As a young girl, I observed my mother and father. Darlings, it was all about their attitudes. I never equated attitude with happiness. I was a child. As I matured into womanhood, it became very clear I began to emulate some of their attitudes. My mother was curious and pleasantly driven, my father took the high road. Their end-all gift: they knew the difference between short-term and long-term happiness. They realized: if you want to be happy, ‘you’ make it happen. My luck, I picked up on it.
The difference between short-term and long-term happiness
1. Short-lived: Gratification.
You drive your new car off the lot with a feeling of exuberance. You are drop dead happy, but after a time the exhilaration vanishes; you buy a “keeper” dress, you can’t wait to wear it but after a few outings and compliments, you are on to your next stylish sweater or pair of boots. You take the first lick off your ice cream cone on a hot summery day and feel euphoria or your friend informs you of a dynamite series on Netflix, and you can’t wait to click.
DARLINGS, SHORT TERM HAPPINESS FILLS OUR CUP, IS INSTANTLY GRATIFYING AND SHOULD BE ENJOYED, YET UNDERSTOOD: IT IS ABOUT ‘SOMETHING.’
2. Long term: A state of mind.
You master a musical instrument; you learn to ski, play bridge and needlepoint. You earn friendships, take courses, work at your marriage, take the high road, learn the English language, plan educational trips and are off to see the world; you exert yourself during work-outs and practice disciplined eating habits. You never ‘grow old’ whether you are 30 years old or 80 because your happiness comes from within your state of mind.
DARLINGS, LONG TERM HAPPINESS IS DECEPTIVE BECAUSE ‘YOU’ HAVE TO DO THE HARD WORK. IT IS CHALLENGING AND NO ONE IS COMPLETELY HAPPY GOING THROUGH THIS PROCESS BECAUSE IT IS ABOUT YOU…YOUR HARD WORK.
Once you succeed, you will know the feeling of long-term happiness.
MY MUSINGS ON LONG TERM HAPPINESS
I am not always in ‘happy mode’ when faced with a task that seems impossible or when a person frustrates me. Fortunately, my memories take me back to my parents’ attitudes. My mother’s “fight to the finish” and my father’s attitude of taking the high road.
I would like to share a story that will make me happy forever.
I was nominated as one of Chicago’s 50 FIERCE women over 50 and was told to answer the question: “Why I am Fierce over 50.” I have written over 1,000 stories over the past 4+ years and not one stumped me like this.
MY FIRST THOUGHT: I AM ANYTHING BUT A FIERCE WOMAN.
And so, I looked up the definition of “fierce” in the dictionary.
“Having or displaying an intense or ferocious aggressiveness.”
As women, we need to accept that we can be fierce, cunning and predatory.
MY THIRD THOUGHT: Go to the thesaurus.
Fierce: aggressive, cutthroat, competitive, intense, awful, relentless, ass-kicking!
MY FOURTH THOUGHT: WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO?
I had a weekend to figure out why I am fierce. I asked my friends over lunch why they were fierce. Every answer was negative. I spent hours at my computer dwelling on the topic. I spent hours thinking. I was unhappy and frustrated.
In the back of my mind, I knew when I figured out my answer I would experience inner happiness. This thought kept me going.
All of a sudden, I don’t remember why, I wish I could, my mind went into a positive mode and I typed the word fierce in front of everything positive I stood for as a woman over fifty.
Within five minutes, with my hands on my beloved keyboard, Orchid nuzzled into one side of me and my ultimate concierge nuzzled into the other side, the words poured out.
When I finished my assignment, I was happy. As I muse today, darlings, I am sustained with long-term inner happiness. That story (read it here if you missed it) is one of the best pieces I have written. Actually, my best.
LONG TERM HAPPINESS IS UP TO US, DARLINGS, AND IS OURS FOR THE TAKING AS LONG AS WE ARE WILLING TO STRUGGLE THROUGH THE PROCESS.
SHORT TERM HAPPINESS IS YOUR ICE CREAM CONE ON THAT HOT SUMMER DAY.
I think we should have both. Don’t you?