909

Is there a difference between pleasure and happiness?

I had never really thought much about it until today.  My husband sent me an interview by Dr. Robert Lustig, who just recently published a book on this very topic.  He is actually quite well known for his stance against sugar and processed foods (which, as a side note, is something I wholeheartedly agree with) and it seems that this is where this topic stems from.

I encourage you to watch the interview HERE.  But if you don’t have the time, let me summarize his main idea:

Pleasure is not Happiness.  In fact, pleasure is the opposite of happiness.  Pleasure can never lead to happiness.

Does this seem counter intuitive?  Well, perhaps it is… until you understand the mechanisms in the brain that control these experiences.  One experience is rooted in need and addiction; the other stems from satisfaction and contentment.  Can you guess which one is which?

I’ll keep it simple, because this idea spoke to me today on very simple terms.  Pleasure is a quick fix that leaves as quickly as it comes: it always leaves you longing for more.  Happiness, on the other hand, is a state of being and can only be realized when you stop searching for that fix.

 

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Just Be With It

Yesterday was a bad day… It’s a really long story, the kind that requires knowledge of the background situation and a good handle of what my day-to-day job entails.

Originally, This blog entry included all the details of what happened. I decided to delete it all though, because it just made me feel so bad and I don’t want to give the situation that much power over me.

Ultimately, I received a poor evaluation for my last rotation before El was born. This shocked me for a number of reasons, but mostly because I felt that the rotation went very well and was no different than any other rotation I’ve done.  Also, at no point during the rotation did anyone tell me that they thought I was acting or performing so far below their expectations that I deserved to fail. In fact, I only ever got positive feedback from people.

I know this evaluation is inaccurate and untrue. I have my beliefs as to why this may have happened and I have started the process of appealing the evaluation. Regardless, it made me feel horrible about myself and it made me feel completely helpless in the face of the guy who seemed more than satisfied to give me a failing evaluation.

In light of my recent feelings of inadequacy at home, this certainly didn’t make me feel geat about myself at all.  I am trying to do a good job of everything in my life and I feel like I am falling short everywhere (even if I’m technically not). It just constantly feels like I’m doing something wrong.  This meeting completely ruined my day yesterday, and it ruined my night. I am trying hard not to let it ruin my whole week.  While this situation does need to be sorted out and rectified in some way, I’m going to try hard to just “let it be.”  There has to be something to learn from this situation.


(Thanks to a wonderful blogging friend who posted this image on that other big social networking site… I needed to see this today)

Unexpected Revelation

It was the Friday before Valentines Day and my Husband forwarded me an invitation over text message.  The invitation was from his clinic partner for his daughter’s “Dedication” on that Sunday at their Christian Assembly Church.  My husband asked me if it was something that we should go to.

We are not a religious family by any stretch of the imagination.  I was raised Catholic and I consider myself educated in the tenants of Christianity, as well as the basics of other major World Religions from classes I took in university.  My husband would identify himself as “agnostic,” although I would argue he falls more on the side of strong atheist.  We have had many arguments  discussions about how to raise our children when it comes to religion and I eventually just gave up on him.

In response to my husband’s question, I told him that it was something important to his partner and that it would be a nice gesture for us to attend.  So, he sent the RSVP to his friend and we prepared to attend a Sunday Church service together… for the first time ever.

It just so happened that on this weekend, my Mother was visiting us from out of town.  My Mother is on the complete opposite end of the religious spectrum from my Husband: She is a prophesied born again, Evangelical Christian who belongs to circles of self-proclaimed prophets and the likes.  I have worked very, very, hard to establish boundaries around religion when it comes to my Mom – and these do fail at most opportunities.  As you can imagine, my Mother was beaming when I told her we were attending a Christian Service that Sunday, and Of Course she would be honoured to attend the service with us.

Sunday morning after filling up on a rather rushed breakfast, we all piled into our SUV to drive across the city to the Christian Assembly Church.  I could feel my Mother’s smugness emanating from the back seat of the car and I was already beginning to worry about the conflict that would certainly arise following the service.  I hadn’t been to Church with my mother since I was a teenager and I had no choice but to go with her after the weekly reciting of the “My House, My Rules” speech.

I signed up the boys for the pre-school Sunday School class and we found ourselves some seats half-way down the congregation.  We stood during the Worship – My Mother on one side of me swaying to the music, with her arms open and giving praise, and my Husband on the other side, shifting his weight uncomfortably.  I felt a strange surge of emotion, knowing that my Mother was in her element while my Husband was just using every ounce of energy not to leave the service.  For me, the worship was exactly what I expected it to be: not foreign but not familiar.  Not uncomfortable by any means.

After the Worship we sat down and listened to a guest Pastor and his wife talk about Marriage.  That was the theme of the day – Marriage in the Bible, and how to apply it to the modern day marriage.  I found some of the information presented to be interesting and inspiring.  I resisted the urge to look over at my Mother, who was contently listening despite the fact that she has never been remarried and still hold significant resentment towards my father and her divorce from 25 years ago.  I was beginning to predict the criticisms I would hear later from my Husband.  Finally, the service was over.  We collected the boys from preschool class and piled back into the SUV to drive to the Dedication Brunch.

Silence.

We drove for a little while before my Mom started: “That was a beautiful Service, wasn’t it?  So much interesting information.  What did you guys think?” Why does she have to start these conversations?  I’ve been through this with her before.

“It was nice.” My husband replied.

I quickly shifted the conversation to ask the boys about what they did at the Sunday School – They talked mostly about crafts and playing with toys.  I was relieved that this strategy worked.  I said my own little prayer hoping that this would be the end of the “church discussion” between my Husband, my Mother, and I.

Thankfully that was it.  We enjoyed the brunch together, congratulated my husband’s co-worker on their daughter’s dedication, and proceeded to go on with our Valentines day.

Later that evening, as my Husband and I drove away from the house on our way to our Valentines Day date, he started the conversation:
“That Church service was interesting today.  I’ve never been to a Church that plays live music and has such relevant and modern sermons.  I think maybe I’ve misjudged the role of church.”

I tried to keep my eyeballs in their sockets!
This, coming from the man who absolutely refused to entertain the idea of sending out kids to Catholic school for fear of indoctrination!  Even with my efforts over all our years together to explain to him that religion/faith has a lot of offer, even if it is just learning the stories and parables in the Bible.  I told him, many times, that “God” can represent anything you want it to – it doesn’t have to refer to the Omniscient Creator, if you don’t want it to.  He never seemed to care… Until that Valentines Sunday, that is.

“As I was listening to the Pastor, I realized that even though he talked about God a lot, God can be anything you want it to be.  When I thought of it that way, what he said about Marriage seemed to be really good advice.”

So I can tell him that numerous times over the years of our courtship and Marriage, but he won’t believe it until we actually go to Church???

“I think there is a lot of value in what they were saying today.  I think, maybe, our family could benefit from doing something like this every week.

!!!

I almost fell out of the car!  “You mean, you want to start going to Church, every week?” I asked my Husband.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t mind giving it a try.”

And so, at the request of my beyond atheist, cynical Husband, we have been attending the Christian Assembly Church every Sunday since Valentines Day.