The Road to Happiness

October 4, 2011

in Life Lessons

Not long ago I had an email exchange with a reader about progress towards happiness and being brave. I pointed out the big step I made a year ago, going to a dinner party alone. I then shared with the reader that two months later I had a setback at a family event with a large group of neighbors. I looked around at all the families and started to cry. Uncontrollably cry actually and it was quite embarrassing. I had taken two steps back in progress and I was frustrated about it. The point to the reader, who wrote me about looking forward to being brave and happy again, was that you have to expect setbacks.

I sit here today, a year after the progress and setback I just described, feeling ten steps behind where I was then. I feel worse than I have in quite some time.

Here’s what I know: the road to happiness is not a straight line and it is not without setbacks.

What I try to do each day is focus on the positive, look for the small joys that are a part of each day, and align myself with what is good and joyful in each day. Some  days I am successful and some days I am not.

Yesterday was filled with tears and feeling sad. Today I am trying to remind myself there was a time when I was feeling stronger and more positive. I hope it will be a helpful reminder that there are better days ahead.  And, even though I want to fast-forward through these feelings, I am allowing myself to just feel. It is uncomfortable, but I need to honor where I am right now.



{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Roxanne October 4, 2011 at 9:35 am

Wow. I so get that. I’ve been so much better than I have been at my worst times. I’ve gone from crying every day all day for over a year to rarely crying at all. (My sadness shows itself in other ways, now). But just the other day I broke down in tears at my local Staples store. I was like — whoa — where did that come from? It happens, I’m coming off illness and injury and that can sometimes weaken the spirit as well (as pointed out by my therapist).

“Here’s what I know: the road to happiness is not a straight line and it is not without setbacks.”

Well said. Brava. And thanks, really needed it this week.
Roxanne recently posted..A Craigslist Fantasy — How I Met the Love of My LifeMy Profile


Naked Girl in a Dress October 4, 2011 at 9:54 am

Thank you for stopping by and commenting. It means a lot to me that something in this piece resonated for you.


Jonah Gibson October 4, 2011 at 10:02 am

It’s possible to be okay with the sadness. Well, comfortable anyway. I’ve grown to regard it as my natural state. It took me a while to get here as I’ve always thought of myself as having a highly developed sense of humor. I can still be pretty funny, but I am nearly overwhelmed with sadness at the strangest things. A friend of mine used to call it ‘the gift of tears’. She said it was a charism of the Holy Spirit. I’d never heard of it before that, but it made me regard my sinking spells in a new light – as an acute sensitivity to the unspoken suffering of those around me. It is a grace. Last week I cried through most of a teenage romantic angst film titled Flipped. It is a pretty good movie, but not the kind of thing I usually get wrapped up in. It’s about 14 year-olds. I’m 63. Go figure. I posted a comment at Manwife Chronicles that said I’d cried through Weekend at Bernie’s. I couldn’t remember the name, Flipped, for one, and I thought Weekend at Bernie’s made the story funnier. Now I can’t go back over there and come clean. I reread the comment this morning. It’s not funny at all. It’s sad as hell. I’m sharing the gift without meaning to. Right now I’m feeling your pain. I want to take some of it on to ease your burden. Of course it doesn’t really work that way. Increasing my sadness does not diminish yours. Too bad, really, because apparently I can carry a lot. Here’s hoping your path straightens out and the road rises to meet you a little. I’m pulling for you the best I know how.
Jonah Gibson recently posted..Conversations with Bean: Sorting the BitchesMy Profile


Naked Girl in a Dress October 4, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Thank you for this wonderful comment Jonah. You are a great guy, always stopping by to read. I appreciate your kind words and offer to take on some of this for me. You are great. Please keep visiting me.


Vinny C October 4, 2011 at 10:22 am

I’ve dealt with & am still dealing with a lot of setbacks after the job loss (not the recent crappy one, the good one from 3 years ago). When I hit those setbacks, I think about how I’ve grown & all I’ve learned due to the initial event. That takes away a lot of the regret.
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Naked Girl in a Dress October 4, 2011 at 12:06 pm

You are right Vinny. I have faith something good will come of this too.


Lisa October 5, 2011 at 10:22 am

Believing that something good will come of the bad times (as mentioned in an earlier reply) is vitally important. I have been where you are, and my heart breaks for what you go through – what we all go through – when dealing with the loss of what we thought our lives would be. That is serious stuff to overcome. And to be honest with you, a part of it will always stay with you.

Years after two devastatingly failed marriages (and the years that were in between them), I am proud of who I became after their failures; proud that I survived and overcame and eventually thrived; proud that I can look back and see the good I gained from both marriages (rather than believing those years to be a complete waste of life). But it still haunts a bit, too, when I let myself think about the failures of the marriages; when I think about people I know who have been successfully married for many, many years with no divorce. And sometimes, even after all the years and personal growth, it can still cause setbacks.

I certainly don’t say this to make anyone’s situation even more bleak. Rather, in hopes that anyone will realize that the setbacks will happen, inevitably, but it does not negate the progress you’ve made and the success you achieve. Let it happen; acknowledge it. Cry. And move on.

The greatest wisdom I’ve ever learned, which is almost trite in its simplicity, is “This Too Shall Pass”. (And remember that it is as true of the good times as it is of the bad. So acknowledge them, as well. Dance in their midst, and take them into yourself.)
Lisa recently posted..Writing? Not Writing? Am I ? Do I ? Should I ?… Egads!My Profile


Naked Girl in a Dress October 5, 2011 at 10:35 am

Thank you for taking the time to write this comment. It is honest in the difficulty and yet filled with hope. I appreciate this gift you left on my blog today.


Colleen October 5, 2011 at 12:36 pm

I’m in the 6th month of a separation from my husband that will eventually end in divorce. I’m familiar with that frustration of feeling like out of the blue I’ve stepped back five steps. There are times when I’m so impatient with myself, I WANT TO FEEL JOY not just “ok” and definately not the soul tearing grief that sometimes hits.

Honoring where we are right now. Such a good reminder and one I have a hard time with.

I recently wrote myself about how this journey is not linear. Recovery rarely is.

Wishing you patience and gentleness with yourself in your journey.

Colleen recently posted..Walking And HealingMy Profile


Naked Girl in a Dress October 6, 2011 at 7:47 pm


That impatience is what I was feeling Monday and Tuesday. I said to friends several times that after three years, I am tired of this. I am ready to move forward and feel better!

What I can tell you is that rebounding from the setbacks seems to be easier with time. Hopefully you will find that to be true as well.

Patience and gentleness: what wonderful wishes for me. I wish the same for you.

Thank you!


Constance Phillips October 6, 2011 at 12:13 pm

I feel like something drew me to the tweet that led me to this post this afternoon. The last six months have been filled with heartache, and this is a wonderful reminder to push through. Thanks
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Naked Girl in a Dress October 6, 2011 at 7:22 pm

I am so sorry to read about your heartache these last six months, but am happy something I wrote has brought you a bit of inspiration. Thank you for visiting.


P.J. October 6, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Though I’d like to try and avoid the cliche and the baseball metaphor…

Sometimes, life throws you a curve. It’s your job to hit it out of the park.

I know what you mean about steps back. I don’t feel like I’ve taken many steps forward in several years. I’ve watched friends and colleagues lap me. But I keep chugging along. Happiness will eventually come. I hope the same for you. Keep pushing forward and hopefully one morning you’ll wake up and realize… “HOLY CRAP! I AM THERE!”

Keep on keepin’ on! I hope things look up soon!
P.J. recently posted..Disc golf vs. Frolf continues!My Profile


Naked Girl in a Dress October 6, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I think I need to work on improving my batting average P.J. I am taking time off of the game to just practice my swing. I think it will help me greatly when I return to the game. Thank you for the encouraging words.

Off to watch the Yankees in 45 minutes!


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