Before going to bed last night I told my husband, “I ate six Girl Scout Cookies for dessert.” He said, “I bet that made you happier than a big diamond ring.” “It did,” I said. “It really did.”
There is very little that makes me happier on a daily basis than a full refrigerator and a closet full of toilet paper. (Of course, if something happens to my husband like he gets an award or a promotion, I am happier, but that doesn’t happen on a regular or consistent basis). There is something about having fruits, vegetables, cheese, beans, and plenty of other things to eat, and the basics like toilet paper that make me feel secure, comfortable, stable and protected. Having these things make me feel as if no matter what else is happening in the world (and these days there is enough bad news to cause even optimists to spiral into depression), I will be okay.
I am a simple woman with simple pleasures, and that is why all the vacations, new cars, beauty procedures, etc. that are on parade on social media don’t bother me. I don’t want for anything. (I’m not entirely above envy, though. There are times when people publish their writing in magazines that I want to publish in, and I feel a twinge of envy).
I feel as if my personality, my desire for very little, has helped me master the spiritual principle of happiness. If we don’t want much, it is hard to be eaten by greed, desire, envy, consumption, and the material world. I don’t think I am above or better than anyone for being like this; I think it comes from hardship and trauma. If a person has suffered a great deal of trauma in their life, the little things, which don’t seem like much to others, can take on more meaning. For me, having an abundance of basic needs (food, toilet paper, comfortable clothes, a house, etc.) is all I need to feel taken care of, and that is not true for so many people.
I can understand running up your credit card because you can’t make ends meet every month and you need to eat, but I can’t understand going into debt for acrylic nails, a new pair of jeans, a trip to the Bahamas, dinner at a five-star restaurant, or a cosmetic medical procedure. I know we live in a culture where people think what they have, and what they can buy defines who they are, but I am not that way, and it is a part of me that I am thrilled over.
People might find it unusual or surprising that someone with schizophrenia could like a part of themselves, or feel as if they have mastered a spiritual practice that helps them maintain peace of mind and happiness that eludes so many others, but it’s true. It feels amazing to know that schizophrenia is not all of me.
I’m the kind of woman that would take a chocolate mint cookie (okay, maybe six) over a diamond ring, and I think that quality defines me more than a diagnosis of mental illness.