It is my unsolicited opinion that there is a direct link between control and happiness.
But it’s more complicated than that. Because control is a loaded word that requires further analysis.
So does happiness.
I’m going to make this a 2-part series because otherwise, confusion will abound… 😂
Let’s start with control.
What exactly is control, and who is in control of what?
You can be in control of yourself – your emotions, your physical well-being, your reaction to others. That sort of thing.
But you can also be the one who controls physical things: schedules, activities, family members (to a degree), household and maintenance, as well as a variety of work-related situations.
My biggest factors of control are related to family: housework, kids, food, activities. If someone doesn’t design, communicate, and essentially control the backbone of this family’s commitments and obligations, things would perish.
Things perishing would probably affect me more adversely than it might the others. The difference is this:
They react to how it affects them individually.
I react to how it affects the family unit where I am only a small part of that unit. In other words, my individuality is not, or does not feel, separate from the family unit. Theirs does.
Does this make sense?
Example: although everyone has access to apps and schedules on walls, two out of four of us left the house without three crucial items today. Yes they left on time due to the schedules, but leaving stuff behind now plays into the whole respecting the schedule thing.
I prepared (for them) for the ‘what-ifs’ (she’s in playoffs: if they win they stay to play again and need a lunch). I left their stuff in their path on the way out the door.
It was me who noticed they forgot to bring it.
Although he came back to get it, the way the conversation went left me to interpret that the expectation was that I could have (should have?) driven it out to them.
The fact that I wasn’t dressed properly and in the middle of cooking soup (for lunch for the other kid who is double booked later) didn’t appear to enter their consciousness.
The remaining kid home with me was also not particularly helpful – instead of locating his sister’s puffer at his dad’s request (it’s her responsibility to pack it, but she’s 10), he asked me to find it. (He was watching fortnite, I was cooking soup, cleaning the kitchen, and was now expected to look for the puffer…) 😶
So now, the question of happiness comes into play. Who is, or isn’t happy?
It’s clear that the ones who left were not happy about their forgotten items. Him because he had to battle Saturday morning traffic twice when he had to return home to pick up the forgotten stuff.
Her because it’s stressful to be without the puffer in case she needs it.
I wasn’t happy either at this point: they asked me to make them a lunch. Given I’m the school lunch maker every day during the week, I wasn’t a particularly thrilled with that request. For them to then leave it behind just ignited me more: now my self-worth is affected. Would they have been so laissez-faire about the lunch if they had to make it themselves?
The boy was unhappy too because he was asked to look for something which interrupted his incorrectly assumed ‘free time’ to watch fortnite videos. Never mind that he should have helped me clean the kitchen, too…
(Some days I pick my battles…) 🙄
So my relatively happy morning with everything going as planned took a turn south when we ended up scrambling around over forgotten stuff.
When things fall apart like this, the family unit becomes discombobulated.
So with that preamble in mind, I draw the conclusion that if things work out due to my scheduling tactics, I should be a happy(er) person.
Or am I?
When things don’t go as planned, be it over controllable (scheduling and communicating correct times and locations) or uncontrollable (traffic, illness) circumstances, does this directly impact happiness?
There’s another angle in this scenario: has my controlling the minutiae of family life caused them to become more dependent and therefore less likely to be able to keep track of all of their stuff? Even though trying to teach them to respect schedules and lists was intended to do the opposite?
Say if things work out about 80% of the time, due to my, ahem, controlling nature, does this mean that I am happy 80% of the time? Or just happier?
Talk to me about control. How do you manage the intricacies of controlling multiple individuals while maintaining a sense of sanity?
I will address the happiness question in more detail in part 2.