Happiness Replay: The Simple Joy of Slogging Through to the End (from 01/04/13)


When I started this blog, I made a commitment to add a new post every day.  Some might be slighter than others, but there will be something new every day for anyone interested in undertaking a personal journey to happiness, or following my learning curve of self-publishing, or just seeing how another human being thinks and approaches life.

I almost failed on day three.

Tuesday’s post, “Days are Lost Lamenting Over Lost Days,” almost didn’t make it to your screen.  I wrote it in plenty of time.  I had it all set to go, and I took all the necessary steps to post it, then something hinky started happening on the WordPress site.

I’m new to this, so I don’t know if this is the norm or not, but my post kept disappearing.  Then it would have the wrong format.  Then, I would edit it, fix all the formatting problems (using my very limited HTML knowledge), “publish” it, proofread it, click away from it and click back to find all the formatting gone again.  I’m not exaggerating when I say this happened more than 10 times.

There was much screaming at the computer.  And a little crying.

For a moment, I hit a point where I thought this was too much of a pain and nobody would notice if I didn’t post anything today and it’s not my fault anyway and forget it, who needs this crap?!

Then, I got up, walked the dog, came back and decided to start over.  Luckily, early on in the digital disintegration of my sanity, I’d copied a correctly formatted version into a word document, so I had something to start with.  I also recognized that the problem might be some glitch in the signals my computer was sending to the site, so I calmly restarted the machine, cleared my browser history, dumped my cookies, erased the cache, and miraculously, the upload worked.

I had to go back in and format it all in HTML again, and I’ve learned some painful lessons about working in WordPress (so don’t be surprised if I announce a new location for this blog in the future), but I have to say, seeing it on the site, working, as I’d written it, felt GREAT.

There is a simple joy that comes from just slogging through a difficult, frustrating, incomprehensible thwarting and reaching your goal.  Remember this next time you feel you can’t get to the finish line.

Some tips for doing so:

1. When you find yourself losing control (e.g. screaming at the computer), walk away.  Surely there is something you can do for five minutes to restore clarity.

2.  Acknowledge that the problem might be on your end, and see what you can change that might fix it.

3.  Say this out loud:  “Happy people don’t lose it over one thing not working. I can make this work, and if I can’t, it won’t ruin my day/night/life.”

4. Do everything in your power to slog it out until the end.  You will be overjoyed at the accomplishment, even more than if it had gone off without a glitch.  Be grateful for the obstacle, since it increased your happiness in the long run.

5.  Reward yourself.  We went out for Chinese food.  It was terrible.  I don’t know why, but I find that so amusing that it makes the reward even greater.  I’m smiling now just thinking about how bad it was.

The leftovers are in the fridge.


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7 thoughts on “Happiness Replay: The Simple Joy of Slogging Through to the End (from 01/04/13)

    • Valerie Alexander Post author

      Coincidentally, I was struggling with a new video editing program today that was making me tear my hair out when this popped up in my inbox (most blog posts are pre-programmed a week ahead, so I kind of forget about them). I was SO grateful for it. It actually helped. A lot.

  • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    The leftovers should be in the garbage! Don’t ‘reward’ yourself twice in the same way. Unless you can resurrect them and improve them – and then you may as well start from scratch.

    I think it’s called hoarding. Take it from someone a bit older: you won’t need 99% of the things you save, but 1% will make you so happy to have ‘foresight’ that it ruins your resolve to leave a sparcer, cleaner life. If you add up the storage space, and the time in your brain, you can usually buy it again for less when you do need it.

    The psychological/behavioral term is ‘variable intermittent reward’ – the strongest kind of positive reinforcement for behavior there it – pigeons will keep pecking forever if they occasionally get a kernel of corn for a reward.

    You and the pigeons should spend you time otherwise (not that the pigeons in experiments have much of a choice).

    I have the same problem surging the web: there is occasionally such an unbelievable reward that I keep doing it. I have hundreds of links to these ‘rewards’ – I may never get back to most of them, but they flooded my brain with endorphins at the time.

    Sorry for the detour – but I have found that an occasional failure (not getting the promised scene up on a Tuesday, etc.) is good for the soul. Get a failure in, quick. Then the resolution is picked up, dusted, adjusted to be more realistic – and works just fine.

    Unrealistic expectations are the source of much unhappiness: I lower mine until I can succeed realistically a good portion of the time – and raise them if I’m achieving success so regularly that they are no longer challenging.

    Be happy, not perfect. Perfect isn’t achievable, anyway.