more on happiness- a quick book review

Since the talk of town seems to be happiness I’m going to chime in for a minute.  Actually, I am going to let Eric Weiner chime in.  I finally finished his book “The Geography of Bliss” and I have to say I learned a lot.  He’s laugh out loud entertaining and soberingly profound all at the same time.  He traveled the globe looking for answers as to what conditions, attitudes, culture, etc make for a happy country.  I found it an adventure as it was like traveling myself.  Anyway,  I highly recommend it, but if you don’t want to read it I’ll wrap it up nicely for you.

In the end he concludes –

“only a fool or a philosopher would make sweeping generalizations about the nature of happiness.  I am no philosopher, so here goes: Money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think.  Family is important.  So are friends.  Envy is toxic.  So is excessive thinking.  Beaches are optional.  Trust is not.  Neither is gratitude.

To venture any further, though, is treacherous waters.  A slippery seal, happiness is.  On the road, I encountered bushels of inconsistencies.  The Swiss are uptight and happy.  The Thais are laid-back and happy.  Icelanders find joy in their binge drinking.  Moldovans only misery.  Maybe an Indian mind can digest these contradictions, but mine can’t.  Exasperated, I call one of the leading happiness researchers, John Helliwell.  Perhaps he has some answers.

‘It’s simple,’ he says.  ‘There is more than one path to happiness.’ “

 

the strings that pull my heart – part 2

Here is the second worksheet if you are interested.  It’s very easy, all you are going to do is transfer answers from the first.

This sheet is titled “Unconscious Relationship Agenda”

#1  I am trying to find and/or get a spouse who will be:

Here you will list the positive traits you circled from section A (page 1)

#2 But I won’t really fall in love unless he/she also has at least some of these traits

Here you list the circled traits from section B

3. In my marriage/relationship I will struggle to get my spouse/partner to have only the positive traits so that I can finally get an adult version of

Insert unmet needs from section C

4. In my marriage/relationship I will sometimes tend to stop myself from getting these needs met by doing an adult version of these behaviors.

Insert responses from third column of section D

 

This worksheet, especially 3 and 4 really helped me see the cyclical pattern of my frustrations.  Also, I can see why I react/overreact so strongly when I feel like the things I need so badly are threatened.  Even if it’s just my perception.   I don’t know how much help it is in the moment, as I am currently in the midst of overreacting to something.  I can’t seem to talk myself out of it.

the strings that pull my heart – part 1

 

 Brad and I had our 12th wedding anniversary last May.  I  can’t remember if I told you all back then, but anyway, there it is.  And I thought about those 12 years, and how I’d always expected that our relationship would grow steadily, in an upward trend, with maybe a few bumps here and there.  But that is not the way it happened at all.  Our most miserable time was three years into it while I was pregnant the first time.  After my son was born life was remarkably better, and even better still after child number two.  Since then it’s been up and down.  Actually, since then we’ve seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  Our relationship seems steady to me now, except that I still have this complaint, or this hole in my heart that refuses to be filled, this unmet need, or this need that refuses to be met.

It’s unfortunate that we are in a place in our lives where it’s even harder to fill now.  Demanding home life with kids, demanding job that sucks out his energy.  There is little left to give at 9pm when it’s sort of quiet.  I think that I was drawn to ttwd because it oozed of interaction, attention, focused attention and love.  Even when we were dating I yearned for the kind of attention that I could never quite describe or explain, and I don’t know if I got if I would recognize it.  I wanted to feel loved and wanted above everything else.  Throughout our marriage there have been many times when I’ve wanted to, or have, said “Pleeeasssse, just pay attention to me.  I don’t know what that means, or what it looks like, but I need something else from you.  I am so lonely”.  I sound sad, broken, unfixable, to my own ears.  It kind of makes me sick. 

A while ago I talked about how my therapist said that we all tend to marry people that have some of the best and worst characteristics of our parents.  She gave me a set of work sheets that came from a seminar she was at once about this type of thing.   There is also a book, I can’t remember the name of the author or the book, sorry.  I am going to tell you how to do the worksheet and you can do it if you want to, or not.  I found these worksheets to be…I’m not sure how to describe the experience other than I looked at something that I’d heard before in a different way and it was a breath of fresh air.  Therapist said that most people have this reaction.   Brad and I did the two worksheets separately and then talked about it together later.  I do recommend that you do all of worksheet one before you even look at the second.  I am only going to give you the first one today anyway.  This page was labeled Brief Relationship Workup.

So if you want to do it, here is what you do…

A. Across the top of a paper write  Mother, Father, and Other if applicable.  Underneath those columns you write down the positive traits of characteristics or your primary caretakers. For ex, warm, loving, sense of humor, intelligent….  When you are done circle the five most significant/impactful traits- the ones that had the most impact on you.  Don’t worry if you can’t pick 5, just pick up to 5.

B. Now make the same columns again underneath… mother, father….  This time under each list negative traits or characteristics of your caregivers.  Use words like never there, critical, anxious, angry…..  Again circle top five impactful traits.

C. List three things you needed most and didn’t get from your caretakers.  (Such as more time, acceptance, encouragement…)

D.  You will have three columns again:  Childhood frustrations, What you felt, What you actually did.  Underneath each column going across list three different frustrations…

For ex. my number one was 1. parents didn’t explain/talk about important life changing events/decisions   1. I felt frustrated, angry, alone 1. I cried, withdrew and argued

So you go across like that for three separate frustrations. 

The next post will be the second worksheet.  If you do this I encourage you to try to be really accurate with your answers, it will make the second exercise that much more meaningful.  Later I will share more of my answers.