Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Depriving Ourselves of Happiness

My absolute-favorite class that I ever took in college was Psychology of Women. Although this was in an HBCU, the class was taught by, Dr. Hall, a white, middle-aged, dashiki-wearing, martial arts-instructing, woman who'd been to and knew more about Africa than all of us (in the class) put together.
Scenario #1
Pat: I'm kinda bummed that no one from dance class wished me a happy birthday, a couple of weeks, ago.
Chris: Yeah. That's not a good feeling. Are you sure they knew it was your birthday?
Pat: They should've known from last year.
Chris: So, you didn't mention it a couple of weeks or days before-hand?
Pat: Nope.

At first glance, Dr. Hall made us reconsider the things we thought we already knew ourselves and the world in which we live. When she spoke, she took that to the next level by asking us questions we'd never considered, telling about topics we'd never heard of (like FGM), and giving us the opportunity to reconsider things we've taken for granted, about our daily lives.
Scenario #2
Jamie: Why didn't you go to the New Year's Eve party?
Terry: I wanted to go with you, but you never asked me about it.
Jamie: I didn't know. Why didn't you bring it up - or ask me out?
Terry: I was waiting on you to make the first move. I'm still waiting.
Jamie: Oh. If I'd known, we could've gone out some time. I'm in a relationship, now, though.

Throughout this post are examples of one of the biggest lessons I learned from Dr. Hall: we often actively, deprive ourselves of happiness for the silliest of reasons.
Scenario #3
Bailey: I can't believe you didn't get me anything for Valentine's Day.
Dale: You said Valentine's Day was a silly holiday.
Bailey: Yeah, but I thought you'd get me something, anyway.

It'd be great of people remembered Pat's birthday without having to be reminded days or weeks, in-advance, but that doesn't always happen. With that in-mind, why shouldn't Pat give them a heads-up? Stubbornly choosing not to do so because of an often-unrealized ideal only hurts one person, in the long-run.

Terry and Jamie liked each other, but Terry's silence resulted in the one thing worse than love lost... and that's the love that never came to be. What's wrong with simply saying, "I like you," to that special person? Is it better to watch someone else end up with him or her, instead?

Bailey and Dale are already in a relationship, but it suffers unnecessarily when Bailey's words and expectations don't match.

Often, our pride, silence, social roles, and mixed signals often lead to poor communication and, ultimately, they lead to us not getting what we say we want the most. Maybe it's time to switch tactics.

I'll always be grateful to Dr. Hall for showing and teaching me that there are enough barriers to our professional, romantic, social, and familial happiness without us making it harder for ourselves.


Miz JJ said...

Recently, my friend just broke up with her boyfriend. She gave one example of how we was always self-involved. He invited her to come away with him on a work trip. They were having a "romantic" dinner but he was staring off into space. She asked what was wrong and he said he was worried about his presentation for the next day. She told him since he had suggested they go to dinner she figured he was all prepared. He said he was, but he could not stop thinking about it. She said he could leave, if he wanted to and go back to the hotel and work on it. Buddy got up from the table and left. Now, part of me is saying if you wanted him to stay you should have said to stay, but another part of me can not believe someone would be so self-involved that they would really leave someone sitting alone in a restaurant instead of waiting 15 minutes for them to finish up their meal.

I do sometimes think that life would be easier if everyone said what they meant.

Angie said...

I think communication is paramount in all relationships. It makes all the difference. Clear and honest communication leads to better sex, more intimacy and more trust.

Shai said...

I think alot of folks take for granted verbal communication. Yes, once you are with someone for a while you get to know them and read them. Yet, a person should not assume a person will "know' all the time what is going on. That is so unfair.

Now if you make your needs known and your partner does not get then it is time to sit down and talk about it.

B. Good said...

Yeah, I'm in the process of learning this lesson, and fine-tuning my verbal communication. I can pull SEVERAL examples from my life where if I had just spoke up or spoke clearer, I might not have deprived myself of some happiness. Trying to avoid that going forward. Thanks for the reminder

*the Psychology of Women......I need to take that class*