Culture: What Is Happiness For You? by Kyle Phoenix

Its been a challenging couple of years.  Not the worst ever that I've experienced but these past few years have really changed some of the concepts I had of myself and where I was going and what I was doing.  I often think about happiness, my own, and family and friends' and I imagine what could I do to make them happy.  Then sometimes i sit back and really look at my own sadness---ill parents, the instability of teaching from the place you work at to the outcome of the students---I'm never sure if I've gotten it right, if I've made a substantial difference, if a good program is in process or if this is merely the iteration of an idea that needs to be hashed out some more.  

Then I have this other project of The Kyle Phoenix Show and the associated blogs, websites, podcasts, development designs and trying to think about how to develop this whole thing into something useful and helpful.  It makes me pleased some times and frustrated other times because I'm not exactly media obsessed but it demands that I learn about how to create, distribute and control media.  It's not something I've normally had to think about: my public image.  That's even weird for me to see in a detached way to myself now.  I'm reading two books on narcissism and media---I go on tears, this one actually came from developing workshops, shows and blogs around passive aggressiveness and dealing with many narcissists in my work---and I was struck by how unrelated to my own happiness attention is to me.  

I've been trying to discern what makes me happy, what kinds of things I want to do, where to go, what to study, how to enter the next third of life more intentionally.  There are things I'm not satisfied with, but who doesn't have some of those?  But now an element of my life is about being in front of a room or a camera or presentations where I'm trying to convey some nugget of information and emotionally I'm generally expected to be reasonably upbeat and happy.  I have to be emotionally present in certain ways that demand that I'm reasonably okay with myself.  I even get lots of push and pull from people who are wrestling with the value of whatever it is I'm sharing.  There have been only two negative incidents in the past three years of intensive school/teaching where I've been doing more than 40 hours of both a week, trying to integrate new knowledge from university in the design of schools and how to focus adult learning to the implementation of those skills, sometimes in the same week---the ride is exciting most times but I never notice it within the ride.

Again I return to happiness and am I happy?  I suppose that for us all it's a decision of which side of the yes or no you fall onto but there's a gap of gray space so sometimes I'm more happy and others times I'm less happy, but I am happy.  I am pleased with the things I've gathered so far in life.  I do think about death, it's been a decade of death in my family, so I often pick up the phone from relatives and it's the report of who's passed away or close to it.  I guess I meander through this blog, the personal ones are always the less concise to my ear and eye   but I do know that somehow I keep re-birthing myself.  

All this happiness questioning came from working on my Vitae, an academic resume/record of what I've done, produced, written/published, taught, etc. over the course of time.  I'm often stunned by how much I do, the product, the output because I never think it's enough, not from measuring myself against others but because I'm not sure if it creates happiness.  It represents a form of happiness, most of the stuff on my Vitae I liked doing in some form or another, I liked the creation of it whether I cared for the total outcome.  One of the things I've learned over these past few intensive years is that in education it never quite meets outcome vision.  I've spent a lot of the past few months really doing intensive writing about my work, it's presentation time; time to articulate what I observed and learned from my vantage points in the classroom.  

My point?  How do you measure your own happiness?  Is it an ongoing process or something that you've found is elusive?  Do you feel like an essentially happy person, honestly or are you at war with it?  I consider this because of how much unhappiness I often hear (or is emailed to me) from workshops/groups.  So many men in particular are unhappy with their race, their work, their sexuality, their loneliness.  Sometimes when I'm sitting with people with my best professional face on, sometimes even with friends, I'm saddened by the lost, sad people I'm seeing who do small and huge destructive things.  I watch them thinking that an unhealthy relationship or drugs or drinking or lying or narcissism or adulation or magic or stuff will bring them a sense of peace, of happiness.  
I was looking at one of the bookcases near my bed, it's barely the tip of my book iceberg, so I was imagining all of my books in bookcases along a long wall, and the DVDs  and the CDs and the magazines and that was making me happy to think of that perfect picture.  Ironically I was reading a book about death of parents and examining for happiness and contentment and liberation but somehow I got kind of happy thinking about all of these things, light and dark and the happiness that we take and miss in ourselves.

Thank you for reading,
Kyle Phoenix
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