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Happiness According to Mad Men

The other night we were watching Mad Men–(yes I know I am a little late to this party,we finally got on board and started with watching Season 1 and it has lived up to all the hype).  For those of you who are late to the party, like me, Mad Men is a TV show about an advertising agency which takes place in the 50s.  Frequently when we are watching TV/movies I get struck by a random quote, which makes TV watching all the more enjoyable. In the first episode of the first season,  one of the ad execs gave a definition of happiness that made me sit up and scream “yes!!”

“…..And do you know what happiness is?  Happiness is the smell of a new car.  It’s freedom from fear.  It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK. “

So granted, this quote pertains to advertising and the back story involves an ad campaign for Lucky Strike cigarettes shortly after it was released that smoking will kill you, but I have been thinking and thinking about this quote tossing it around seeing if it really fits the general definition of happiness and I believe it does.

When I think to the times the that I have been the happiest, my wedding day, being on vacation, or working with a client.  During those times I was feeling confident, secure, positive and I was getting confident, secure, positive feedback around me.  I knew what I was doing was OK.  I knew I was where I needed to be, making choices I needed to make and was feeling the support of my own gut as well as the people around me.

Similarly I think about days when I am feeling happy vs days I am not and the simple tasks that one day might make me happy while the next day I resent. Walking my dog, Mocha is a great example.  Frequently there are times that I walk her and I just feel giddy…she is excited and joyful, the day is beautiful, we are out of the house getting fresh air and I am fully present and happy.  And then there are days like yesterday when  I head out to walk the dog because I haven’t done so in 3 days and I am bitter and feeling bad that I haven’t walked her, we are running late and that my to do list is a mile long. So I spend the walk feeling insecure, unconfident and ineffective, Not present, Not joyful. Basically…not happy.

I see it frequently with clients who leave my office all excited that they have figured out what comes next in their career, their gut is telling them it is a good idea, the research they have done is telling them it is a good idea and their support system is telling them it is a good idea. They are OK, they are happy.  Then they leave my office, head out into the world to network, job search, apply to grad school and they get rejected, disappointed or hurt and they aren’t feeling reassured anymore they aren’t ok.  They aren’t happy.  But it isn’t because they have picked the wrong career or that their heart can’t sing.  It is the ebbs and flows of happiness.

I do believe happiness comes and goes…there are days when I am more happy, more confident, more self assured then others.  There are days when all pistons are firing, conversations with clients are dead on, writing is fluid and I absolutely adore my job.  And then there are days when I can’t come up with an idea to save my life, client meetings are stilted and cloudy and I question my value as a career counselor.

So how do we fix the unhappy days?  The key I have found (and I open to your thoughts) is to recognize we are going to have off days.  We are going to have days when we aren’t clicking, when the world outside and inside is making us question our choices. The trick comes in recognizing those days are all part of the journey.  Happiness will come, we will feel OK again.  The power in change is keeping moving, keep carrying on even when we are having an off day, even when we aren’t ‘feeling it’ knowing that it is a temporary glitch in our long term plan.  When we can recognize that the self doubt and feeling ‘not ok’ are all part of the process of life we can slow down and let those days pass without taking them on as ‘the truth’.  Then when the happy days come we can celebrate them with gusto!!

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with the quote?  How has happiness or “feeling OK” played out in your life?

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