Recently a friend and I were having the conversation about the fact that women (of course some men too) do a really crappy job of telling people what they need. We’re really good at saying, “What can I do for you?” or giving a passive aggressive piece of advice to our partners or friends, but when it comes down to saying, “I’d really like you to do ___ for me” we stink. We hold back what is true about us. We just don’t know how to ask for what we need. We often just go on doing and doing for others hoping that one day they’ll return the favor by reading our minds.
Maybe it is part of the mothering complex that seems to come with the female personality or maybe it is just generational or parenting issues, but regardless, it has been a long time since I’ve heard a woman confidently say, “This__ makes me really happy.”
It’s a tell tell sign, I think of how out of touch we are when we simply don’t know.
But, we think we do. We are a nation of consumerism after all. We can get loans for what we want like new granite countertops and stainless steel refrigerators, so our kitchens are as nice as our neighbors. And things get worse when we look at what we do to our bodies. In fact, if the stats were revealed, it is true we spend billions of dollars a day on beauty products, get skinny pills and new clothes which are the latest style. It’s not that we aren’t turning our attention inward– it is just what kind of attention it is. We are shiny on the outside with no idea of who we are on the inside.
As my friend and I kept talking along these lines, we both agreed it is intentional act to be able to know what makes you happy and what you most need. It’s not like you can wake up every morning and always know. “I’d like to do __ today.” It’s not always that we as women have this kind of freedom of exploration. We think we don’t have time to know what makes us happy. Isn’t it our job to make everyone else happy?
Yet, I think if ever are going to move past the plastic interactions with each other and find peace for our souls (that I think most of us really want), then we’ve got to take step back and simply be able to answer the question. Easier said than done of course. Sacrifices will be required.
To be able to know what makes you happy is a lifestyle of awareness. It’s a lifestyle of paying attention. It’s a lifestyle of trying new things, taking risks and being able to say “yes” when something brings you joy. And, we can’t feel guilty about such a journey. The Divine blesses us when we love and respect the beloved creation that we were made to be. And a funny thing happens, I believe, when we begin to live this way: we have something leftover to give away.
Author Leo Buscaglia once said: “You can only give away what you have … If you have love, you can give it. If you don’t have it, you don’t have it to give.” So why then are we so focused on filling ourselves up with what will not fulfill us or give us anything in the first place?
For me, one thing that makes me happy is blogging. It’s something I do for myself. (And if any of you happen to enjoy it great). Blogging and other forms of writing are on my happy list along with long uninterrupted conversations with good friends, diet coke from the fountain with just the right fizz, pulling out my passport for a trip, tweeting during major world events, and being at home on the couch in the fall with a fuzzy blanket and a fire going.
I am a writer to my core, so having this place to share, learn the discipline and simply get out thoughts in my head is a gift. Though so many find blogging to be a chore and stop before they get going, for me it is something I eagerly look forward to doing. It makes me happy, but even more important, it brings me joy (the difference between happiness and joy is a conversation for another day).
But, I never would have known this if I hadn’t pay attention or allowed others to pay attention to me in more intentional ways. People who say, “You’ve been writing, haven’t you? . . . You look happy” have encouraged me to not let the fears of “I can’t” get the best of me when it comes to creating prose. I need to keep writing on my good days and on my worst. It’s a nonnegotiable.
So, today, what makes you happy? Go ahead and do it. Or make plans to do it soon. If you don’t know what “it” is– figure it out. You’ll be glad you did.