Happiness and the $300 couch

How people think themselves into unhappiness and how to think yourself out of it

I heard a couple talking as I walked around the thrift shop the other day:
“Well that’s an ugly couch. I wouldn’t want that in my home. Holy smokes! They want $300 for that thing? Who’s going to pay $300 for that!  It was donated!  Who are they to put a $300 price tag on something that was donated to them!  They shouldn’t be asking that much money!”

Reasonably clean white couch.  Picture sold separately.

Reasonably clean white couch. Picture sold separately.

For donated couch, it’s pretty clean. I couldn’t have that couch in my own home. It’s white. Our dogs are allowed on the couch and it would be mud colored in no time.

But it’s painful to sit in resentment. It’s draining to know how everyone in the world should be running their business, setting their prices, managing their inventory, and to be unhappy because they didn’t ask me how they should do it. I could see discontent in the speaker’s face. I wondered what she looked like when she was happy. Shift. Get curious.

Try this:

“I wonder who’s going to pay $325 for a used white couch at the thrift shop? What kind of home would that go into?”

“I wonder how long it’ll be here? I wonder if they’ll have to put it on sale? I wonder what it sold for when it was new?” (I haven’t spent more than $50 on a couch in 20 years.)

And there’s the path to working out of unhappy certainty and resentment, into at least a disinterested curiosity. It helps when I can remember that the thrift shop’s business is to raise money for the schools, not to provide low-cost furniture for people who can’t figure out how to use Craigslist and get free couches.

The couch went out on the sales floor on January 19th. I’ll try to remember to look for it next time I visit.

Asking $325; will adjust price if it doesn't sell.

Asking $325; will adjust price if it doesn’t sell.


The price tag is barely visible on the far arm, attached to the arm protector, not the upholstery itself.

What now, part 2

What do I know today? Thoughts on the Women’s March

It was much bigger than I expected. Perhaps it was much bigger than anyone expected. Oceans of pink hats around the world, in cities everywhere. Why were Australian women marching to protest Trump? We are upset.

There is a lot of discontent, fear, anger, emotional energy everywhere. We are not happy.

The Trump inauguration did not appear to be a particularly happy event, although I leave that interpretation to other people. If people who support Trump are truly happy about the next four years, it will be interesting to see how their happiness translates into action.

The question for me, and for all of us in the pink hats, is, “how can I be effective now? What do I do next, what do I do now, how do I take this energy and do something in my real life, in the real world, to engage that energy to harness that energy and put it to work?”

I put up a post in Facebook about knitting hats for people. I was surprised about how many women took me up on it. I can be useful. People don’t have someone to knit a hat for them. I can do that.

First pussyhat in progress.

First pussyhat in progress.

On a larger level, I know that I know more about learning, and taking action over time, and making sustained change at a personal level, then many people do. I’ve been doing this stuff for a long time.

I dipped my toe in political action = campaign support this past the election, and my candidates lost their elections. That’s not my arena. I’ll continue to pull signs the day after the elections.  That’s where I can be useful. My friend suggest I take training for Emily’s List. I may, but traditional political action is not my thing. I’m not good at it, I don’t enjoy it, and there are other people who do it better than I do.

I believe we all need to stick to our long suits. I know how to learn, & I know how to stay in the game, and continue in the face of crushing lack of results. I know how minuscule incremental change can appear on a day to day level and how enormously powerful small changes can be when you turn around and look back and see how far you’ve come.

I need to be encouraging women to make these kinds of changes in their own life, and to learn how to find a way to integrate and implement incremental change day after day after day for the next 1460 days.

There’s a nasty, mean joke going around about the Women’s March: Trump got more fat women out walking then Michelle ever did. It’s painful, and its true, and what are we going to do about it? Why will we walk for anger more than health? How can I harness that energy and stay in action day after day after day?

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