Happy despite everything

I’m in a group for Gen Xers and someone posed this question: describe your life right now in three words. There were lots of complaints, particularly about how the chaos of this year is treating them, and several that were focused on alcohol and drugs. My answer was “happy despite everything” and it’s the truth.

Somehow I’m managing to appreciate the good things about my life, even in spite of the very alarming political state of the country right now and that my husband is going through chemo. This weekend is a chemo weekend for him and it’s a particularly tough round, so I almost feel guilty for feeling like my life is good overall while he’s suffering so much.

But maybe it’s that I’ve learned to find peace and even happiness in the midst of uncertainty. This year has brought several good changes, such as my husband’s job and me getting another client who doubled my writing income, but it’s also had a hell of a lot of challenges. There’s been the appalling shit show of this presidency, Covid, the effects of climate change as seen in increased natural disasters, record unemployment (including my kids), and the granddaddy of them all, my husband’s cancer.

There’s no question that the cancer is hard enough on me—which pales in comparison to how hard it is on him. But I try my hardest to keep an optimistic attitude, which is pretty easy on the non-chemo weeks. The chemo weeks are of course much harder, again much more so for him than for me. But I am learning to just go with the flow. This is the new norm, for now at least.

I’m also going through perimenopause, which is full of suckiness. But as with everything else, I’ve adopted this attitude that things are what they are and I have little power to change the things that make me feel unhappy. So instead, I make the conscious choice to be happy. I still have moments when I complain, sure—especially compared to my husband’s stoicism, I must seem like a huge complainer in comparison.

Yet overall, I can truthfully say that I’m happy despite everything. It’s not about pretending that the bad stuff doesn’t exist or being fake about things. Instead, it’s more about finding peace that transcends circumstances.


  1. skinnyhobbit says:

    That’s incredible. I definitely don’t think you complain a lot, but maybe that’s because I’m wary of stoicism

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Holly says:

      Thanks, Jus! I feel like I complain a bit about little things that frustrate me but I usually get over it quickly. I’m also a little wary of stoicism…it often seems like it’s actually repression.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. skinnyhobbit says:

        I find that it helps when me and friends vent about “little” things. It seems to ease a cranky mood, especially for my friends who work retail.

        Stoicism often seems like repressing or suppressing emotions to me too. My grandparents’ generation (during and after WW2) were often lauded as tough stoics who never complained, but to be honest, their stoicism meant they weren’t verbally or emotionally expressive (unless they were coldly angry), which meant a lot of their children and grandchildren (my generation) felt really unloved. I have so many memories of trying to tell my grandfathers I loved them but they barely acknowledged it, much less said it back. They also weren’t demonstrative in other ways and tbh the only time I heard “I love you too” was when they were literally dying.


      2. Holly says:

        Venting sometimes is necessary too, I think. As long as it doesn’t become your whole personality or outlook, sometimes it’s a very healthy coping mechanism.

        I tend to agree with you about our grandparents’ generation getting so much credit for that stoicism, but the end result was that they weren’t very verbally emotionally expressive. Unfortunately, I see that a lot in my husband with our kids too. They admire the hell out of him for his work ethic but don’t talk to him a lot otherwise. I often feel like I’m running interference on his behalf, making sure they know that he loves them dearly even if he’s not good about saying so.


      3. skinnyhobbit says:

        Sounds difficult that they don’t feel they can be open with him. I’m glad you’re there running interference, and I hope he can learn to be more expressive. Sometimes children, even as adults, need that verbal care.

        It’s probably more common in some cultures (like my Chinese one) to do “acts of service” like offering food or asking if one has eaten, but I feel a message of care that isn’t understood misses the mark, and it’s better to talk in the receiver’s love language.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Good on you! I think this the best way to be. Because things happens and so much can happen at once. We still have to carry on. Might as well do it as positively as we can.

    I hope things improve for you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Holly says:

      Thanks! I’m just trying to keep an optimistic outlook as much as possible. My family life is great, except for the cancer. Here’s hoping that this will have a good outcome, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Joshua Shea says:

    It may just because I’m part of it, but I think Gen X is largely a filler generation. When we were teenagers, we talked about changing the world, but there wasn’t that much we needed to change in 1993….so what does a generation do? We turn to music and art. I think we’ve got some of the greatest artists in generations, but then Kurt Cobain blew his brains out in April 1994, a month before I graduated high school and I think collectively we just said, “Eh, fuck it, what’s the point?” and now we live these lives where we are still collectively trying to give our generation meaning, but as we hit our 40s and 50s, we’re finally learning happiness is found on a micro-level.

    We’ve never seen the world as it is, like you mentioned and we don’t know how to really respond to this shit show. So we look within and we look to those close to us because as it turns out, that’s where real happiness lies, not in trying to find your place in the world. I guess it’s better late than never that we learn it.

    Maybe I’m just like the way millenials are toward boomers, but I think when historians look back, “The Greatest Generation” that came before the boomers is going to be the one to blame for a lot of where we ended up. Bunch of narcissists. Greatest Generation? Hardly. Emotionally vacant, quietly addicted, wealth acquisition and socially bankrupt generation is much more accurate.


    1. Holly says:

      Lots of thought-provoking stuff here. I’m about your age—graduated in ‘92–and tend to agree with you that a lot of our generation wanted to change the world but didn’t really know how, mixed with our generational tendency to be overlooked (often even by our own parents.) Add to that the nihilism we felt, between Kurt Cobain’s suicide and the Rodney King riots, and I think you’re right that we collectively said “fuck it” and turned to music and art. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, though.

      I agree completely that happiness is found on a micro-level, especially since so much of it has eluded us on the macro level. I put everything into raising my kids which had its pluses and minuses, but I wanted them to feel more loved than I did and I wanted to raise kids who would feel empowered to really change the world. And it seems to have paid off so far. Now I’m trying to focus on being content in the present moment, no matter what amount of shit is thrown at me.

      I’m not sure how historians will think of the “Greatest Generation,” honestly. They may always get more credit than they deserve. I do think that they may be the last elder generation that gets any respect just for the sake of being elders. The boomers are showing that most of them don’t deserve any respect and it’s hard to imagine that our generation will ever get any credit for anything good.

      Liked by 1 person

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