mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The eternal quest for happiness...

My regrets post generated an email from a close friend and regular reader (must be the newly-repaired rss feed). I'm not going to copy the whole email, but the gist was that she felt that I was looking for happiness, and that I thought I'd tried to achieve previous goals (grad school, buying a house, losing weight) in the hope of finding it, and that my quest recent attempts at dating have been my next attempt. Her advice was that I need to learn to learn to be happy with what I have, that there isn't one thing that's going to make me happy.

I think there's probably a lot of truth in that.

I'm not sure that the things I've done in the past have been done in the hopes of finding happiness - at least, that isn't the reason I told myself I was doing them. I bought a house because I thought that it would be a good financial decision, because that's what responsible people do when they reach a certain age, and because, well, I need to live somewhere. I got my MBA because, well, it was (mostly) free, it seemed like a good follow-up to an undergrad business degree, because I thought it might help me in my career in the future, and because it would make my parents proud (and justify why I'd taken a job doing grunt work for a college). I lost weight because I wanted to live past 55.

But of course, in the back of my mind was the idea that things would be better after these things. And in some ways they are - when something changes for the better, and you get used to the changes, you forget that it wasn't always that way, that it was tougher then). Buying a house means no tiny apartment, no dealing with roomates, nobody hustling me for change outside my apartment, no not being able to find a parking space. Losing weight means I can walk up a couple flights of stairs without puffing like a chimney, that I can buy clothing from the normal section instead of the fat people section.

But I don't even have a real reason for wishing I wasn't single. I do think it's something missing from my life. I think most people who are in good, committed relationships would ascribe a significant amount of the reason for their happiness to their significant other, and would probably identify it as one of the most important things in their lives.

And it's easy to understand why. Having someone love you who doesn't have to (unlike, say, your parents) is validation. Someone likes you enough to want you to be a significant part of their lives. They want to be around you, they want to spend time with you, you make them feel happy. Out of all the people in the world, you are the person they want to spend their lives with. That's something powerful. And it's something I don't have, have never had, have never figured out why other people have and I don't.

Now, I know that there are people who are totally happy being single. They find happiness in other things - religion, travel, hobbies, friendships, ect - and are perfectly happy being single. But those people are rare, and I'm not sure I can be one of those people.


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