Lucy Lemay Cellucci

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The Happy Wankers Club

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I have this friend. For the purpose of this essay, I’ll pick a completely random name for her, like “Yvonne”. Yvonne is a busy lady who manages to juggle a full-time career, five children and various activities for the children. She has a happy marriage, a lovely home, and as if that weren’t enough to deepen the crease between your eyebrows, she also has a thriving and fulfilling social life full of people who love her. And, she’s an accomplished dragon boater – an activity that deeply engages her.

Perhaps you too know an Yvonne. The Yvonnes of the world shine brilliantly, no matter what the weather forecast calls for. They have fulfilling relationships and raise good kids. They use proper manners. They experience “job satisfaction”. They follow through on things (I also suspect they floss and recycle).

In other words, they’ve got their stuff together.

On some days coming face to face with Yvonne’s shiny status updates and social media pictures makes me feel as if I have somehow taken a wrong turn in the game of life.

I am convinced that the nagging voice of discontentment that heckles me from a balcony tucked far back in my brain’s amygdala is a direct result of something that I have either done or failed to do. Once that wretched little wanker (my brain’s amygdala, not Yvonne, who, by the way, loves to use the word wanker) who governs my emotions sees that I’ve bought into this scheme, she promptly leans over to the seat next to her and whispers to her friend, hippocampus, that she’s successfully gotten under my skin. Sadly for me, hippocampus can be just as spiteful and loves to use her connections with her colleague, hypothalamus, to really get the pot stirring. Hypothalamus, not one for wasting time, sends a tweet with lightning speed to the adrenal and pituitary glands, asking them to Fedex a shipment of cortisol along the neural pathway of my body’s stress response, a.k.a “Highway to Hell”.

Inevitably, all of this cortisol-shipping and hippocampus-wanking produces a less than jovial mood. I start to wonder why I haven’t yet “found” happiness. Where on earth could that cheeky little bastard be hiding? What is it that I need to acquire that will finally make me feel as if I have enough? How do I sit comfortably in my own skin, imperfections and all? Sadly, questions such as these rarely lead to an answer. I’ve come to realize that true happiness is just as elusive to define as it is to experience. The good news, however, is that it is available in abundant supply to each of us on any given day. Happiness, from my point of view, is not so much a state of having as it is a state of being. It is a finely developed radar that gently redirects your focus to appreciate the treasures in your chest instead of longing for the ones that are inside of someone else’s (or on their Facebook page).

Some of the happiest people that I’ve met aren’t so much lucky in the way that they’ve managed to find the perfect job, partner, or life circumstance. The people who experience the most contentment seem to be those who work the hardest at cultivating an attitude of gratitude for the things that are already in their lives.

One thing that my wanker-loving friend, Yvonne, did last year that resonated with me was participating in something called #100happydays. This campaign was a call to arms for social media users to challenge themselves to find the little things that surround them every day and bring them joy.When you take the time to stop and pay attention to what’s right in front of your face, you may very well come to realize that being happy isn’t so unattainable after all. You can learn to appreciate the beautiful forest that you’re standing in — one tree at a time.

Sadly, I am no Yvonne. I do not have the stamina to consistently post my discoveries while hauling my children out the door, overseeing homework, fulfilling household responsibilities and managing my workload. But for the sake of practicing the art of counting my own blessings, I will conclude this post with a list of my own happy-inducing discoveries.

WP_20140407_004[1]#1. There’s something about a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers on the dining room table. I started keeping flowers in the house when we tried to sell our home. After the showings ended, I kept putting the flowers out because I just liked the feeling of walking into the room and seeing them. They’re beautiful and calming, and I never tire of seeing them.

 

 

 

 

WP_20150203_001[1] #2. The wall thingy. I’m not sure what to call this, exactly. It’s a decorative wall thingy. We put it up after we painted to spruce things up. Sometimes I forget about the thingy. I believe I suffer from the same short-term memory loss that goldfish are rumored to be afflicted with. Just as they are surprised each and every time by the little plastic castle in their tank, I come upstairs from doing a load of laundry, notice the thingy on the wall in the living room and think to myself, wow, look at the thingy … it’s so nice.

 

 

 

WP_20150203_003[1]#3. A fruit bowl. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to live in a country where I can just walk down to the grocery store and buy all the food I want. I have never known what it’s like to suffer endless hunger because I have the good fortune to be surrounded by all the tasty produce my heart desires.

 

 

 

 

 

WP_20140625_001[1] #4. My six-year-old’s drawings. When I look at the all the pictures my daughter draws at school, I see a child who feels loved and is happy. This makes me feel tremendously successful as a parent and exponentially revs up the warm and fuzzies.

 

 

 

 

WP_20140811_001[1]                    #5. My nine-year-old’s drawings. When I look at the pictures my son draws, I see a child with a brilliant mind. It makes me appreciate his gifts and reminds me of what an important job it is to be a parent.

 

 

 

 

wine lady#6. The lady at my grocery store’s wine kiosk. I call her the “angel lady”. She always has little samples of different vintages to offer. Like those people who decorate the sidelines of marathons, offering cups of refreshment to the runners who pass by, she is always there to offer me refreshment as I complete the gathering-of-the-nourishments lap in my marathon. Sometimes, just because she’s a super great lady, I’ll visit her refreshment stand twice. She never judges me. I love her. There. I said it.

 

 

 

WP_20140609_012[1]#7. Washers. Okay, so this is a little game that my family plays whenever we get together for holiday functions. Basically, it’s Texas Horseshoes. You have a board with recessed holes that you hope to fill with the little metal rings that you toss from the other board with recessed holes that you happen to be standing on. You rack up points based on what hole your ring falls into, ranging from 1–5 points. When your washer falls into the 5 hole, you feel an immense sense of satisfaction. People stop what they’re doing to high-five you, and you wonder if Olympic athletes ever feel this good about themselves. In my family, we dedicate long weekends and camping trips to organizing “washer tournaments”. Everybody gets pretty worked up over this game in the way they develop camaraderie with their assigned partners and engage in a little “trash talk” with their rivals. It’s all incredibly silly, but every time I play I get so caught up in the nonsense that I don’t think about anything else other than what I’m doing. Which, by the way, is the single most important trait that all those happiness-wankers share: the ability to remain in the present moment.

Yvonne calls herself a veteran of life. I would agree that title suits her. She has learned how to create the life she wants by seeing the value of the things and people that surround her, and wanting what she already has. Well done, Yvonne, you wanker ;) .WP_20140621_016[1]

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