But I think I was barking up the wrong tree the whole time. This is what I think is the case...Happy couples are happy because the individuals are happy. I know, duh, right?
I know there are lots of other ingredients too- a dash of this and a smidge of that, plus some chemistry and ta da- a happy couple. Way to oversimplify, I know.
At least that's my theory and I'm sticking to it. It's a complicated question- what makes a happy couple and I think it's slippery, like a fish.
My happy quest was on. The pace is slower here. The mother guilt is at an all time low. Money is never falling out of trees so, the low cost Happy Quest had begun. Bring it.
And this is what I learned...
I HAD ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA HOW TO HAVE FUN.
And that, my friends, is a happiness killer.
I think somewhere along the line I forgot how to have fun. I could blame it on a million different things; work, kids, laundry, my husband, ironing, the dog but the bottom line was it was my fault. I knew what happy was NOT. Bummer, huh? I think young mothers are especially prone to this condition. And it IS a condition. It's right there in the DSM-5 under "Burnt Out".
Then I stumbled on happy. A little bit here, a little bit there. Writing. That made me happy. I knew if I wrote a little and it wasn't complete garbage, I was happy. Hiking made me happy (when I wasn't dry heaving somewhere). Scootering down a mountain screaming, "This is the best method of transportation EVER!", shot the happiness quotient way up. A water balloon fight with the kids- that was pretty good, too.
Yesterday it was paddleboarding. I have been dying to try this for at least four years. Peppered people with questions, fondled them in the shops, hinted at holidays. Begged at holidays. Then I saw a posting for group lessons being offered at the lake. Cost was reasonable. Had an instructor. I just had to show up. And in typical fashion, I almost blew it.
Decided the house needed a tidy, couldn't find the right suit, couldn't find the car park, Caroline didn't feel well, I hadn't made them lunch- they will starve, and on and on. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to fun.
I got there and it was just two other women and myself. One who had never done it, like myself, and the other fairly confident but content to paddle along with others for the company.
I was super worried I wouldn't be able to stand up- like water skiing. Then, what if I fell in? Could I get myself back on? Maybe. Maybe not.
I got out. Stood up and paddled away. Love. I fell in. Got up. Paddled away again. Still love.
Started chatting with the other American who showed up. She has an unusual name. How'd she get her name? Does a name influence personality? Was she named for someone? How'd they get that name? All fun, legitimate questions. My son Sam is named after a Sam I used to babysit for. That Sam was named for a Sam whose name wasn't actually Sam but everyone called Sam. You follow that?
Then I said, "If this isn't a perfect day, I don't know what is." Then Ms. Unusual Name started to sing. First, 'Stormy Weather'. On the lake while paddle boarding. In a beautiful alto voice. And then, this song by Ella Fitzgerald, 'Summertime'.
Happy. So much fun...I'm catching on. A little bit of fun, goes a long way to happy. You just gotta try. It's too easy to get bogged down in stuff that DOESN'T MATTER. Happy matters. If I stayed home to vacuum, I would have missed being sung to while paddleboarding on a lake in Switzerland. For vacuuming? Awww, HELL NO.
So get your fun on. Nothing to lose. You just have to show up.
I almost felt like cooking after that. Almost.
Play the song. You'll like it.