Another Take on Happiness

Posted on May 27, 2011

I’ve continued to think about the idea of happiness since my last blog post, so when my sister sent me a link to a TED Talk about happiness, I watched.  What I saw and heard really resonates with me.  It’s a 2004 TED talk by Eve Ensler, the woman who wrote The Vagina Monologues (click here to listen). The talk is about how she found a new type of happiness while doing that project, and in the work that has come out of it.

She describes her realization very clearly.

"Happiness exists in action, it exists in telling the truth and saying what your truth is, and it exists in giving away what you want the most."

This strikes a deep chord with me, especially the telling the truth part.  And she is not talking about the truth as in “Did you cheat on your test?” or “Did you eat the last cookie?”  She is talking about a deeper truth, the truths that so many people refuse to see or can’t face.  The truths that individuals, families, countries hide every day.  For Ensler, the truth she found while doing The Vagina Monologues, and in her work that has followed, is that women and girls are suffering and all too often are not given a chance to express that.  She talks about that being her experience as a child, and how working to give voice to girls and women she has been able to heal.

I feel like our society discourages truth.  We are meant to be happy, put on a good face.  We are not meant to talk about the pain and difficulty of growing older.  We just get plastic surgery.  We are not meant to talk about the difficulties of pregnancy or the stress that having children puts on a marriage.  We are supposed to revel in our sweet babies and buy the best strollers, clothes and toys, and send a boasting holiday card each and every year.  We are meant to be grateful for our job because it’s a “good company” and we have benefits.  We’re not supposed to talk about how it’s killing our soul.

For better or worse, I am a truth teller.  It doesn’t always serve me well, but it’s all I know.  As I have gotten older, I’ve learned to be more skillful and sometimes subtle in telling my truth with others.

It was a relief when I started to train to be a life coach.  It was all about telling the truth!  And people wanted me to say more, tell more.  I had learned to hide my truth and people were asking me to bring it out again…they wanted more.

And now my job is to hear people’s truth.  It’s exactly what Ensler says about happiness existing when we give away what we want the most.  That’s me!  What I have always wanted in my life, personal and professional, is to be seen and be heard.  As I coach, I am able to give people a place to be seen and heard…to speak their truth.

It feels right, and I’d even say I’m happy, in this pursuit.

What is your truth?