“Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth” – William Butler Yeats
Of late, I’ve found myself furiously taking notes while reading through Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. For those not acquainted, Rubin determined for herself a few year’s back that while she led a charmed life, she perhaps did not appreciate it enough. For anyone who may feel that appreciation is something they lack for themselves or their situation (I do), especially in critical moments where things feel tight and we aren’t sure of important outcomes; this venture hits home. Only part-way through her report on her findings, I am finding her structure to be something I believe I’d really benefit from. I have augmented some of what she’s done, but plan to mimic several aspects, tweaking along the way. I also have found the research she has included, as well as the quotes and stories to fill areas of my quest that I had not yet been able to define.
While The Edison Project is simply a continued experiment to determine a path towards many things; authorship, intentionality, documentation of my life for my children – it is also a probe into what makes me happy. Striving for positivity and remaining focused on these objectives have led me down extremely intriguing paths. I have set markers for myself at the beginnings of each of these forks, that I might – much like Hansel and Gretel – find my way back to probe each of these deeply as I move through life. The timeline for this experiment is a long one. Such a discovery has led to increased patience as I feel the need to understand these undiscovered aspects of my character before determining a singular course for anything as massive an undertaking as a book. Where this time last year I was aimlessly creating characters and scenarios, I’ve pulled back to uncover the reasons for why this person might exist in my world – or that one might not necessarily need to be involved. I’m working to understand how these people may behave in such a world – or worlds – as my ideas vary from month to month on where such an effort should most organically take place.
So here I find myself exploring the quote above. That happiness is characterized as most likened to growth is the truest explanation I’ve ever felt. When I read that passage, I looked up from the page, set my book down, and began to investigate that posit within my own life. Indeed I have always been most happy when at the cusp of something new and important. I’d add only that to Mr. Yeats’ deep and layered thesis. That growth must be focused in ways true to our character is as important as the fact that growth is even happening. Fortunately, there are many areas in which this young man can grow. I intend to continue to believe that for as long as I draw breath.
At work, new building techniques, applications, building uses and challenges may create a large learning curve, but it is determination I already posses. When arriving at the apex of the challenge, where the curve drops off and the production takes form, I am exhilarated beyond belief. Such has been the case for the seven years I’ve now undertaken this industry.
At home, witnessing landmark events, exploring my children’s own unexplored territory with them provides a rush and sense of bonding that can’t come from the dinner table, not to dismiss the importance of a family eating dinner. Working with them to create their own perceptions of what is good, what is worth exploring, I find myself inspired to look inward on my existing perceptions and alter, perhaps, some of them to include lessons they’ve just then taught me. The adventure can be as simple as watching my infant daughter lay on the floor giggling. It can be as trivial as observing the ways my son constructs duplo-blocks to portray, even if in a slightly ambiguous form, towers or castles or rocket ships. It can be as superficial, yet layered, as interacting with my oldest while she’s holding and caring for one of her many baby dolls. Watching how she loves these inanimate objects alerts me to what she’s learned through witness, and creates in me a heightened sense of my contributions to this formula.
With my wife, watching each other grow as we establish new roles while learning to balance all of our existing responsibilities as we balance our natural desire to grow with the weight that parenthood can sometimes add to focus and energy; I am bolstered by what the future promises. I am emboldened to act now the way I want to feel later. It is in these acts where the depth of our relationship is revealed; that although we have known each other for nearly ten years, we have merely skimmed off a fraction of what we are capable of – both individually and together. Beginning to depart from old habits in order to create space for new goals makes me love her in a light I haven’t before held vantage of.
These are the aspects of my life that create my happiness. It is not the thought of becoming happy, but the act of fulfilling happiness that compounds on itself. And each and every day we are granted here on earth we have the opportunity to invest that effort into areas that will generate into something greater. Refining that happiness towards growth in the foundation of our character reflects areas, yet undiscovered, where light can be found and happiness experienced in full.
What a truth to explore!
Yours in the Pursuit and Growth of Happiness,