I finally made it to an additional meeting this week, added to my “home” group. I like to go to two meetings a week, but I don’t always make it. I know that lots of people think two meetings a week is not enough (let alone one), but it works for me!
The second meeting was a discussion and two topics were brought up: happiness and serenity. The man who asked about happiness was, to my ear, asking about happiness in the face of adversity. The way he phrased it was “What do you need to be happy?”
As people spoke about happiness and serenity they decided that of course they are interrelated. Adversity got lost in the shuffle though. Some of the things that were sort of said (my paraphrases):
God always gives me what I need.
I know that God will always give me what I need.
When I look at my children, when I hold them in my arms, how could I not be happy?
I’m judgemental and I have a problem with this. Yes, of course, my happy healthy children make me happy. Yes, of course, I have had all I need every day of my life so far.
But this says nothing about my “happiness” in adversity.
There are tragedies I don’t think I could recover from. I hope I don’t find out, but some of what goes on in the world makes me catch my breath. I don’t know how people live with some of the things they live with. I’m spoiled, by birth and by circumstance, so far.
So far. I have had everything I need and much, much more, but not everyone does. And one day, I won’t have everything I need to stay alive. I hope that happens from old age in my sleep, but still, it will happen.
Judging the people who spoke at that meeting (which is wrong for me to do, of course, since I speak wrongly at meetings all the time), I think they missed the point. It would be a different kind of problem for people who have nice houses, nice jobs, healthy children, good sobriety, healthy bodies, etc, to not be “happy.”
I’ve had times when I’ve gone through rough patches, like when one of my kids was sick and the outcome was in serious question. It is very difficult to be “happy” under such circumstances. I remember moments of happiness, but for me, when my child was not doing well every happiness was tinged with sadness. I have been lucky so far in that those times have passed, and today all looks well and promising for me and mine. Though that can change in a second.
My bottom line is that my “happiness” is not the point. I can’t help chasing it, but I recognize it is not a worthy goal. Mother Teresa comes to mind as an extreme example. I don’t think she spent much if any time trying to be “happy.” She’s extraordinary and I’m not, but I can hold her example up to myself at times when my happiness is elusive, especially when I’m serving others.
I know that the AA literature holds up extreme life examples of conditions that we can make it through, sober and sometimes serene, if not “happy.” The one that always comes to my mind is when someone loses a child in war. I can’t imagine how awful that would be, especially because war is man made and there would be other mothers on the other side experiencing the same loss.
Surely we are meant to be “happy, joyous, and free.” I have two shirts that say so! For me it’s important to count my big and small happinesses every day, to learn from the experiences of others, to keep going when it’s difficult to do so and to look to helping others if I can, when I can.