How To Sabotage Happiness

“I get hit on everyday at work,” a young mother recently disclosed.  “Anyone of those men would be happy to look after me. My husband just doesn’t appreciate me enough!”

I don’t know what has motivated this woman to make such a comment, but I fear she is on the brink of destroying many lives.

“There are four dragons to look out for in life,” a wise teacher once told me: ” Wish fulfillment, impulse, fantasy, and exaggeration.”

Unfortunately, the acronym for these self-saboteurs is W.I.F.E – not intentional, I’m sure.

Wish fulfillment is that vague but nagging desire that suggests something is lacking.  In the case of the young mother, the wish that her marriage be something other than it is.  In reality, I know few young couples with children under two who are feeling the romance.  It is decidedly a busy and challenging time, and if she wasn’t so self-focused, she might be thankful that she has a partner willing to share much of the responsiblity (as I happen to know she does).

Personally, I know the W dragon is at work in my life when I dream of unrequited life. “If only…” the poison whispers, “than maybe I’d be…”   Wishful thinking undermines current potential, and tends to put the blame for unhappiness on an outside source.  Happiness ultimately stems from an internal commitment to make life work.

Impulse is discomfort’s best friend and happiness’ arch-enemy.  Jump out of the frying pan and into the fire, I believe the old adage goes.  There are times to be decisive, such as leaving an abusive relationship, and times to proceed with caution.  For the young mother, now might be a good time to seek counselling with her spouse.

Of course, I have been the queen of impulse – living life as if it’s an extreme sport, leaping far too often – so I know all too well how this frenetic activity does not lead to happiness.  It does, however; qualify one for victim of the year award:  “Look at all the awful and unfair things that have happened to me in my life, boo hoo.”

Only fantasy would make her believe that a flirting male would ever want to take her on post-divorce with two wee children.  Office winks seldom translate to lifelong commitment.  I made that mistake once – after months of being sweet talked by the UPS man, I decided to give it a go, and suggested he take me on a date.  The poor man was devastated.

“What makes you think I’m available?” he sputtered.  “I have a live-in girlfriend.”

Ahh, the F dragon.

Exaggeration looks like this:  “My husband doesn’t pay attention to me.”

Apart from the fact that he works full-time in a steady job while she has pursued many careers at much expense, and that he stays home with the kids three nights a week so she can do yoga, or painting with wine, or whatever else it is that takes priority over her family.

I know I sound angry here, but I have been on the other end of the E dragon – my ex wrote a 200 page affidavit stating how inattentive to him I was throughout our 17 years of marriage.  WTF?  I bore him three children, set him up in business, did his books, and made sure he had time to pursue his heart’s passion.  Even the judge in the divorce trial knew it was exaggeration and said so.

Life will present difficulties all along the way – that’s a given.  Happiness – different from instant gratification – comes from the willingness to meet challenges head on, with honesty, compassion and a willingness to be an integral part of the solution.

Wishing away the problems, jumping at passing trains, fantasizing about baseless options, and exaggerating the situation will only ever fuel the flames of regret and bitterness.

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

2 thoughts on “How To Sabotage Happiness

  1. VJ, these are wise words. I will set aside your ex-husband’s narcissism, as obviously you could not do enough to satisfy someone who wants more than anyone could give.

    Young couples have it tough when they realize the passion has waned and day-to-day life kicks them in the fanny. To make it through this crisis of passion, it helps if couples are friends as well. If they are not, they are candidates for the wrong side of the 50/50 divorce rate.

    So, the acronym you cite tests them even more, and will do so the rest of their lives. As for the impulse and fantasy part of the equation, I love your UPS guy story. We all have fantasies that are not copacetic with reality. In our fantasies we are the greatest of lovers and highly desired, but in reality, we most likely do not meet those attributes or at least in the elevated levels of our dreams.

    I had an old boss who used to travel to other cities often for meetings with colleagues of both genders. He had a rule because he did not want to be put in the following situation. He never left himself alone with a colleague of the opposite sex. He did not want to do something stupid after a couple of drinks. So, when dinner was over, he went back to his room. When most of the group left, he left.

    So, if we feel we are in a bad relationship, we should not exaggerate it, but confront it through dialogue. Once we exaggerate it, those other three will rear their head even more.

    Great post, Keith


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