“It makes me happy. “

I find this phrase incredibly irritating. And I hear it a LOT.

You know, it’s not that I object to people being happy. It’s not that I object to people doing things because it makes them happy. What I object to is a combination of two things: it is used as a reason way too often and because it is used so much, it makes me question their underlying philosophy and values.

Now as for the using it too often, partly it is context. Some of the places where I hear it so often are on some podcasts where the phrase is more or less appropriate to the topic. They are, after all, talking about a hobby that we share for entertainment and pleasure. If they were talking about other things, they might not use that phrase so often. So I don’t truly object to their use of the phrase, it’s just that I get tired of its frequency, but then I also get tired of the frequency with which they use the same adjectives again and again. It takes concentration to stop yourself from always using your favorite terms to describe good things. And they are, ultimately, amateurs, so I don’t really hold it against them.

But underlying the phrase is an approach to life that is all too pervasive in our society, and that bothers me a lot more. What is your reason for doing things? Any things. All kinds of things. Because it makes you happy? If that is your reason for anything and everything, you are an incredibly selfish person. (NOTE, please, that I am not accusing the aforementioned podcasters of this attitude; in fact, my general impression is that they are generous, nice people. For them, it’s all about context.) If that is your reason for some things, that is understandable and acceptable. But where is the balance point?

Being a Christian, my underlying philosophy of life does not automatically assume that everything I do in life is to make me happy. In fact, there are plenty of reasons to do things that are not about my happiness. Serving God and serving others are excellent reasons for doing things that you personally don’t like or enjoy. Over time, as you grow spiritually, doing those things in the spirit of service means that you will eventually come to gain pleasure from them, not in a self-mortifying way but with an eyes-on-the-prize attitude that ultimately sanctifies even the most annoying and unpleasurable tasks. But pleasure is not the reason for doing those things. I have taken on tasks that I don’t necessarily like in order to serve others. For example, I do not regard cleaning things as particularly happy-making, but I can remember at least once going to a Christian sister’s house and helping to clean her bathroom while she was down with a leg injury. And I walked away pleased, but I still didn’t enjoy cleaning the toilet. (Many children make for dirty bathrooms.)

What bothers me most, I think, is that the it-makes-me-happy reason is cited all too often. I’m not seeing or feeling the balance in people’s lives that helps me know that they are making those choices only some of the time, not all the time. So I am left with the thought that as a society, our attitudes are unbalanced and more selfish than not.

And that worries me.

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Hungry again

I really hate having to count calories in any way, shape, or form. (I think I may need to change my attitude about this.)

Once again, I stared at my weight and realized that the five pounds I had lost were now regained. So once again, I had to return to focusing on what I was eating, how much I was eating, and when I was eating it.

The first time I significantly lost weight was when I used Weigh Down Workshop, which was lovely. I didn’t have to count calories, I just had to pay attention to what my body was telling me about being hungry and being full. Being hungry was never the problem, but stopping when full — a little more challenging. I probably would have stayed with this program when I needed to return, if some peculiarities hadn’t occurred with the woman who founded it, which led to me just not feeling much trust in either her or the program overall.

In the meantime, I had begun to revise my eating habits in connection with my own interest in natural food, locally produced, and made at home. While I am not obsessive about this — I do eat out, I don’t fret too much when I eat at someone else’s house, etc. — nonetheless I do have a primary focus of avoiding processed foods and eating healthy stuff, not limited by the fear-mongering of the media that constantly touts one type of food as being the magic food that will help you lose weight.

Unfortunately, this makes it a little more difficult to work with diets that tell you to eat this food so many times per day, when it is out of season and I am not going to the grocery store to buy it. This approach to cooking and eating actually adds to the difficulty of doing something like Jenny Craig or LA Fitness. Weight Watchers? maybe, maybe not. I may choose to look into it, eventually.

One book that has been interesting and helpful is The Beck Diet by Judith Beck, as well as a blog I very much enjoy that helps me see that the focus doesn’t need to be so much on the calories as it needs to be on the habits. But in the meantime, I am using the food diary/calories to help me be aware of what and how much I am putting in my body.

Overall, let me be clear, I am healthy. I am not carrying so much weight that I look bad or anything, plus I exercise regularly enough to know that I am in fairly good shape, but I am well aware of the fact that I could look and feel better if I carried a bit less weight.

(actual amount to lose? somewhere between 20 and 40 pounds. I’m not quite sure what is my “ideal” weight, so I am uncertain of the actual goal. But let’s start small — five pounds only.)

So this morning I stick with the simple stuff; the calorie count says I have eaten over 400 calories, it’s still two hours until snack time, and what is my problem? I am hungry.

Eating lunch early! But then what do I do when I am hungry tonight? Figuring out the balance is frustrating and confusing to me, so once again I start to wrestle with this problem. Let’s hope I can keep it up.

First hints of fall

image

The red and orange and yellow comes.

In the middle

I really hate being in the middle.

Family tensions, where I am the one who has good relations with both sides, are enough to drive anyone nuts.

Sometimes this forces me to be a go-between. Sometimes it’s better just to keep my mouth shut. Judgment comes into play in deciding which time is which. Most of the time, I do keep my mouth shut. Annoyance is not all that important. But genuine pain is. And what I really hate is that it is justified pain, ’caused by — I don’t know — laziness? selfishness? indifference? resentment?

God grant me wisdom to know what to do. This time I did say something; hopefully the lesson will stick without repetition, because it is only with repetition of the resultant action that a true benefit/healing will take place.

I really do not enjoy this.

Roundup post September 2010

What special or unusual event occurred?

The church I attend had a general retreat, which I enjoyed quite a bit.

I also did a spinning demo, which was minimally successful. (The location wasn’t great.)

What were my accomplishments this month?

Did a major teaching at work where I got recorded. We hope to use this as part of the basis for the coming online class.

What were my disappointments this month?

We had a minor dustup in the family where I was stuck in the uncomfortable middle position. I think it may be at least semi-resolved, but the underlying problem has no real solution that I can see. Only prayer.

What books/music/shows did I enjoy this month?

Books: Well, I started to keep a list, but it didn’t last! I know I read: World lit only by fire; Handmade nation; reread some of the “In death” series by J.D. Robb; reread some of the Nalini Singh Psy-Changeling series, and considerably more.

Shows – didn’t do it yet but I have tickets to see a Cirque de Soleil show. I haven’t seen one in years, so I’m a trifle excited.

What crafts did I work on this month (not what I finished, but what did I work on)?

  • Made progress on my summerweight cardigan, as in finished the back and started the fronts; also semi-started the sleeves, just to keep things consistent
  • Plugging away at my denim quilt
  • Worked on green socks #16 (#8 for the year)
  • Did a little more work on the shawlette Citron

What fun things did I do with my family and/or friends?

Visited my brother and his family. Visiting my sister is at the end of the month.

What gifts did I give and/or receive?

Mom sent me a check to help celebrate my birthday this month. I also received a nice award at work for some work on teaching that I’ve been doing. I really need to figure out what I want to do with this money. Probably half indulgence and half savings. (I’m thinking of something like a Flip video device. Not sure though.)

What special or unusual purchases did I make?

I had to replace my headphones for my ipod because I – most humiliatingly – CUT the cord when I was working in my garden.

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?

  • My allergies continued to be a big concern, but I feel like the shots have turned a corner in getting things calmer.
  • I had a minor alarm regarding blood pressure, but right now that simply means I am going to monitor it on one of those free machines at work.
  • My brother AND sister keep recommending fish oil.

     

Anything else noteworthy to include?

I don’t really feel any older.

I’m continuing to plan on the 10K in November.

Bloglines and Xmarks are going down, which annoys me considerably.

 

Better late than never.