Five places a girl can find happiness in the midst of soul-drenched apathy

by on Monday, June 14th, 2010

It’s almost two thirty when I sign on the ancient AIM service, and unlike my teenage years, there’s only one name I hope appears tonight. And he’s there. We’ve been friends on and off for foreverish. It is, as you might say, no big thing. But he’s great, and I respect him more than I’d tell him (for fear of his ego inflating to the size of one of those inflated Thanksgiving day parade balloons.) In my wish-I-was-sleepy haze of non-thought, I try to think of a question to ask him. Something good. Something that will catch him off guard and remind him that I’m not all jokes. I have a heart and soul, man!

But it’s late and the only thing I can think of off the top of my head is “What do you want from life?” But I realize he’s the kind of guy who would answer it way too simply, and probably end up making the focus on the question I asked and not on his answer. (And he’d be right, the reason that question comes to my mind is interesting, my therapist would have one of those so-called field days if she didn’t already know that I’m an unhappy soul.) So, in the simplest context, what does anyone want from life? They want to be happy.

how to be happyIf people from Australia to Africa all just want to have happy lives, why do we all seem so different? (Cue: “Can’t we all just get along?”) And I don’t even mean culturally different. I always feel so isolated and unlike other people – be them neighbors or family members. And because I feel so different, I feel unaccepted. I’m one of those people who might start off an autobiography by admitting I’ve always been an outsider. There are too many of us. Why are we all outsiders in a world full of people who have so many similarities? And if an orangutan and a hound dog – two different species – can become best friends, why are so many of us fighting each other?

I suppose the answer to my question might be that there are far many more things that govern our minds than just the idea of happiness. But if you throw out the specifics of a life, shouldn’t the main goal (which we’re agreeing is happiness, for the moment) be the most important thing? The foundations are key, whether in building a house or a life. Whether you go about being happy from being on American Idol or having a ton of daughters – isn’t what matters the reason you did those things? We want whatever we think will make us happy. And is it wrong to want those things? I don’t think so. (As long as they don’t harm anyone else.) It might be dangerous to have goals that, if you don’t reach, you set your mind to decide you won’t be happy. But if you have other ways of being happy, having something you desire is a key component of staying happy. I don’t know why that is, but I do know there are a whole hell of a lot of quotes about why we need to want something. I guess we’d become complacent, otherwise.

I don’t know what makes you happy. But I’ve worked hard to find happy things the past few days. Here’s what I uncovered from a life I would have otherwise labeled as full of boring, soul-drenched apathy that looks less appealing than the contents of a fraternity’s communal fridge. I know this is a shopping blog, but I want you guys to get to know me a little bit better. And I’d love to hear back feedback from you guys, too. Sometimes it’s lonely on the Internet, and there’s so much mindless and pointless chatter that it’s hard to find places where people will just talk honestly, gal-to-gal.

celebrate life every day

Here’s where I found happiness in five places:

1. Remember my quest to decide which Nike sandals to get? Well, I decided to get one pair for myself, and one for my Mom (even against her protests). I got us the same kind (Nike Solarsoft Women’s Thong), but hers are orange/white and mine are purple/black. Even though I worked hard to save up all my Coke points, and have realized I feel the flip flops are uncomfortable for meĀ  because of how the straps go under your feet and rub your arches or something (and returning them would cost me waaaay too much to make it worth it – the cost for Nike shipping was ridiculous, dude) my Mom LOVES hers, and she doesn’t even normally like flip flops. She’s going on a trip to visit my sister, and has packed them. I’m really glad she loves them.challenge blogs

2. Shopdog is getting older, and has been sick on and off. Sometimes she can’t make it to walk to the park, but I know she loves it there. I took her there on Monday, and instead of just walking her I sat her down in the field to watch people playing tennis. There was sun for the first time in a week, and a really delicious breeze. Shopdog rolled around and was pretty visibly happy. When I can make any animal happy, I’m happy.

3. I was named as one of the 25 top TV fans from TheWrap.com (@ssscoop which is me, @thisjessicarae – and yes I’m ALSO @shessmart and I’ll follow anyone who follows me and isn’t just a spambot), and since I’m also a freelance writer who specializes in writing about TV, that was a big compliment. The downside was that I didn’t get to partake in the Ellen Degeneres conference call that day. Still, it’s nice when you’re recognized by people you didn’t think were watching or paying attention. I have a hard time tooting my own horn, so to speak. But it’s good to step back and look at your accomplishments and acknowledge when you’re acknowledged. The Huffington Post linked to a review I’d written of Weeds once, and you know what? It felt pretty damn fabulous.

4. There is the possibility of horses! I’ve only ridden horses twice in my life – for Girl Scouts! I love them, though. And I mean, I really love them. When I was little I would consistently check out this giant book on horses, an stare at the pictures while trying to memorize facts. Anyway, my parents know someone who owns two horses, and there is a possibility I’ll get to go visit to see the horses. As someone who geeks out when I’m driving in the country and see horses or cows…you can only imagine how thrilled I am to see them up close.

how to love life5. My best friend is coming to see me for two days in a row. We happen to love to eat at iHop (she’s a vegetarian and sometime’s a vegan,so it’s great when we find a place we both agree is awesomesauce) and I have amazing coupons we can use. (It pays to go through those coupon thingys in the newspaper!) For the record, I usually order the spinach and mushroom omelet and she gets crepes. I really cherish my best friend, who I met in the 8th grade after my parents moved me to a new city I firmly did not want to be a part of. We were both in choir, and both unwilling (far too insecure) to do more than lip sync to the weird songs we were supposed to perform. While her and I total opposites, the one thing we have in common at all times is the ability to talk to each other about anything. That’s important. And even if you only have one person you can do that with, that’s something to value very highly.

And you know what? There’s more little things.

For instance, I love the way my Mood-Lites work, and I also got confirmation we will be able to run a giveaway with them in October. (Speaking of giveaways, I get to review some cheesecake from Eli’s Cheesecake, and there will also be a giveaway of that for you guys!)

My new favorite food? CRAB LEGS. I’ve never not liked them, but recently I’m just aaall about them! If I have some later this week, I’ll have had them twice in a week. I really wish I could be back in Cape Code (where I was a grand total of: ONCE, for a wedding) and eating fresh seafood right on the ocean.

I’m reading a really good book, and when I’m reading a thoroughly enjoyable book I feel like I’m fulfilling some quota to myself to read as many good books as possible in my lifetime. This time it’s Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver.

I feel very proud of my recent post for She’s Smart: How to celebrate life everyday with positive affirmations for women so I hope you give it a read.

deal on wiiRemember how I was thinking about getting a Roku? And then I wrote the piece You tell me, am I ready to become a gamer girl? So I was ALL CONFUSED? Well, now that Wii can stream to Netflix, and there’s a fantastic deal on black or white Wii’s where you get a bundle with Wi Sports, Wi Sports resort, a nunchuck and a motion sensor…I’m gonna buy one of those! And I think I will get the We Cheer game (or We Cheer 2) and maybe We ski and snowboard, Mario Kart, Walk it out which actually has a great review if you watch this youtube clip, Boogie SuperStar. Heh. I have to make up for years of not playing video games, okay!? That’s how I’m rationalizing it! (UPDATE: I got a Wii and I LOVE IT!!! And there’s a Glee Wii game coming out in the fall! I’ve also used my Wii for Netflix and it worked perfectly.)

I’m also excited to see that Will Arnett and Keri Russell are in a new FOX show next fall, which is called Running Wilde (previously Wilde Kingdom). So, there’s always little things to be happy about, and mentioning them to yourself is a good way to remind yourself to be grateful and blah blah – you know the rest.

daily challenge blog

I’m sure you could guess what your challenge is today, I want you to really try to make note of any small things that bring you happiness. And rather than be passive about it, make some of them happen. For instance, I didn’t particularly want to take Shopdog for a long walk, but I’m glad I did it.

Now, for no reason other than it’s upbeat, listen to the Glee cast performing “Jump”!

Illustrations by Noemi Manalang.

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