Happiness is the New Black

I recently flew on Southwest flight #1006. Destination: Baltimore, MD. Then onwards to our nation’s capital. Biz trip.

Upon cozying into my exit row seat, courtesy of my business select fare, I pick up the Spirit magazine to kill some time, and more importantly, avoid glares from men whose legs are longer than mine. Sorry suckers – you get what you pay for (in my lucky case, I get what my company pays for).

The Spirit cover, featuring a glad girl with a bouquet of bright balloons, prompts me to immediately flip to an article called Perk Up!, written by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. The article features various fascinating theories about happiness: how to measure it and what it really means. It reminds me of the several blog notes I’ve been collecting and how much my Happiness has evolved in only one years time. I recommend you google it – I feel confident that it’ll inform you. Who knows, it may even inspire you. It inspired me to write this:

“Everybody knows that the sweetest thing you’ll ever see, is a happy girl.” Well at least that’s what Martina McBride’s lovely lungs proclaim in her song Happy Girl.
There’s no debating that Happiness is highly sought out. Walt Disney makes a killing off that fact. And our fore fathers gave us the right to pursue it, so why not wrangle what’s rightfully ours?

Many of us spend money, attend therapy, read self-help books, write encouraging notes on our mirrors (OK, maybe that’s just me), pray, toast cocktails, write and even dance our way into Happiness’ embrace. That’s all well and fine, I’m no expert after all, but I do know this much: the biggest mistake one can make is to wait for Happiness to waltz through the door all wonderful and sparkly. Trust me.

Here is my tango with Happiness:

On New Years Day 2010 I laid in a dark Vegas hotel room, all by myself, and begged and pleaded for Happiness. I just needed it to find me, and fix me. I wept as I imagined all the people beyond my chosen confinement laughing, hugging and making new years resolutions – those happy assholes. I reasoned that everyone else in the world was forging ahead with aspirations like: claiming the corner office, losing weight, getting back into the gym, planning an amazing vacation, mastering a new meal, getting pregnant, learning an instrument or a new language, falling in love….the list goes on-and-on. And I found everything about them and their wishful/ambitious thinking ridiculous, if not a little insulting.

All I wanted was to be happy; yet my resolution seemed more far-fetched than all of theirs combined. I was miserable beyond description. I had no appetite for life, much less food. The hotel phone rang and I picked it up only to deliberately, and passionately, hang it up. Texts buzzed and I ignored them. My facebook app taunted me with well wishes and I despised it. I sobbed in the bed diagonally. I sobbed face-down. I sobbed sitting up. I even watched myself sobbing in the mirror (like I’ve said before, I must be a masochist). I quit sobbing only long enough to gain the strength to sob some more. Not even the allure of Sin City could make me smile a real Jamie-smile, because even when I tried to fake it, I could taste my failure. (Just in case this depression is news to you, here’s a little backstory to my misery: another failed relationship, lack of career, zero zest for life and at 25 years of age, I had just moved back into my mother’s home. You’d have a break-down too. And if not, you’re a stronger human than I, and I kindly ask you to have mercy on my formally sad soul.)

I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but somewhere in between my sob-fest and self-pity party for one, I had a rude, but very significant awakening: the ball was back in my court – just waiting, patiently, for my next play. I realized that I am the dictator of my emotion. It was Just Jamie now. So my tears, smiles, and everything in-between were all up to me. This realization was both terrifying, and liberating.

So I bravely decided right then and there, in what’s arguably the happiest place on earth, for adults that is (so why the hell did I just hang up on my mama’s loving, “Get up, go out and get fresh air, come hang out, I bet you’ll find fun in no time! I love you,” plea), that this year had to be different. No trivial resolutions, no preposterous ones either. I wanted, and desperately needed, only one thing: you guessed it, Happiness. This was the shortest list I’d ever created, surely it was possible.

I won’t lie to you and say that I popped right up out of bed, threw open those perfectly thick curtains and began my pursuit immediately. In all honesty, 2010 was an emotional roller coaster. But it was also a year of grand self-discovery. I made decisions and surrounded myself with people and things that bettered me as a person, healed my heart, enhanced my positive qualities and made me excited to be me.

I didn’t even check Happiness off my list until sometime in December. I had to be sure it wouldn’t slip through my fingertips. I also wanted to make certain that I continued to strive for it’s presence every single day. And to that end, I’d like to share that Happiness tops my list for 2011 too. This year I’ll focus on maintaining it and seeking more of it – some girls just want it all.

I should also add that later in the year I penciled-in another resolution on my record-short list. Nothing dumb, nothing unrealistic: Get a great job. I’m happy to say that I’m typing this from 30,000 feet because I successfully checked that off my list last summer. However, I recognize that I could have easily erased that resolution if I hadn’t diligently focused on Happiness every single day. It’s amazing to me how life seems to fall perfectly into place when I’m the best me. For 2011, I have boldly sharpied-in a career goal: be a better asset to my company.

I have learned, and accepted, that Happiness is a choice. It is a conscious effort. And it isn’t always easy either. Somedays it’s there the moment I open my brown eyes. Other days it’s something I literally add to my To-Do List. But it’s always right there, waiting for me to acknowledge it, and wrap myself in all it’s splendor.

One thing’s for sure: like a little black dress, Happiness will never go out of style – it’s better than black.

My Happiness Holler-Back List: These wonderful people ignited, contributed to and even fostered my happiness when I briefly misplaced it.

-Bobby Royal. The best damn server at Zipps. She embodies a sense of realism I think I’ll always admire. She coined the term “Just Jamie.” She spoke me straight on several down days. And she has one of the most genuine laughs I’ve ever heard.

-April Alford. The greatest mama a girl could have. She endured numerous late night texts of sadness and always responded with something positive.

-Sara Amsberry. An inspiring spirit, a dear girlfriend. She made it her personal mission to keep me busy, make me smile and help me put the pieces of me together again for 6 solid months (my Happiness was not built over night). She taught me to be kinder to strangers and welcome new friendships. I can honestly say that I’m a much cooler,calmer, more positive Jamie because of her. She’s also one of the most fun people I know.

-Jennifer White. My soulmate and bestie for 23 years and counting. We don’t speak everyday, but I feel her love all the time.

-You. My readers. Writing has been my therapy, your support has been my salvation. I sincerely hope that you are treating 2011 well and that you create Happiness in your life on a daily basis.

Sent from my iPad


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