2018-The Year I Struggled With Happiness

I won't sugar coat it, 2018 was not a great year...not by a long shot. Our daughter had two operations, and is continuing to recover. She's a tiger, but doesn't like the physical therapy that's involved in recovery. My wife has health issues that specialists haven't been able to diagnose, so we go from doctor to doctor without any solid answers. I've also been going through some painful health issues that have forced me to stop doing a lot physical activities I enjoy, and that's been tough to come to grips with.

Physical therapy didn't really help. I've been bounced around from one doctor to another, and not one has been able to firmly diagnose the problems. The time I've spent on the phone with insurance companies and doctor's offices has worn me out, and beaten me into the ground. Honestly, I've just about given up on doctors, and am now focusing more on Eastern medicine. Acupuncture seems to be helping. So are some non-traditional medications I've been prescribed, so I'm trying not to give up hope. 

What I seem to have lost is my happiness, and that bothers me-a lot. My family has noticed it, so have my friends. I'm sure my work colleagues have also picked up that something isn't right. I've tried to explain to a few, in very generalized terms, what's going on with me, but also don't want to bring that baggage into the studio with me each morning. Those four hours I'm on the air are the best four hours of my day. Being on air and focusing on my job also distracts me from my pain.

So how do you bring that happiness back into your life? How do you stop going down a rabbit hole of darkness when you hit one brick wall after another looking for ways to make your family feel better? I don't know. There's still a lot to be thankful for. There are people who are dealing with far worse situations than I am (or we are), and I try to remember that, but it doesn't stop the clouds from trying to cover the sunlight. This has become a daily battle, and it's wearing me down.

Maybe it's all part of being an adult? I've also been married a relatively short time, so looking after anyone besides myself is still somewhat new. It can be scary, frustrating and tiring, but it's part of the job. However, I sometimes wonder if it's a job I wasn't cut out for? My wife says I put too much pressure on myself, and my expectations are too high...but that's me. It's my DNA. It's why I've been fortunate to have the career and life I have. So trying to lower my expectations is going to be a pretty tough order, but I'm trying.

So during the course of 2018, I starting thinking more about happiness, and what it really means. My dad's never believed in true "happiness." He says it's better to be content (and maybe he's right). I started thinking about what makes me happy while I took some time off for the holiday (I do this every year). I've also asked people I ran into, and on social media, "What makes you happy?" Below are a few of the responses:

Brock who lives in Sacramento wrote me and said  "Dancing. Find the creativity you never knew you had, own something that’s completely yours and display it for others to enjoy."

Steve is retired. For him, happiness is "A 65 inch Curved 4K UHD Television makes me happy... Why?.... because I’m old, retired and kind of a “techie”! Also enjoy watching movies... and a good picture plus surround sound CRANKED UP is a plus!"

I've known Norie, who lives in San Diego, for years. She once told me what made her happy was "Our beautiful, colorful, little homegrown garden. I'm not a gardener, but my husband has created this little slice of paradise by not having a master design plan, or following rules of what should grow and flourish, but by simply deciding,  THIS will be a perfect addition to our backyard menagerie."

So there you go. The definition of "happiness" is different for all of us. I'm still working on mine. I know a cup of tea and reading the Sunday newspaper brings me happiness. So does travel. Seeing my kids laugh and my wife smile also makes me happy. The best I can come up with is the older we get, the more we're buried by work, bills, family obligations and health issues. The 24/7 cycle of (often) depressing news doesn't help, so our "happiness" gets pushed down, buried deeper and deeper within us.

I guess, like a bulb that's been planted in tough, rocky soil, it just means we have to push a little harder to bring that happiness to the surface. Like a project that needs to be completed, or a diet we try and stick to, we have to be mindful of letting that happiness shine through each day. 

Dan Mitchinson

Dan Mitchinson

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