An Unhappy Perception
I hate that Pharrell song, “Happy!” Every time I hear it, I cringe. I want to pull my stereo system
out of my car. (Is it even called a stereo system anymore?) I think Pharrell is antagonizing with
“Because I’m happy—Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof. Because I’m
happy—Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth … Because I’m happy.”
First of all, even if I were “Happy” I would never feel like a room without a roof. What is that supposed to mean?
Bottom line is: I’m not happy.
I am a mother of two healthy, smart girls. Ages 13 and 4. I am the wife of a hard working
husband. I have a career of my own that I have been pretty successful at. Both of my parents are
still alive. I live in Los Angeles where it is always sunny! (Even though that “sunny blue sky” is
causing a drought.) I’m healthy and in good shape. We have pets and live in a nice home. Why
am I not Happy?
Well, I guess that is a long story, right? But not really. I’ve never felt “happy.” Not when I
graduated from NYU with my MFA. Not when I was making a lot of money for a job I loved to do.
Maybe, joyous, when I gave birth to my 2nd daughter. But was that the drugs making me feel
joyous? Not happy when I gave birth to my 1st daughter. It was 10 days after 9/11/2001, and I
was a few blocks away when the event happened, so I was in shock when I gave birth to
her, and I don’t remember feeling anything besides pain and anticipating eventual death.
Am I happy when I do a “Girls Night Out?” No. Not happy. Maybe feisty. Or silly. Not happy.
What is happy? How can we be happy in this world when really bad things are happening all over
the place? Wouldn’t it be selfish to be “happy” and “clapping” while others are getting beheaded
because of the very things this country offers us, which are supposedly going to make us
I always feel a sense of trepidation. I’m untrusting of the seemingly good. I don’t know if it’s
because I’m from New York City and everyone there is moving really fast and doing a lot of things
in a day, and no one there cares how you feel. It’s a hard place. A place made of concrete
and glass. A cold and rainy place. That’s the place I am from.
Does Ice Cream make me happy? Puppies? My children on Christmas morning? No, Ice Cream
has too many calories and will make me fat. Puppies? Hell NO! Puppies are so much work, and
they grow up to be dogs who only live 10 years, and then they die. What’s happy about that? My
children on Christmas morning? No. I’m too preoccupied thinking about how much money we
spent. How much debt we put on the credit cards, and if my children should really be getting all
these gifts while there are children sitting somewhere else who are getting nothing. I’m negative.
I look at the glass half empty. Because it is… it’s almost empty.
I would really like to be happy. I wonder if others are really happy? Do they just not think that
much about it? Do they live in oblivion? Denial? How do others do it? I’d love to know what
makes you “happy.” Is it that you feel like “a room without a roof?”
I’d like my children to be happy. I’d like them to grow up to at least feel content. But happy and
content are two very different things. Ironically, I am considered funny. I make people laugh. I am
hired for jobs because I am funny. That makes me feel good. That what I do or say, or how I see
it makes others laugh. I enjoy that when I able to do it. Am I depressed? Hmmm. No. I don’t think
so. I don’t want to not get out of bed. I like to get up and go about my day and participate. I have
good intentions every morning to be pleasant and easy going. I’m not sure it turns out like that on
any day. Am I unhappy? What does that mean? Maybe I should ask Pharrell. Maybe I am
unhappy. But why?
It was recently suggested to me to concentrate on my breath. To close my eyes and breathe
through the seconds until I get to the minutes and breathe through the minutes until I get to the
hours and so on. And it was suggested just to think about positive things while I am breathing. To
just think about letting one breath turn into the next breath and so on. I’ve tried this suggestion.
And so far, I haven’t felt “happiness” but I have felt a difference. I have felt less strangled by the idea
of happiness and the pressure I feel to know it. I have felt more content and less detached from the
rest of the world.
I’m part of a spiritual group that shares similar thoughts. And as a group, I see us grappling with
this idea of “Happiness.” I see many faces, from all walks of life struggling to smile. Actually Pharrell, I can’t clap along with you because I don’t think happiness is the truth. I think everyone’s truth is different and my truth is happiness is very rare and hard to come by. I don’t think I am the only one who feels this way. I don’t see many people clapping.