It’s spring break, and we’re on a family vacation with the Big Man’s parents.
We’re staying at a beautiful resort, and having a lovely time. The girls are behaving themselves, I didn’t forget to pack anything important like Little Swimmer diapers or contact lens solution, the weather is glorious, and the Diet Coke is plentiful.
But my enjoyment is clouded by one annoyance, and I’m absurd enough to let it affect my mood: my laptop isn’t getting wireless service.
The Big Man’s wireless service works. Mine worked initially, not anymore. Because of this glitch, I feel helpless, frustrated, and cut off (because I can’t get my email). I’m having to re-type this post onto the Big Man’s computer, after writing it on my machine. Once again, I note that there’s something particularly unnerving and unpleasant about the failure of a communication device — compared, for example, to a busted hairdryer.
Do I recognize the utter preposterousness of my complaint, relative to the extraordinary and real hardships experienced by most people? Do I realize how spoiled, and fretful, and demanding I sound? Do I know that I should stop worrying about work and enjoy a vacaction?
But it’s taking all my happiness-project discipline to keep this one irritation from zapping my mood. Even more than usual, I’m trying to remember my duty to be happy. The whole point of coming here is to have fun. If I’m testy, if I’m complaining, I’ll dull everyone’s fun.
I’ve heard the saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” or in other words, “Happy wife, happy life.” When I first heard these aphorisms, I though that sounded great — yipeeee, it’s all about pleasing me! — but if true, it’s a tremendous responsibility.
Because of “emotional contagion,” one person’s moods affect other people’s moods, and unfortunately, bad moods are more contagious than good moods — and “Mama’s” moods are perhaps more contagious than anyone else’s.
My dissatisfaction points out the hazard of the “hedonic treadmill.” We enjoy some new luxury, for a time, but soon we start taking it for granted; it no longer gives us particular enjoyment, but feels like a necessity. Think about air-conditioning, car radios, cable TV, cell phones. And now, wireless service.
Gosh, writing this (or rather, re-typing it) is making me truly comprehend the pettiness of my complaint. I feel like an idiot — but now I feel happier.