“Happiness is a choice, not an achievement.”
Noah and I set off for a sunset hike to Humpback Rocks the other day. It’s supposedly not that long of a hike (only 2 miles round trip), and since we tend to have poor luck with sunrise hikes, a sunset one seemed reasonable enough to attempt. We were looking forward to nice weather, smooth hiking, an incredible view, and some enoing up at the top. After an hour of driving, and about fifteen minutes out from our destination, however, we encountered this:
Well, how obnoxious.
There was a crazy windstorm over the weekend, one that left over 25,000 people without power and plenty of trees down. 65 mile per hour winds are enough to close a road, apparently, so while Noah made a questionable attempt to test the sturdiness of the gate (some closed gates just aren’t meant to be crossed in the same way that some people are just meant to test boundaries), we were eventually forced to search what other options we had.
A painful skim through my struggling GPS (service up in the parkway is delightfully nonexistent) told us there was indeed another road leading to Humpback Rocks, but that would mean an hour and a half or more of driving. With the sun setting in about an hour and our urge to watch it strong, we were forced to put our Humpback Rock idea off for another day.
With mild disappointment and our moods teetering on the edge of a bad attitude, we went looking for a reasonable overlook instead.
Why is it that we (me, obviously) don’t like our wills to be crossed?
Why is it that we (I) get upset when life doesn’t look like what we want it to look like?
Our air doesn’t smell the way ideal air should smell. Our laughs don’t feel as deep and genuine as we want them to feel. The sun isn’t warm enough, the heart isn’t light enough, the life isn’t good enough. We wean our satisfaction on the results of some obscure, baseless measurements, but why?
What are you searching for precisely?
What would meet your standards?
What even are your standards?
We drove the parkway for a while, stopping here and there and interpreting a couple of views to determine if they were good enough. More often then not, they were slightly lacking–that, or the trees weren’t accommodating to our enoing needs. As we went along, discovering and having fine conversation, I thought about my inclination toward dissatisfaction (you know it [don’t you?], that tight feeling you get when things just aren’t right), and I decided I probably don’t need it. So maybe I can get rid of it?
“Do you ever just stop and think that you have exactly what someone else desperately wants?” I asked Noah.
He spun my (serious) inquiry into a compliment (like usual–“everybody would like to date you, Abbey“) before admitting that, yeah. Yeah, we usually have something that someone else wants, don’t we? Maybe we have a lot of things. Maybe we now have what we once said would make us happy–a boy/girlfriend? A car? Good food? Certain talents? Freedom? Savings? College education? Family?
So why can something like a curt comment, a broken dish, some spilled milk, a messy house, or a “Road Closed” sign stir up disgruntlement and unhappiness?
Why do we let it?
Why don’t we value the strength of contentment?
After passing a few hiking spots, a couple make-shift viewpoints, and lots of twists and turns, we discovered 20 Minute Cliff, the best view we’d encountered that day by far. We dragged my backpack (filled with drinks, snacks, the hammock, and straps), climbed over the wall and picked our trees for enoing.
Ever stop to wonder how much time you waste hung up on what didn’t happen (or what did happen that you didn’t want to happen)? Ever wonder how much you miss because you were distracted by what might be more appealing? Ever think that maybe spending your time annoyed and unimpressed just means that you’re going to miss out on life–and a lot of it?
Don’t let little things steal your ability to be content in the moment. The habitual tendencies you have toward dissatisfaction, annoyance, and irritability can be corrected to an easygoing oh-well and a smooth continuation. Happiness is a habit you should put effort into cultivating–and while it will certainly take effort, how much better is this then seething in your own crossed will?
Learn to let it go.
Limit your willingness to be irritated.
Learn to live with what you have and what you can’t control.
Put effort into contentment.
Invest in what’s actually worth your while.
And the tip of the day? Always bring a hammock because you can use it whether you hike or not.