Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Misery Contract

...recently been thinking about happiness --talking about it, reading a great book (What Happy People Know by the guy who runs one of the programs at Canyon Ranch) about it...

It seems to me that many people have unilaterally signed a contract with the universe that is not only unnecessary, but that is quite insane. I call it the

Misery Contract

I will be happy when all--not some, but all of my conditions are met.
who was it that wanted you to be happy and has pissed you off?

I have to get all this stuff done before I can afford to be happy.
just what do you think happiness is?

 As long as that person is in my life, I will prove they've screwed up my life by being miserable.
ooh, excellent plan, that will really get through to. . . . no one

Things that happened before now will preclude my happiness until they have not happened.
good luck with that

I can't be as [free, rich, pretty, thin, helpful, generous, intelligent, popular, wise, funny, powerful, famous, capable, talented, lucky, sexy, fit, healthy, immortal] as I want to be, so I can't be happy.
1. who says you can't be, and; 2. what's that got to do with anything?

My life is not my own, I have responsibilities and obligations I have to live up to before I can be happy.
you're crazy --that's ridiculous... be happy AND fulfill your obligations and responsibilities

They need to compensate me for what they've done --then I can be happy.
cool idea, but 'to compensate' means 'to give OTHER than what is needed' --how will that help?

I am deeply flawed and have sinned, when I'm pure I can be happy.
yeah, so, never then, eh?

I am not worthy, I haven't earned happiness and don't deserve it.
oh. my. god.

There is too much evil in the world, too many people killed and maimed and starving and suffering for it to be okay for me to be happy.
how does it help them to have you suffering too?

I am in pain. I'll be happy when I don't hurt.
the case is closed: pain lost --happiness alleviates a lot of pain and makes whatever pain is left much easier to endure

I am afraid to be happy. Too much good stuff happening attracts bad luck.
ha. ha. ha. ha. no it doesn't

Photo used with permission, Creative Commons Attributed-Non-Derivative photo: Children By 1000Paperclips

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Gentle Removal of Blankies, Pacifiers, Cuddle Toys and Special Bears

On a mother's Q&A forum recently I wrote:

I am confused at the people who give children a comfort object to avoid needing a person to comfort the child, only to take the object away when the parent decides it's inappropriate.

If you know you're going to take it away, why give it in the first place? Just wonderin'...

While I comfort myself with the thought that I can influence the whole world so much that I can stop parents from ever compelling a child to attach to an object--any object--instead of a person, I do live in the real world. Lots of people have already got kids attached to things. Avoid it if it is still possible, but if you are already here, recriminations are pointless and now parents only have the power to fix it, not undo it. As Terry Prachett quips: what has happened tends to stay happened.

I have a friend who is still angry, confused and bitter about a stuffed bear her dad discarded. This may seem frivolous --why would a grown woman hold onto such a trivial issue? Well, I think the primary reason is what the object meant.

The bear (pillow, blanket, stuffy, cuddle toy, pacifier) was this woman's mother-substitute. The bear was there when mother wasn't, reliable and consistent, available and held together from the long-ago magic of childhood and desperate need.

Dad, to the still-three-year-old part of this woman's existence, threw out her mother.

I say this in the hopes that parents will understand what they're asking their children to give up and perhaps pause before acting out of impatience, a sense of incompetence, or the unfairness of the child getting to keep the mother-substitute for longer than they were allowed as children.

If the object is truly a problem for the parent, the solution is not to eliminate the object but the child's need for the object. The simplest way to do this, of course, is to put a person in its place. Yes, yes, I know -- I did say 'simple', not 'easy.'
Photo used with permission, Creative Commons, attributed, non-derivative, photo: A Mother's Kiss by Edwin Dalorzo