I am struggling with happiness.
This is not to say I’m unhappy, but happiness comes in many layers and my own happiness is missing one. This is hard to admit when you’re basically a happy person with no reason to be unhappy. After all, I’m in a loving relationship. I have a job which has allowed me to move across the country. I live in a beautiful house on the bay. I have new friends, old friends and even childhood friends in my life. My family accepts and loves me. I am blessed with good fortune in countless ways. So why am I struggling?
Perhaps my struggle is simply more pronounced because I’m reading The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin. Or perhaps I’m reading this book because my struggle exists. Either way, it led to me a brilliant insight this week.
“I can do ANYTHING I want, but I can’t do EVERYTHING I want.”
I left Alaska with so many things to do. After all, I can do anything. But I can’t do everything. There, I said it. I can’t do everything. I can’t work and cook every meal from scratch and explore my new surroundings and sign up for Tai Chi class and join a pool league and perform slam poetry in NYC and become a better photographer and write a daily blog and learn to play poker and find an art class and join a writing group and go swimming and learn to be a minimalist and write a book and… (inhale) you get the idea.
I’m exhausted just thinking about how long of a run on sentence I could create from all the ideas running around in my head. But I can do some things (which I’ve been doing). And I can beat myself up over the things I’m not doing (also guilty). Or I can accept that I can’t do everything, stop beating myself up and start doing the things I find most important.
And I have to begin by accepting that my blog will be different from what I first imagined. And this is okay. (The irony is, I now realize it hasn’t actually changed as much as I thought. But I’m getting ahead of myself.) At the beginning of my cross-country move I knew I was on an adventure where happiness was the driving goal. Simple, right?
Now enter Gail Palmer into the equation.
And so I planned to drive across country while performing slam poetry, introducing each audience to my happiness rules while also asking them about their happiness rules (insert deep breath) while taking pictures to chronicle my journey, posting daily to my blog then writing new slams and video taping them to add to my blog and eventually writing a book about the entire experience and all the while continuing to fall deeper in love with my new life and my new girlfriend and did I mention the part (insert another deep breath) about first selling my house and all my belongings and becoming a minimalist and changing almost every aspect of my life and how I live it in the process?
I know… there I go again running around and around in my head with all the things I could do. So I’m giving myself permission to accept that I can’t do it all. But I can return to the beginning and ask myself what this blog is really all about.
Of course, I already know the answer or I wouldn’t be writing. It’s about the search for happiness with a little slam poetry on the side. It’s about how I play this game called life. And how I play this game is with 10 rules guiding me. Rules which are well over ten years old and have always been there for me when I needed them. Rules I have shared with friends who to this day, still ask for reminders when they forget. Rules which guide my life, not rule my life. Rules which undergo changes, as they should, when I change my life or life changes me.
So in the coming days you may see me re-inventing this blog. But it’s not that it’s changing, I’m actually just clearing out the clutter in my head and getting back to the reason this all began. And in honor of my return to the beginning, I share with you my first slam poem. And in doing so, I share with you my rules. And in my life, they are…
And now this quarterback would love to hear from you. Do you play by your own set of rules? How are they similar or different from mine? What other words of wisdom would you put into prose?