Saturday, February 09, 2013

Fog Happiness

"Fog happiness is the kind of happiness you get from activities that, closely examined, don't really seem to bring much happiness at all - yet somehow they do."
 - Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project)

So what is "fog happiness"?

I had never heard of it before until I read about it in Gretchen Rubin's now famous book The Happiness Project.

I have been reading this slowly and have been writing about some of the notions, observations and realizations that ring true to me. For example, Hostess Neurosis.

There will be more I am sure...but this one focuses on what Rubin calls "fog happiness".

Rubin writes: "In many ways, the happiness of having children falls into the kind of happiness that could be called fog happiness. Fog is elusive. Fog surrounds you and transforms the atmosphere, but when you try to examine it, it vanishes."

She continues: "Many activities that I consider enjoyable aren't much fun while they are happening - or ahead of time or afterwards. Throwing a party. Giving a performance. Writing. When I stop to analyze my motions during the various stages of these activities, I see procrastination, dread, anxiety, nervousness, annoyance at having to do errands and busywork, irritation, distraction, time pressure and anticlimax. Yet these activities undoubtedly make me 'happy'."

And on she goes: "And so it is with raising children. At any one time, the negative may swamp the positive, and I might wish I were doing something else. Nevertheless, the experience of having children gives me tremendous fog happiness. It surrounds me, I see it everywhere, despite the fact that when I zoom in on any particular moment, it can be hard to identify."


I don't usually quote quite so much from a single source, but since this notion of "fog happiness" really caught my attention as it resonated with me, and yet I had never heard the term before (probably since I had never read this book before and Rubin coined the term), I felt I needed to explain a little - in her words - in case you have not had the chance to read it yet (which, so far, I highly recommend you do!).

In the book, she talks about all of this in the larger framework of parenting and how in her own, personal 'Happiness Project', she set certain resolutions for herself to lighten up in this area.

Basically, instead of seeing the fog...look beyond it and notice the small, little moments that make parenthood (or anything else for that matter) enjoyable.

In my own experience, like any other parent, I often find it hard to see the happy moments from the fog (kind of the opposite - albeit using a different metaphor - of seeing the forest from the trees).

We go through our days...trying to find our way through the fog...stumbling...complaining...squinting to see all of the things on our long to-do lists.

And because of all of the "fog"...we sail right past the little, bright moments of joy that present themselves everyday.

The way your baby sings in his crib every morning. The look on your daughter's face when she brings home a wicked grade on the test she studies so hard for. The taste of the homemade meatballs your mother-in-law made because she knows you love them so much.

Parenting is frickin' hard shit peeps and we all know it. That fog can be pretty think sometimes.

But if someone were to ask you what brought you your greatest sense of happiness in your life...what would your answer be?

I know that the fog cleared pretty quickly when I asked myself that very question just now.

And I know you know my answer.




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