“Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay. ” ~ Don Draper, Mad Men
There are few television shows that Ben and I both enjoy. The latest we have discovered is AMC’s Mad Men. It’s a simply fantastic drama that depicts the lives of advertising executives in Manhattan during the 1960s. An episode we watched last week spurred a conversation – about the difference between happiness and contentment. When you’re optimist married to a cynic, or as he would claim “realist”, this conversation is bound to be a good time.
Ben has always told me that happiness is fleeting. It is temporary, a place in time, not a state of being. It is not something to be pursued because it can not be sustained. If I ever ask him if he is happy, I get a remark along these lines. Always. For a long time, I disagreed with his view of happiness. But I’ve grown to learn (or he’s convinced/brainwashed me) that happiness is indeed transient.
I haven’t always been happy here in Florida. Much of that was because of my own attitudes and struggle as I adjusted to life here. I continue to miss dear friends and family, my old town, and working for a cause I believe in. But I’ve come to accept – dare I say enjoy – my circumstances. I’ve entered into a state of contentment. The two may occur simultaneously, but I believe contentment is a steadfast way of being, while happiness is an easily-altered mood or behavior. Life in the Navy has reminded me that so much, even in my own life, is out of my control. All I can control is how I handle what comes my way.
After our conversation, I was filled with a sense of gratitude. The things I struggle with most – loneliness and being apart from the ones I love (besides Ben, of course) – still exist. But I’ve learned to make my life about what I have, not what I lack. And I am so incredibly blessed. Life will continue to have it’s difficulties, but Ben and I have weathered many storms together. I am thankful for the confidence I have in our relationship and the strength we have developed together.
“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.”