Happiness v. Fulfillment [blog post]

Posted: February 23, 2018 by zenstitcher in Finished Stitches
Tags: , , , ,

Die Mad About It, from AE Matson, MetPubInc/GCXSD

As you can see, I finished the model stitch for Die Mad About It yesterday.

Afterward, I had all the usual feelings I expect when completing a large cross stitch project — joy, pride, and even a little wistful sadness because that part of the experience was over — but the sense of accomplishment I felt after this one stuck with me for hours and hours, so much so that I had to check myself a bit. So, as I rolled the extra water out of the linen with a dry towel, then laid it out face down to press, I thought about what was different about this one, when so much seemed the same.

The obvious answer is that so much more of this one was mine, right from the start. The saying itself I picked up from a tweet by Melanie Dione (@beauty_jackson), after it went  viral. The font and border motif I adapted from a PDF in the Antique Pattern Library, choosing the colors, then modifying it a bit for modern eyes. The design itself is my effort, my time, my inspiration, skull sweat, with the support of my stitchy sisters on facebook. I committed to the model stitch knowing it was a large project (15 inches across), then saw it through, marking every single mistake and change on the paper printout to input into the design software.

After I figured I’d steamed enough water out of it, I flipped it over and realized I was feeling something I haven’t felt in a very, very long time. It was more than simple joy, or even accomplishment. For the first time in ages, I felt fulfilled. I remember feeling this way the first time I read Raven’s Tears after we’d published it. Not  so much with Dead Man’s Triggerbut there were extenuating circumstances that kept me from feeling happy about much of anything, let alone “fulfilled”.

That’s three times in… four years.

Anyway, I realized, slowly, painfully, that this is what’s missing from all those conversations we’ve been having about why so many of us “aren’t happy” when so many of the pieces are in place, and we feel as if we should be. It’s not anyone else’s fault, it’s nothing anyone has done or hasn’t done, said or hasn’t said. It’s not necessarily that anything is missing. I’m not upset, angry, worried, frustrated, or anything like that. It’s just that, in general, I’m not… happy. And, that’s not something anyone else can fix.

Maybe we’ve been using the wrong metric. “Happiness” is a fleeting state, it’s a mood, it appears and passes like all the others do. Maybe it was a mistake for us to focus on trying to hold on to “happiness”, like trying to hold a wave on the sand, or a cloud in the sky. Maybe what we’re really missing is “fulfillment”, because we’ve been enculturated to believe in happiness, and that it’s somehow supposed to be our “default state.”

im-so-happy-9unp1n

Now, I kinda suspect that I’ve been sold a bill of goods on that.

My guess is that we’re meant to lead creative lives, not necessarily happy ones, and that creative pulse, the one that sets us free and lets us experience a fulfilled life is unique to each of us. It’s worth noting that I still feel fulfilled, after bringing my new project into the world, and it’s well into the next day. I’ve been mildly happy and/or unhappy a half-dozen times since then, but that underlying sense of accomplishment is buoying me up when a lot of other BS could be bringing me down.

I want every human being to lead a life where fulfillment is the default state.

I wonder what an entire society of fulfilled human beings looks like, and how it functions. I bet they spend a fuck of a lot less money on things in an attempt to fill that internal hole with “happiness” — which explains a lot, when you think about the constant advertising assault we live with, every day.

Something to ponder.

 

 

 

 

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