At The Song Workshop, I often ask the question, “what do you want?”. I almost always get the same answer, “…I just want to be happy”. Understanding that the thing we want, is also the thing we perceive we don’t have, my response to that answer is, “… so, am I correct in assuming you are not happy now?” . The responses vary, but all in all, happiness ends up becoming this elusive distant opportunity off in the future, promising so much, should we ever actually attain it. We have given “happy” a great deal of power, not to delight us, but to shame us, continually believing “happy” is the thing other people have. It isn’t just that we perceive happiness to be something others have, it’s that we perceive it to be something we DON’T have, something we don’t get to have, something that lives in a place we may or may not get to, one day, far away, in a very distant future. The idea of becoming happy, but not actually being happy keeps us in a perpetual state of “want”, which wears on our souls, until it wears us out.
I have often wondered, if we want to be happy so much, then why aren’t we? As Sheryl Crow sang, “If it makes you happy, why the hell are you so sad?”
I would not have stumbled upon the answer to this question were it not a part of my own story. However, what I discovered shocked me, for myself and for others.
We are not happy, because we want to be sad.
It would make sense if at this point you are thinking, “what in the world is wrong with this woman?” However, along the way, I have discovered we are more familiar with being in want, than we are with having the thing that we want, and therefore it isn’t that sadness wins, it’s that familiarity does. Our brains are like roadways. Happiness is a tiny dirt road, bumpy and kicking up dirt. Wanting, sadness, struggle, victim, that road, is paved highway, easy to travel. We become so identified with our story, that we have no idea how to be anything else. We then settle for the resting point of, “I want to be happy,” instead of “I am happy”. Try it, just say to yourself, “I am happy.” A twinge of discomfort might arise, a strangeness. It’s unfamiliar and odd to break up with the story that keeps us in a constant state of victim.
For so long I let myself live out the story that I am the girl whose family fell apart, whose single, who “wants” children, who “wants” marriage, who “wants” to sing, who “wants” to heal, but who is simply broken hearted. I had the boyfriend who wouldn’t marry me, the job that didn’t pay well, the songs that weren’t getting cut on records. I was the one who went to all family events as the “single” girl. I had trauma story from childhood that lived within me, almost more alive than I was. Until one day, sitting in my therapist office, I said “NO MORE”. In that moment I decided, no matter how strange it feels, I will not continue living out the story where I star as the victim.
Within months I was engaged, married, and pregnant. I became the director of music services at Onsite. I birthed beautiful twin girls, who are like waking up to sunshine everyday. My job made considerations for me to be with my girls and pursue my passion! Life began to look a lot different than it had. However, I noticed something… my next chapter was unexpectedly about letting myself truly enjoy all the blessings that had come.
Crazy as it sounds, I woke up one morning, my cup running over, and thought:
“NOTHING’S WRONG,” which caused me to panic. My entire first 40 years had been overly identified with struggle. Here I was, actually, here I am, a little shocked by the reality of goodness! Ok, a lot shocked. I’ve taking to reminding myself by practicing a daily mantra, reminding my spirit of the choice I am making. My new mantra is:
“I am ready for a new story. I am happy. All is well. All shall be well. I am at peace.”
Apparently I’m not the only one. Gathering with a group of women at The Song Workshop, we discovered the attachment to heartache and struggle was a common story for us all. They, like me, decided it was time for a new story. So we got off our highway of sadness and started out on our dusty unpaved unfamiliar road of happiness.
Here is our song
sending you love wherever you are in the world, Tyler