Tuesday, March 12, 2013

DIY Happiness

Revelation - that ray of light through the clouds

During my recent drive to Austin I hawked the odometer, seeing it quickly reach the mileage required for an oil change. This used to be a source of dread for me, because I wasn't the one who changed the oil, someone else in our house was in charge of that, and it usually didn't get done. This time though, I felt something bordering on excitement, and once I got back to Denton I immediately took it in for service. It got me thinking, why the change in my experience of this same little thing - an oil change.

The answer begins with one of the many life lessons from my Dad. That is, the importance of maintenance - vehicles, property, equipment - and taking care of what you've already invested in. This maintenance was a source of irritation in my past relationship because I felt it was "the guy" who was supposed to take care of this - like Dad did for Mom. Here I am living alone, and rather than feeling lonely for someone to take care of these things for me, I feel happy to be doing this for myself.

That was my revelation: Do for yourself what you wish others would do for you. I recognized that I have wasted too much time wishing that the good people I have loved would do certain things FOR me like call, change the oil in my car, recognize my good qualities or remind me about things. When you are in a relationship or live with someone it's so easy to let the things that need to be done in your world slip into being that other person's responsibility, and feel resentful when it doesn't happen.

After one year of living alone it is clear that if something is important to me, I will get it done, and if it doesn't get done it wasn't all that important to me. In actuality, that's how my life was before I lived alone, just my perspective and expectations were different. Taking responsibility in this way frees me up to enjoy, appreciate and receive all those other things that people do, say and are. These gifts could easily be overlooked if I am caught up in expecting them to read my mind and heart and meet my needs.

I am drawn to people like me, people who are kind, generous, helpful and loving. So, I'm not saying that I'm the only one that does anything in my relationships. Just that we each do what's important to us, and if you're lucky those things overlap with what those you love think is important too. These ways of being are our social capital - that we share with others, and can also lavish on ourselves.

I am not waiting for "that perfect person" to come in my life to fulfill all these real and idealized needs and wants. I don't have to wait or look for that because I am already that perfect person. This means that everyone I love is officially off the hook. It's my responsibility to find, identify and enjoy the qualities and actions of others that make me happy, and surround myself with people who bring the most joy, love and happiness to my life by just being themselves.

No comments: