Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Myth of Happiness

I read a recent article about a non-LDS woman who finds herself obsessed with Mormon Mommy-type blogs. Now, although I am both Mormon and a Mommy, and though I blog, this blog is not really a Mormon Mommy type blog (though I do sort of have one). I'm not really sure what type of blog this is, to be honest. I suppose, like the title suggests, it documents my spiritual and emotional life, the things I think about and struggle with on an internal level.

I don't know that most of what I blog about here are strictly "happy" things. They are faithful and hopeful, I hope, but not particularly "happy".

In reading the comments, I noted that an overwhelming number of the comments treated the Mormon Mommy blogs as fake. Whether they supposed they were commercial or evangelical efforts, the general consensus seemed to be that "Mormon women cannot be as happy as they seem, so they are being deceptive. Deception is for a reason, therefore they must be getting something out of this." Plenty of people cited the old Utah Women Take Antidepressants study, many others delighted in highlighting the "dark side" that must exist.

Of course there is some filtering when it comes to blogs. Whatever the main focus of the blog, not everything in a blogger's life ends up online. But these women have chosen to highlight the things that bring them joy. Very few of them sound to me like their "faking it until they make it" online. They genuinely seem to find things to be happy about. Of course, it is possible that if they were suffer some life-altering disaster, such as divorce or losing a child, that the walls would come tumbling down, but as NieNie has demonstrated, this isn't necessarily the case.

I think this is the key. Too often, we expect to be happy when certain conditions are met. But I believe that true happiness is generally unconditional. It is a choice. I've had a really hard time in my life the past several years. And yet, there are many things that have brought me immense joy. Some of those things I remember to chronicle in my "mommy blog", but some of them are just for me. Some of these things are things that others might not expect me to find joy in, given my circumstances, such as the doctrine of eternal families, having occasional alone time, watching my children grow.

True, I could look at the lives of some of these women and be jealous. To be honest, sometimes I am. The husband/provider, wife/caretaker dichotomy is something I worked really hard for, believed in, and lost. But though I mourn that loss for myself, I can also find joy in the evidence that it can work, and I find so much joy in the wonderful blessings I do still have.

So I don't think that happiness is a myth. I just don't think it is what some people think it is. And maybe that's why so many are "obsessed" with Mormon Mommy blogs. They sense something beyond the surface of reupholstering chairs, photographing children in pumpkin patches, and keeping a spotless house. Something that has nothing to do with lifestyle.

They sense the reality of happiness.


  1. I agree. We all filter stuff for the public. And I see what seems like real happiness in these mommy blogs.

  2. I really liked your post. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I hope we filter before we publish to the internet and ink our thoughts permanently to the world. I do hope people take the time to present their true views and not emotionally charged rants that are frequently on FB and other social networking sites.

    The ideology that the “grass is greener” is as sold as man. Someone somewhere will always think that their perception of someone else is true, regardless of the obvious reality that nobody has a perfect yard. If you want greener grass then fertilize your soil, plant quality seed, water it, weed it, and tend to it year round. I guarantee the occasional weed, crab grass, moss or mole will still appear. Perhaps even a section dies off – those who we think are happier or who lack trials don’t actually have less, they just know how to do better damage control.

    The reality, I hope, of these Mormon Mommy bloggers is that they look at the jungle of problems that might be growing in their yard and know that with hard work they can tame it; manicure it back into the more recognizable lawn that they had before because they have the skills to do so. They are taught daily how to manage them. The gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t take away their occasional weed or dead patch but it does give them the skills to endure, solve, and cope as well as reminding them that they will always have someone to help them with it - and that in itself is happiness that should be shouted from every blog so that others can have it to.

    Let me just say also that Mormon’s are not perfect – I am plenty imperfect as are my fellow church members. However, anyone who has a desire to learn and know God and act upon that knowledge really should be able to see the brighter, cheerier side of most of life’s weeds, as well as having the skills to deal with said weed. Not to say that we don’t occasionally get bogged down in the mud of it at times, like anyone else, but we know now to clean ourselves off and get back to work tending our grass.


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