This Tuesday Gordon and I had an interview with a senior media relationship coordinator of Western Carolina University. Gordon graduated from there with a BA in History and a minor in Political Science. I didn’t graduate – my scholarship was cut and I couldn’t afford to go – but I did attend for a bit.
It was an interesting trip down the memory lane. A lot of memories were good, like sitting in a nice grassy spot eating campus Taco Bell for lunch. Some were painful – no, we don’t have any pictures of our time together, because processing film and cameras were expensive and they weren’t in the budget. We’ve talked about what we had hoped to achieve and what we have. It was a fun Zoom interview.
For a couple of days now, I had this vague feeling following me around like a cartoon cloud and I finally identified it. It’s the realization that one, we’re getting older and two, shouldn’t we have achieved more by now? A kind of amorphous suspicion that somehow we’re failing to hit some invisible mark.
When you think about it logically, this seems a bit absurd. There is a laundry list of bragging points on the About page, and yet somehow, there is still this weird insecurity about not having done more. I don’t even know what that more is.
In a lot of pagan religions, people would assign gods to every aspect of their life, and these gods sometimes had very specific roles. Goddess of childbirth. God of a stream behind the house. God who helps thieves and another god who helps to guard against them.
If I were a pagan, I would call the god responsible for those vague, uneasy feelings the God of Falling Short. His sole job would be to manufacture internal dissatisfaction and anxiety. He would be responsible for making you guilty about not monetizing your hobbies, for making you miserable because you decided not to commit to a higher paying job that required a lot more hours, and for keeping you awake at night so you can beat yourself up about missing a golden business opportunity. It would be married to the Goddess of Parental Guilt, so they could unite and double down on making you feel guilty about your failures as a parent.
The God of Falling Short would be a surprisingly dangerous god. Our survival mechanisms are very powerful. As soon as we achieve something, they push us to move the goal posts and try harder and do more. I’d imagine it’s hardwired into us to keep us from dying. If a prehistorical clan found a good spot with a river teeming with fish and berry patches nearby, soon they would range out, looking for an even better spot, because you never know when a drought might dry up the river and kill the berries and you might end up starving.
And then, of course, once a god like that comes into being, there would need to be a counter-god, the God of Small Happiness. I found that the best way to combat the dissatisfaction with your life and imposter syndrome is to take pleasure in the small moments. Yes, we might not getting as much of whatever it is we want but right now, right this second, this tea is delicious and it feels so nice to drink it. Yes, I could be a better housekeeper and make sure my house looks prettier, but this book I’m reading is a lot of fun and I’m happy reading it.
The God of Falling Short feeds on insecurity. The God of Small Happiness makes you feel cozy and safe.
May the God of Small Happiness bless you this week.
Thank you. And you as well.
Kim H says
If my experience is any indication, The God of Falling Short is also nocturnal and his favorite time to remind us about our shortcomings is 3 a.m.
Moderator R says
That he is and I think our ancestors have been battling him too because 3 am is also traditionally the time when we had to be most vigilant against dark influences.
That is an excellent way to describe it Kim.
I agree. And his friends wishI, coulda, woulda, shoulda often come along for fun.
Mary E. Healey says
I love your analogy of the two opposing gods. It is a very creative way of looking at a stage of psycho-social development. (See Erikson’s Stages of Development). I cannot tell you enough how much I enjoy your books and short stories. They speak to a part of my soul that still appreciates the fanciful and seeing the world through someone else’s lens. I think you have met the Erikson model for your stage, but the only opinion that matters of course is yours. Be well.
Moderator R says
My act of self care for today is not even checking how many of those I have missed.
If we love one thing in this house, it is ourselves- thank you Mary for sharing, but if anyone is struggling with the God of Falling Short atm, please turn around from that list and don’t help him out!
Mary E. Healey says
Bill W says
Contentment with who we are followed by joy with Whose we are.
I made myself happy last week by buying an inflatable dinosaur costume and surprising friends with it. It makes both them and me laugh.
I love this so much!
Michele G says
What a great memory you made! Fantastic!
Vanna Richardson says
Thank you for this post. It is a good reminder that we are enough in this present moment.
I know the God of Falling Short, and I like your proposal for The God of Small Happiness. I do have a favourite Godess though, Benzaiten, the Goddess of all that flows: water, music, arts, love, wisdom, wealth and fortune.
I had not heard of that Goddess but I like that idea a lot. Speaks to something else in my life too, that brings me joy through flow, so thank you for a lovely little bit of uplifting knowledge.
This is so sweet and very timely, thank you!
May the god of small happiness be kind to you as well.
ha! I am very familiar with the first one. trying my hardest to invite the second one into my life. I would love to see a scene where Kate has to describe these smaller gods to someone ????
I recently had a long conversation with a sibling that I’m just shooting for contentment now. I don’t need big happy achievements and want to avoid big disaster moments. I’d like to be content. Thank you for writing a post that makes us realize we are normal. All people go through these feelings.
For a moment I thought I was on another blog: https://leemoyer.wordpress.com/
Your gods would fit right in. I do get that nagging feeling though it does not come from looking back. I have the benefit of knowing without a doubt what I had planned in my college days would not have been the right life for me. It doesn’t spare me from the “you could have done more” feeling though. I’m not rich or famous and have done nothing award winning in any way beyond endurance. (5 year tenure pin etc… But my life is good. I have tried my best. That will have to be enough. I have had a good bit of small happiness too and hope you have the best.
Ms. Kim says
I actually ascribe the “I could have done more” feeling to school teachers and their “failure to meet potential” assessments. When you are going through it you can’t image what they are seeing and what you could be doing. But after a few decades you begin to realize things you are good at and see missed opportunities, and “if I knew then what I know” moments. So now at 70 I am occasionally dissatisfied with where I am and what I didn’t accomplish.
.303 bookworm says
Oh gawd – this! “Would do very well if only she applied herself more.” Unfortunately I’d rather have been reading. But I’ve done pretty well for myself and now that I’ve hit fifty I’ve stopped trying to kill myself at work to advance my career when actually I don’t want the higher roles (they’re all politicking and no “doing” – which is what I enjoy most). Bonus: more time for reading!
My friends and I are in our fifties and the God of Falling Short seems to become more active as you get older but then so does the God of Small Happiness, if you let him.
Am I at the top of my field? Nope. Do I want to be? Also, no. I treasure the flexibility I have to help my legally blind mom as she ages.
I think the God of Small Happiness should be married to the Goddess of Making Good Choices for You and Your Family.
Perhaps those last 2 are siblings, as they are often related to each other. ????
While you probably have more experience than I, I just thought I would share a couple of things that my grandma (who has lost almost all of her vision) enjoys. Audible and her talking watch. As long as the book is downloaded and started for her, she knows where on the screen to push the button to start and stop the playing. It just sits in 1 spot always plugged in, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt it by doing that. And the talking watch (from Amazon) tells her the date and time and she really loves it. ????
Good for you for helping with your mother. As someone who often has to leave work to go help, I understand the appeal of flexibility (and also the guilt for doing so). It’s also why I haven’t changed my job. ????
Same here. I have seen a number of interesting possibilities come along but I like my boss and my work and a new challenge isn’t enough to give up the flexibility.
Thank you for your ideas especially the talking watch. I appreciate your thoughtfulness. A couple for you. The Library of Congress offers free books for the visually impaired. Mom has used it for years in addition to books on CD. https://www.loc.gov/nls/
I would also recommend Alexa and some wifi plugs. Mom can still see enough to see bright against dark and she uses Alexa to turn all the lights on in a room at once so she can navigate.
May the God of Small Happiness bless your day!
The Library of Congress is a great resource and thank you for sharing it! Unfortunately her wifi isn’t as strong as it needs to be and Alexa often gets confused ???? (she mostly uses it to make calls or listen to music occasionally). ????
I like the sibling idea, too!
Tina Martinez says
Oh, you absolutely should listen to Little Gods by Tim Pratt. my favorite short story of all time, and it deals with grief as seen through the lens of small gods. Heartbreakingly beautiful and I will NEVER stop recommending it.
that was amazing. Loved all the little gods.
Despite our similarities, we are in that way so very different. I tend to be often amazed that things worked out so well. I have more than once been asked how I got this job, whatever job it was, and could only smile and chalk it up to good fortune. I got into WCU without taking the SATs. I met the smartest person I’ve ever known there and somehow convinced her to marry me. With like six hours to graduate, I freaked out and joined the army. You came with. In the army I had an office I could walk to from our house. With little to no training I was sometimes in charge of re-enlistment for the entire brigade. Another job I just fell into. Now we do this. We get to work together and provide for our kids. Perhaps there is a god of Orphans and middle-aged Irish thugs.
Proud Bookworm says
Having a spouse that balances you makes for a great marriage! The BDH appreciates you both and we are glad that your relationship works so well!!
Sara B. says
There is an old Andy Capp cartoon that describes one as an “optimistic pessimist” and the other as a “pessimistic optimist”, to the utter confusion of their rent collector.
Sometimes those differences make for a wonderful synergy.
Patricia Schlorke says
Awww! There’s nothing on this Earth better than someone knowing what you did and do for them regardless of anything else.
I love and appreciate your joy in being married to your best friend. I’m blessed to have that as well (39 years & counting).
Thank you both for all you do for us.
You and ModR are true Avatars for the God of Big Blessings for the BDH.
Why do most people always look at the glass half empty? Guess people want to strive for more and unfortunately set them up for disappointments. If only we all would look at the glass as half full then life would be about contentment and happiness. Sign…
To counteract the ‚glass half empty‘ pessimism, I‘ll offer some chemistry humor…..
„The glass is always full, half liquid, half air.“
And some humor that probably came from a college student…
„Everyone is missing the point, glasses are refillable.“
If you are happy with what you do for a living, and are making enough to live on, you‘re where you need to be right now. If either of those things changes (in your view, not in anyone else‘s view), then you can reassess.
Annamarie Schmidt says
As someone who was made to feel “less that” their whole childhood, because they chose not to “love” me but show me as an example of their greatness, I learned at an early age that I will never be good enough, for anyone but myself. So I chose then to do what makes me happy–my house is a mess, my yard needs mowed, my waistband is tight, but my bills are paid and my library is full, and so is my frig. I do regret nut finishing college—BUT if I did I bet I would be in a job I don’t like and not the happy owner of my own bookstore.
For some folks the only accomplishments they count are their own. Terry Pratchett wrote of a bucket of crabs that would pull others down and not let them out of the bucket. Good for you for realizing you can make your life the way you want it and achieving it!
Sonna Olson says
Love this post. I am in my early 50’s and identify with those feelings and have reached similar conclusions. To ever more small happy moments! And your books give me many of those. This really is no small thing.
I would like to submit a parallel god to the God of Small Happiness: the God of Gratitude. We got two more inches of snow last night, which we need, but also just enough to make the roads very slick; I am happy to be warm and safe inside my house and grateful not to be out driving.
This hit the spot. I am flying back home from Bermuda where I spoke at 2 conferences and have achieved a modicum of professional success. Yet, this feeling of dissatisfaction follows me where I exhort myself to do more #hustle #sidegig. We are in this culture where wanting and pushing for more at the cost of health and happiness is normalized. I need to try harder to get off that treadmill.
I will be praying to the God of Small Happiness hard.
I need to try harder to get on the actual treadmill, haha.
Kelly Jacobs says
I copied for sharing:
The God of Falling Short feeds on insecurity.
The God of Small Happiness makes you feel cozy and safe.
May the God of Small Happiness bless you this week.
I feel this post very deeply. Thank you for sharing and also for being so very real and open with us.
May all the happiness that you spread out into the world come back to you and fill you with contentment, peace, and joy.
So very pertinent to our lives today, and it destroys quality of life. Thanks for the imagery to combat it! Every wish for blissful cups of tea in your life 🙂
Beware! The God of Falling Short inhabits social media and all those annual newsletters from organizations and family/friends talking about what great adventures they have been on. Avoid at all costs. We each have to find our God of Small Happiness but not focusing on FOMO helps.
Moderator R says
I mostly focus on JOMO- the joy of missing out! Isn’t it great that I’m cosy and calm in my chosen environment and not out on uncomfortable and tiresome “experiences” 😀 ?
I usually do an extra happy butt wiggle and settle better in my blankets whenever I think of it.
Patricia Schlorke says
Amen, Mod R!
+1! I have JOMO as well, I say this all the time.
Read this post, looked up, and a hummingbird was bouncing around the hibiscus plant on our patio. ????
God of Small Happiness wins!
You nailed it!!
I know the God of Falling Short all too well and worshipped at the altar for many years. Part of personal growth was to let go and appreciate what I have and who I am. I’m now a devotee of the God of Small Happiness and the difference it has made is amazing. 🙂
Reminds me of a Tom Lehrer comment, “It is a sobering thought that when Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years.”
On the small happinesses side, the plum tree outside my office is in full bloom. I chose and planted that tree 20 years ago.The plums are delicious. That is one of my personal sonatas.
Big Mike says
Oh dear. May a septuagenarian weigh in?
The God of Falling Short is just the different, evil, face presented by the God of Getting Older. If you’ve done your best throughout your life (and even if you haven’t always) then just ignore him and the regrets with which he wants to guilt trip you. Always remember that getting older bests all known alternatives.
Courtney Mincy says
The God of Falling Short used to bother me with increasing frequency as I got older. Then I killed him. Now any lack of achievement doesn’t bother me anymore.
<3 this. I've been feeling much of the same thoughts
Maria F says
Really appreciate this and you describe the unsettled feeling to a tee. Will keep god of small happiness in mind going forward!
Sam E says
I think the God of Falling Short is the brother of the God of Not Living Up to Family History. When you have parents, aunts and uncles, grandparent and great grandparents/aunts and uncles that have done amazing things, brave things, trail blazing things, made an indelible mark on the world for all to see, even if you have lived a good life and are content you still feel like you didn’t live up to your legacy. My forebears held patents for scientific discoveries and practical daily items, they published scholarly journals, and books of poetry, they were accomplished painters and sculptors who’s work hangs in museums and the White House, They participate in expeditions and were the first women at the time to hold certain jobs, they were successful politicians and public servants and me I’ve done none of that. I have a nice white collar job that pays me well and I live with my cats and dogs and putter around in the yard. I’m very happy with my life but that dang God of Not Living Up to Family History drops in at random times to make me feel like I’ve let my entire family back to creation down because I “didn’t do great things”. At 53 still haven’t figured out how to kick him out.
Mary Cruickshank-Peed says
Oh my gods. That God of parental guilt is a killer. My daughter is 40. The other night she was going on and on about her youngest, who DOES HER HOMEWORK BUT DOESNT TURN IT IN. My daughter did that, exactly. I said “Yeah? I still have nightmares about you not doing your homework. But you know what not to do.” She said “What?” I said “Everything I ever tried, because none of it worked for you.” She laughed. She said “Your mother’s curse is working just fine, she’s just like I was.” The guilt is that I should have had her tested for ADD. She’s 40 and back then it wasn’t even noticed that girls HAD ADD because they (we) present so differently. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 60. Now we look at the 4 of us, me, her, the grandgirls and we’ve all be diagnosed in the past 6 months. How much easier would our lives have been if we’d known then what we know now. … guilt guilt guilt…
My youngest has ADHD and yes, I should’ve pushed for a diagnosis in high school, but that was the moment where we, as parents, were bombarded with messages about Aderall being over prescribed, and kids selling it, and how it led to drug dependency and inability to cope with life without it, and that if the child was on Aderall early on, they would never develop skills necessary to help them succeed. She graduated anyway, she is on Aderall now. She was brilliant then and is brilliant now. Her life is just a bit easier now with medication. She is working on the draft of her second novel, and Gordon and I are so proud of her.
Don’t beat yourself up. You did the best you could with the information you had at the time.
Sandhya Rao says
May I ask whether her first novel had been published yet, and what’s it called? I would love to try it, if it has been…
It’s finished but it’s been put aside. She’s finding her specific voice and the type of story she wants to tell. The second novel is closer to that vision.
Sandhya Rao says
???????? Will wait patiently for whenever it’s/they’re ready????
We are currently trying to get our insurance to cover having my daughter tested. She will be a senior next year. She was diagnosed with anxiety during Covid, but one of her teachers asked me if we’ve looked at ADHD. She is doing well in class but standardized testing is kicking her butt.
That God of parental standards is killing me. Because her older brother has depression/ODD and younger brother has ADHD.
Now that Im reading up on ADHD in girls she hits a lot of the points. Especially the hyper focus, excessive talking and strong emotions. How did I miss it? I felt like a failure for a bit there. But hopefully we get her tested soon to help with her Senior year and college if she chooses to go.
Moderator R says
From this hyperfocused, never shutting up, intensely feeling person to you: you’re doing the right thing, you are in her corner, you’re showing help is available and she is loved. That counts the world. Good luck!
Thank you for posting about having a teenager with ADHD. About college, I suggest from experience that a school close to home is an excellent option. Also we have found relief from an energy drink called Tea Riot/Riot, out of Venice Beach, CA (available at Whole Foods) for situations such as test taking that require sustained focus.
I tried for years to get my daughter tested but no one would do it because she wasn’t struggling in school. She’s in college now and she still can’t get anyone to do testing. She talked to one doctor but they just gave her Wellbutrin. It’s very frustrating. Very strong emotions, easily distracted, talks constantly, procrastinator.
Katie R says
Perfect timing for me. I often think I can’t seem to do anything right these days. Really beating myself up lately and losing sleep over “worldly things” as they say.
Thanks for this post. It was just what I needed to read today.
Melisa M. says
I hope you have a better day and find those small happy things to focus on!
The internet and social media are the Gods of Falling Short. Ignore them. They lie.
Sandhya Rao says
Thank you. I had several terrible busy days and today I came home and I am not able to do anything. I know I should be cooking and cleaning and working and thousands of other things, but I just can’t. So thank you, because I really needed to hear it.
So the new plan for the evening is a cup of tea and a book and I am really excited about it. Hopefully, the Small Happiness will win 🙂
Melisa M. says
Well I hope this feeds the God of Small Happiness for you today:
Your writing makes the world a better place.
And that’s not an exaggeration because isn’t it amazing when you can make one person happy? Well, I can speak for all of the BDH when I say your books bring us countless hours of joy and they can continue to do that whenever we need it. We only have to pick up one of your books and feed our souls. I recently saw an interview with Sandra Cisneros where she said books are medicine. When something ails someone they can look for the right “prescription” in a bookshelf. I feel that way about your work. Thank you to both of you.
i was told more than once that if i lowered my expectations i would be much happier.
age has taught me that having a gratitute list and saying thanks every morning for what i do have works much better for making me happier
Judy Schultheis says
You have just pretty much described my life, too.
Yet, every time I consider it, there are only three things I would change if I could, and every single one of them is a very small thing – three mostly inconsequential failures of nerve.
There hasn’t been, and won’t be, a fourth. I do prefer being kind, and unkindness was the problem with the three things I remember.
Apropos of nothing. Reading has become such a different experience for me. The book I’m reading now mentions Joshua Trees. I didn’t remember what they look like, Google it. House Andrews mentions a weapon, or historical figure, or use a word I don’t know … pause and look it up.
I love books that take me down these rabbit holes, but it also enriches whatever story I’m currently reading because when a character says, “There will be Joshua Trees when we get there,” I can visualize the scene. The whole scene, because the picture of a Joshua Tree that Google shows me also shows the landscape it lives in.
To bring it back on topic – This expanded reading experience is a small happiness for me and a gift from you. So, thank you.
My god of small happiness manifested on etsy while I was waiting for medical results. Did I really need all those small colorful post earrings? Looking at them twinkling from the jewelry box, you bet! I allowed myself to be suckered by the false logic “spend more, save more “. No regrets.
I turned 62 this year. The God of Falling Short had basically taken up residence in my room. It follows me around. So many things.
I will work on encouraging the God of Small Happiness to nudge the GFS out. 🙂
Nancy OBrien says
I’ve been dealing with the God of Falling Short for a number of years. I finally came to the conclusion that it’s simply one more stage of life, when you realize that time is running out and there are simply not enough years left to accomplish everything you want to do. And also that there are some things about yourself that you’ll never be able to change. I wholeheartedly agree that the solution is to take pleasure in the small moments.
I really love how you explained that. I have experienced that feeling a lot. Mostly along the lines of I did not graduate college and start my career until I was 35, etc.
I personally think if y’all stopped right now (please please don’t do that! lol) you would have had an exceptionally successful life. Not in any particular order: You are published world wide. You are a good Mama. You love/are loved by your spouse. Also, there are sooooo many people who think you are AWESOME(I unabashedly fan girl at 45 lol). That seems to me to be pretty amazing. When that ugly voice speaks, we will be happy to help you tell it to hush ❤
Paulette M Smith says
Thank you for this post. I wonder if it’s the weather? I’ve been feeling that nagging sense of “something” but couldn’t pin it down. You nailed it in one and now that it’s recognizable, I’m feeding the God of Small Happiness, starving the God of Falling Short. My belief is the measuring stick of personal success is made of an individual recipe for each of us, by each of us. We’re allowed to try new recipes. Mine’s made of lemon poppy short bread and can be dipped in milk or my favorite tea. Lemonade made daily for the God of small happiness here. Thank you for the oven timer reminder to take out another batch.
I like this. My god of small happiness is that my spouse of very many years picked up IKEA marinated salmon salad for lunch, and he kept saying “I had Swedish Fish for lunch today.” Which is totally dorky for a dude in his mid-fifties to say, but he is just tickled at his cleverness. And I am happy he is so dorky.
I’ve heared in a podcast (Huberman Lab maybe?) that finding happiness in small things brings you longer lasting happiness than the big things. So finding joy in how nature changes everyday or the smell of the tea is the best thing I can do for myself.
I’ve also been dealing with the God of falling short in a vague sense of “I haven’t been able to use my full potential” thing. I guess imo it’s worth to deal with the GoFS just to know where he gets me. If I know that I can do something about it, whatever that means.
The God of Small Happiness makes me think of the God of Every Humble Beauty in the World from the brilliant parable of Arepo a bunch of Tumblr users wrote together a few years ago. Thank you for the reminder!
Please share the link with us?
Here it is! https://writing-prompt-s.tumblr.com/post/172811507450/threefeline-corancoranthemagicalman
This is really wonderful
Megan W says
OK, that was beautiful. (Wiping away the tears…)
Patricia Schlorke says
When I read the post, it brought me back to the days of people looking at me and thinking that I wouldn’t be good enough for whatever they thought I should do. Well…that’s no longer the case.
I don’t talk about my background too much unless someone asks. I’ve had coworkers become very uncomfortable with me (they are nurses). I told them that just because I went through does not make me any better than them. It was interesting to see their faces after I said that.
So long as the happiness of where you’re at right now outweighs the should haves, it’s ok to wonder. ????
Jill Werle says
What a lovely reminder for all of us. Thank you!
Melanie Halpert says
Annnnd .. this is one reason I like reading your blog.
Love this idea! The God of Small Happiness is what makes each day worth living.
So true about falling short! When I was younger, I left teaching for a higher paying job with excellent benefits. I agonized about it and listened to my friends shame me about giving up my profession. Well, 40 years later I was able to retire at 55, which includes health benefits and Colas. It took time but I got over selling my soul for money. Poor is hard(been there/did that).
I understand what you are talking about. It’s the everyday insatisfaction that are hard, not the good days. You know what I did about 15 years ago ? IT was during my midlife crise, it was hard. I kept thinking about the 5 Ws: Who, why, when, where and what. It was exhausting and suddenly, after thinking about all of this, I decided that I was happy. Happiness is often a state of mind so if you decide that you’re happy then everything becomes so much better, you appreciate all the little thing in life.
Be happy peoples!
Kathy Burmeister says
And you also.
Thank you, and may the God of Small Happiness bless you and your family every day!
Vicki LENOIR says
Thank you so much for this post. I am going through my third career change as I first decided to leave that high paying nice titled job for something that might make me happy only to realise that even if I do something I enjoy, it’s not worth it when the people around you are toxic. But sometimes you are alone in your head and go “why did I leave that job? At least there was money… now what do I have?” and it’s hard to remember that even if your kids or parents can’t brag about your job title, the fact that you’re trying to be healthier mentally should matter.
Basically most of us just get by, do our best as we have time and take our happiness wherever we find it. You’ve both done much better than that, frankly.
I watched two good friends go thru PhD and tenure hell and decided that was definitely not something I wanted for myself after all. They both had really rewarding careers but no time for much of anything else. So you really do have to pick what is important to you. I had a job that paid my bills and allowed me to travel, take care of aging parents, and read books pretty much any damned time I felt like it (which was most of the time hehe).
I accepted that about age 35 and never looked back.
So let that insecure crap go! That’s the end of the unrequested advice lol.
Your comments are so true and so helpful!
I have told my students for years that the key to happiness is to be unreasonably happy and excited about small stuff that comes your way.
One day I came to class, opened my soda and opened the textbook and said, “Give me a math book and a Diet Coke and I’m a happy woman.” A student in the front said, “There is so many things wrong with that statement.” 🙂
FYI: Yes, I know it should be “There are…” but it was a direct quote.
yep, that’s the key…. are you happy? if yes, then it’s all good. if not, then what’s wrong? fix or change it…. small happinesses.
The God of Falling Short is just evil. I reached success with my consulting business but got to my 50s feeling dissatisfied. Luckily, I listened to the God of Small Happiness and went back to school to get my degree in photography. Something I’ve loved all my life but put it aside because it was considered “impractical” as a career.
After I graduated, I quit my business and officially became a photographer. I only had 6 months before another evil God struck – Dad diagnosed with cancer and gone in a year, then Covid, then Mom diagnosed with cancer and gone in 3 months. I had 4 years of not being able to use my photography skills and wanted to just give it up. But God of Small Happiness wins in the end. I’ve started to heal from the trauma of the last years and, amazingly, I’ve got most of April and May booked with many photo sessions. I get to celebrate special events with strangers – how cool is that?
My take? Don’t let doubts and bad things take away from your life’s accomplishments. Always take a moment to be grateful for all the good things and, most importantly, never give up.
Moderator R says
That’s a great take! I hope you get many years of pursuing your passion!
Thank you ????
It gets better with time. I lost my Father, Mother, and Brother within 15 months. My company had a program with talking to a psychologist where I could vent. With the help of my sessions and my son, life improved. I have a quality life with volunteering and traveling. I’m happy that you have photography
Thank you. I wish you all he best with your volunteering and traveling. May each day bring you joy and peace.
as an offering on the altar of The God of Small Happiness I present to you three songs by Jaromír Nohavica. One of the best song smiths of this age. His verses are crisp his melodies are beautiful and his texts are deep. And since he doesn’t sing in English I doubt many of you heard of him. If you like the songs you can poke google for text and translation.
The first is the song Muzeum for anybody who is feeling like a fossil.
The second is Mám jizvu na rtu (I have scar on my lip) for anybody who feels battered by live.
The third is Kometa just because. It is moving. Happy and sad. And it gives perspective for
I saw comet, she flew in the sky.
I wanted to sing for her, but she was gone…
…When she will fly by next, oh you vain pride
We will not be here, but someone else will sing for her.
Lenore A. Villa says
Thank you so much for putting things in their proper perspective. And many thanks for the well wishes.
Hope you never let the insecurities of the God of Falling Short make you forget what you have accomplished.
Given that you have raised what seems like two caring and ethical daughters and have given countless hours of pleasure to your readers, I can’t see any falling short. While money does make life less difficult, being happy with your life is so much more important than having piles of money. Your books are such a gift to me. Still my go-to books for coping with stress or when I want to visit Kate and Curren, or the Baylor’s, or Gertrude Hunt. The phrase from “The Help” comes to mind – “You are important!” You have touched so many lives.
Mary Ellen says
I really needed this.
This post is just another reason I love your blog!
Thank you and the same for you!????
My partner calls me GHF because I’m a glass half full kinda gal – it’s the sweetest compliment. ????
Hey, I know that God, the God of Falling Short, she’s Chinese and she looks awfully like my mom (or dad). ????????♀️ I grew up with that god, it’s the Chinese mantra, pridefulness is the worst thing to instill in your child. Thus, I was never good enough.
But as we all grew older, we’ve all settled in. I’m never going to further my career, I’ve already retired, LOL. But I have enough money to do mostly what I want when I want, and my wishes are mainly small and affordable. My parents are also proud that I have the freedom to do whatever whenever even though I will never become a more “successful” person. So the God of Small Kindness smiles at us often, and I know that I’m good enough.
The God of Parental Guilt might look like the other parent in some Chinese families.
In my experience as an Asian American kid, is really common for Asian parents to humble brag about their kids to other parents, in competition, but not tell the kid until they’re well into their 20’s or 30’s (when they’re no longer a kid!) that they’re proud of them. I wonder if the Falling Short feeling persists through adulthood and tries to invade the moments of happiness brought by our accomplishments.
My goodness, you both are NT Times Best Selling authors, which is the pinnacle of My Dreams. (and I consider myself fairly accomplished). And your books are wonderful reads. You have arrived. You don’t need to set the bar higher. I get the “imposter syndrome” but you are no imposter. Enjoy your tea and give yourself a break????????
All hail the god of small happiness. I appeased them by re-reading Hidden Legacy this week. Thank you House Andrews, for all you have done.
This post counts as a bragging right. You packed a lot of meaning and story into such a short passage. Thank you. ❤️
Chris C says
I know what you mean. I’ve hit 60 and think OH shit, what have I accomplished? That’s probably happened to almost all normalish people.
From our prospective, you and the hubster have done brilliantly! Just look at the ever-growing BDH! You may not be solving issues like world hunger but you provide quality entertainment for many. That has to count for something in this crazy world. And Thank You!
I’m reminded of the famous last line of a movie “We’ll always have Paris” but make it “We’ll always have the BDH”
I hope it made you chuckle.
Dave Sperry says
I am sure you are getting buried in replies from the BDH about how much pleasure you have brought into our lives, and how you should feel a great sense of accomplishment for that. I have a specific suggestion for you to consider: Complete a college degree. Think about it — it was a visit to the college where you were not able to finish your formal education that seems to have triggered these vague feelings. So pick a college, pick a program, do it online or in person, but get that degree to frame and hang on your wall. Concrete proof to yourself that you most definitely hit a mark.
Moderator R says
Ahahahahahahah. As someone who is aware of House Andrews’ calendar and engagements, this gave me a good laugh. Thanks 😀
Kylie in Australia says
or just wait until they invite you back again and give you an honorary degree 🙂
there’s a brand new series, smol gods.
God of Falling Short is a right bastard, pulling adherents away from useful & proper gods.
Pay no homage. Fluck your cigarette butt at that one, grind him under your heel, and proceed apace, arm in arm with Happiness and Content
Judy Schultheis says
I remember telling my stepfather, shortly after he married my mother, when I was visiting them and he was trying to arrange my life for me, that if I couldn’t be happy at the prospect of lunch, I wasn’t going to be happy over bigger stuff.
There should be a god for Being Enough.
Rachel Rogall says
I needed this today. It described what I was feeling exactly. I’m sorry you were feeling the same but thank you for your post, it helped.
lol! I just listened to this book about a month ago! I love Sir Terry!
Thank you, I’ve encountered the god of insecurities lately. Then I take a walk outside on the trails and realize I’m damn lucky!
So hurrah to the god of small happiness! Blessings received and may they be returned ????
This strikes a chord…. perfectly. There was a time I couldn’t get a job delivering pizzas and now I have everything I could ever want and still that stupid God of Falling Short harasses me constantly.
Thank the Gods that my wife is the High Priestess of Small Happiness ????
Oh, on another note: I gifted my oldest daughter with a paper back Magic Bites….and she’s hooked!!!
Thank you both again for the many nights of joy living in the world’s you created.
Theodore D. says
Thank you… This is most astute and wise…
I might quote you, later, as well! 🙂
Thank you. The school shooting in Nashville was just south of us and the Black Hawk helicopter crash in KY was from our base. A post from you, one that makes me smile and nod in agreement, is exactly what I needed to find today.
Thank you for being my proof that the God of Small Happiness thrives.
Debra Hoffmaster says
Seriously guys you have not fallen short. You bring joy to millions. What could be more important? Think of the nurse you helped to deal with the pandemic through your writing. Really you are a blessing to us. Do not discount your impact
Wow, this is just the message I needed today. Thank-you so much ❤️
What about the God of Scary Furry Crawly things. He is super unhappy that the BDH did not name and give sacrifices to his messenger this week.
Wendy Fraser says
I agree, gratitude and joy in the moments of pleasure we have with the people and things we love.Life is too short to spend worrying about what others think or possess. be happy knowing thousands of the BDH appreciate how you nuture your creativity, not your housework x
Wow. I can relate to this post about 110%. Please know that you are never falling short in my (our) eyes, and I’ll light a candle on my altar that the God of Small Happiness blesses you all for a long time.
I feel like we need a quote from this post on a mug in the online store. It was a good reminder for me today. ❤️
Barbara Swanson says
You are beautiful. You make me feel guilty for not having seriously pursued writing my 2nd book.
Then, the Goddess (I am an equal opportunity theist) of Small Happiness steps up and I start reading your book again.
I have found a way to beat back the God of falling short. When I wake up I put in the air pods and listen to Hidden Legacy by Ilona Andrews or Firebird Chronicles by T A White. I go to sleep in 30 minutes since I know the series backward and forward. It works every time except on a plane. I haven’t found anything to put me asleep on a plane (except traveling 30 hours from Russia)
At the beginning of the lockdown, I was really spinning out. The granddaughter of a neighbor down the street was out riding her bike. A cute kid on a pink bike, with streamers on the handles. That was a small happiness. My day got better.
One beautiful morning I saw a boy, probably 13 or 14, riding his bike and rather awkwardly carrying a fishing pole. That made me happy beyond all reason.
I’m a fan of the Goddess of Small Happiness! There is really only one decision I’d change if I could but it would probably change my last 30 years and I’m pretty content with my life as it is.
A good creative meditation:)
What a treat! We are privileged to have a peek into your mind! I’m currently in a reread of the Edge series with a friend. I’m constantly overwhelmed (almost) by the sheer amount of detail. I have to stop occasionally to allow my mind to process it all. With this little visit into your thoughts, I can better understand how it all came together. Thank you!
Thank you for a thoughtful exploration of daily struggles.
Retirement brought even harder struggles for me. What is my worth to society now? What lifestyle changes should I make? After 60 + hr/week work schedule I slept most of the time for over a year.
I finally realized I worked hard and I deserved to retire. And I am now happy doing all those crafty things I put off.
could definitely become a devotee of the God of Small Happiness.
thanks for the smile
I love this concept! It’s a refreshing take on how to divorce the self from our modern anxiety created by how we internalized the societal message that we must always do more, be more productive, and that idleness or contentment with your current situation are to be frowned upon.
I honestly think this post – or at least a slightly edited version of it – should really make its way in a newspaper.
I work in Trust and estate administration and there’s nothing like reading some people’s obituaries to make you feel like you have done nothing with your life. The God of Falling Short is often in my ear.
Lizz D. says
I hate imposter syndrome. It is insanely common in students going through graduate school (I’m currently finishing my MA in History, and will, hopefully soon, be applying for PhD programs). And as you said, it’s just absurd. Someone who is published, who has people insanely interested in a project they did in their undergrad, who is seeking teaching jobs, and having schools actively interested in them obviously has worth. But there it is. Anyone who experiences it needs to know they’re not alone. I love that you guys wrote about imposter syndrome, since it’s not something that is talked about a lot, but needs to be talked about more. I wish you luck with battling your demons/the god of falling short. You guys are amazing. <3
you’ve struck me to my heart. This year I turn 60…birthdays never disturbed me, but this one…
I could have been so many things, I was significantly above average all K-12, and because of a phenomenally capable and ambitious mother (picture a british-educated Mama Rose of the musical “Gypsy”), I had an unusual, wide-ranging (if lonely) childhood, way outside of the range of our actual, socio-economic situation.
My life has been vastly different than those early experiences would have indicated. Highs, lows, and everything in-between, but still just very different.
And now, on the precipice of 60, where do I go from here? I have less years in front now than behind…I might even have no years (RIP Lance Reddick).
I’m not unhappy, but I would prefer not to worship at the altar of the dread ‘Falling Short’, and instead offer service to ‘Fulfilled and Content’.
I’m thinking on the god of hopefully unnecessary preparations. If you don’t prepare Murphy will get you. But Murphy is another issue altogether. Everyone stay safe from the weather today!
Amateur Hermit says
The God of Falling Short smote me this week when my job reverted to what it was 30 years ago. It’s even smaller. Last year’s accomplishments and awards don’t mean anything because I’m back to where I was in my late 20s.
Thank you. May the God of Small Happiness bless you all.
I think we kind of need the God of Falling Short, though. After all, if we were instead under the God of You’re Good or the God of You’ve Made It! then what would you do with your days? There’s nothing else to achieve, nothing new to learn, no new road to travel because you’re good, you’ve made it.
But if you have a little doubt, you’ll think “maybe if I try this”, or “maybe it’ll help if I read this”, or my personal favorite: “let’s press the red button and see what happens”. I think the God of Falling Short is a sibling or a cousin of the Goddess of You Made a Mistake. That Goddess is a teacher. I think the God of Falling Short is supposed to be a motivator. The trick is to not let him become an excuse.
And that’s the end of my Deep Thoughts.
Thank you. This is a message I needed to see right now.
May the god of small happiness also smile on you all. I find interrupting anxiety with gratitude a good antidote to the god of falling shorts 3am assaults! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.
You can’t know how much I needed to hear this right now.
<3 Insightful and timely.
Marilyn H says
The God of Falling Short has hit me more now that I passed 50. It doesn’t want to let me think of all I’ve done, but what I haven’t. I didn’t finish that Masters Degree, I didn’t have that 2nd kid, I didn’t do this, I didn’t do that. It tries to keep me from thinking of the other accomplishments. I did get a Bachelors Degree, I do have the job of my dreams (& can retire early if I want), I do have a great husband and son, I do have a very fulfilling hobby that I’m turning into a side hustle, I do, I do, I do. We have to learn how to ignore the God of Falling Short, even when he hits us in the middle of the night (which is how Valium helps LOL).
To me, you are SUPER accomplished. You write wonderful books that a ton of us can hardly wait to be released!
Diane Hughes says
There is a theory in psychology that this feeling is considered “existential anxiety,” the anxiety we all feels about not fulfilling all of our potential in life. No one can do so because we all have so many possible potentials to do so many different things. You and Gordon have done an amazing job of fulfilling your potential to write absorbing, entertaining novels full of fully developed, psychologically real characters with histories that explain and make sense of how they became who they are. And you manage all of that while creating alternate worlds that also tie into the psychological understanding of the characters. *And* you surround your characters with a complicated web of relationships and meaningful communities. I say to hell with you perhaps instead becoming five star chefs, enlightened business leaders, influential teachers, or anything else you might have had the potential to accomplish. I’m glad you chose to make all of our daily lives richer by providing us with the wonderful fiction you write.
My life has been good, but so much of it I had anxieties much like you describe. I think a lot of that comes from comparison, not just with the people around us, but also with everything we see in the news, social media, etc. (See Arthur Brooks’ columns about happiness and life). The way I live with it is similar to your God of Small Happiness. Instead of where did I fall short, or what am I missing out on, I try to make each day a good day. I try to define “good” as not just productive, but had pleasant interactions with other, worked on something satisfying (for me quilting), ate something delicious, enjoyed a good book (Thank you Ilona and Gordon for so many good books!), did a few errands with my husband. I also have to remind myself things like: 1. My quilt doesn’t have to be amazing like the ones in the show. I just have to like it. 2. My grown children have their own lives. I am only there to cheer them on and occasionally help out. 3. The goodness of my life has nothing to do with how it compares to anybody else’s life.
Thank you for your perspective on this. Its wonderful to realize our shared human experiences.
Linda Phillips says
Such a great post. That vague feeling following us around of not achieving enough is so real. Especially, I think, here in post protestant Scotland. Luckily I subscribe to the God of Small Happiness! Your books were recommended to me by a Texan friend and were a great help during lockdown as I could escape in your wonderful worlds. Thank you
As a person who suffers from nocturnal anxiety that I combat by fighting aliens between midnight and 3 am, that whispers the evil gospel of the God of Falling Short, that has me asking myself while my boyfriend snores in my ear “what have I done with my life?”… I needed to hear this. Thinking of it as a puny God that only has power if you listen to it and can be combated by a better, happier God… helps. Thank you for this
I went to a therapist once who told me that sometimes its easier to anthropomorphize feelings. I forgot all about it until just now and I think maybe that’s a coping mechanism that I should really try harder to remember. I hope this week brings plentiful small happinesses for everyone.
Being grateful for the small things in life is how I find my joy and happiness.
And beware of chicken 2 is out. Is that the book you are reading?
Love and grateful for your blog like always.
A couple weeks ago the daily cards in my wellness app instructed me to practice gratitude for what one has/is to help combat stress and depression. I got the point, but this blog entry is a much better expression of the idea than the daily blurb was. Plus entertaining 🙂
Taking a moment to appreciate my favorite blog while I drink my green jsamine pearl tea…
I just had my birthday this week and was visited by the God of Falling Short, he seems to be active during birthdays to ask what have we done with our lives as we keep growing older. But I just need to remind myself of the God of Small Happiness and all the little things that serve as bright spots in my days, like I’m currently rereading the Hidden Legacy books and they’re excellent comfort rereads. And like you, I have a stash of delicious teas. And chocolates!
Michele G says
Thank you. Every single person who has posted knows these Gods. Reading these comments make me less isolated. Thank you!!!
The BDH and house Andrews are awesome.
May the God of small happiness bless you. ????????
Amen to that. ????????
How did I not realize you both were Catamounts? I started at WCU but transferred after having too much fun my first two years to reset my GPA.
And My oldest niece, who is obviously a better student than I was, is graduating with honors from Western in May.
What a wonderful unknown connection to have to a pair of wonderful people who frequently bring the blessings of Small Happiness with their blog and stories. ????????
Bill G says
The God of Falling Short is out there, and hits everyone possible with Imposter Syndrome. I’m going to use this as an excuse to copy over Neil Gaiman’s word on it:
Some years ago, I was lucky enough invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things. And I felt that at any moment they would realise that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things.
On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name*. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, “I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.”
And I said, “Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”
And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did. Maybe there weren’t any grown-ups, only people who had worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth, all of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for.
Jane Compeau says
the surest way to conquer the god of falling short is to be thankful every day. Be thankful for the tea, be thankful for health and healthy children, be thankful for a roof that doesn’t leak, be thankful for the BDH. Be thankful for each other. Those are riches millions of people around the world do not have.
As a 70 yo, I’ve dealt with those gods for most of my life until the last couple of years. I’ve learned that they are false gods perpetuated by societal expectations and marketing telling us which brand to buy, what we should own, how we should dress, how we should act, yada yada yada. I spent a great deal of my life trying to live up to these expectations that only exacerbated my low self-esteem, insecurities, and anxiety trying to meet those demands, what a waste of time. You know what is really important? Positive and healthy relationships with those you love, not any of the material things, it is the spiritual that matters.
Ruth S says
This post really resonates with me. I was laid off from a great tech job in January and I feel external pressure to find the next Big Thing.
But I don’t want to. I want to prioritize joy. I am trying to follow the God of Small Happiness and the God of Touch One Life in a Positive way.
This blog proves that you both have touched many, many lives and brought much joy to people — you are Priest and Priestess for the God of TOL.
You share with your hearts (in your books and in this blog). It is the ultimate gift.
That God of falling short is also called consumerism and marketing. The God of small happiness lives in the moment. GOD-DOG. Worship the wagging tail and life with get better.
Ships Cat says
Cats work for the God of Falling Short.
The proverbial “hitting the nail on the head” with this wonderful post. As one of those over-achiever types, not doing more means “falling short.” Simply stupid thinking for all the reasons you note. Ugh. Whenever I feel tired, sad, and other not kind things I note my small gratitude aloud or silently and my mood immediately shifts. Because of you now I will name it the “God of Small Happiness.” This feels more powerful and grinds right over ‘falling short.’ Many thanks.
Tia Jah says
During the last few hours of the last day of my (paid) working life, this post hits home. As I contemplate my 40 year career as a librarian, I briefly think of all the should’a, would’a, could’a’s, but not for long. There is too much to look forward to in my retirement. The God of Small Happiness has certainly blessed me, and I thank you for naming him/her.
Oh all of this & then there’s the god of Imposter Syndrome when I try to step up to do something that might appease the god of Falling Short.
May the god of Small Happiness be with you too. Have you seen Prof Laurie Santos’ work on the Science of Happiness? It’s really interesting.
The god of the “coulda wouda shoulda” list would be my name for the same list.
kick the God of Falling Short right out the door and find a nice little statue/image to place in a niche with a small cup of tea and tell it that it is the God/ess of Small Happiness! And say hi in the morning. You all have achieved staggering things. Amazing things. And raised children. And stayed together. Blessings on your house and work. You are heroes
Oh and please keep writing wonderful things for a very long time. I want those delights for the rest of my life. (I’m older than you, so that is feasible!)
I had windows replaced. They needed it since they were 50 years old. March in MN, 20 degrees weather, and had to remove everything out from around the windows. The small happiness is that I can clean the carpet because the furniture is out of the way. It makes anticipating the cleaning so much more enjoyable. Thank you for the insight. By reframing a chore as a happiness I am now looking forward to batting it done.
Terry L Umble says
I don’t believe that you guys have fallen short. you give thousands of your readers great joy and entertainment in the work that you do. please don’t think you have failed or not achieved. you guys are great.
I so needed to read that today. Thank you, and to you as well.
Have you been eavesdropping on my phone calls and reading my journal? I’ve been dealing with this exact thing lately!
That jerk also likes to make you believe that, even if you have a whole list of attributes and accomplishments, no one but you cares. Then, the god of catastrophizing steps in and tell you that no one will ever hire you and no one will buy your products, so your side hustle and your career will never amount to anything. And you’ll spend the rest of your life working yourself to death in the same dead-end job…
I may have given this a tad bit too much thought.
Steve L says
I nominate Curran and Kate to go Kick the god of falling shorts ass back out of our reality, and make it leave you alone. I can say for me, and I suspect other members of BDH. That you and yours, are our gods of little, and often big happiness. How often does this page give a much needed break or a smile when we needed it most. Never mind the excitement of your upcoming works! Also I love and cherish every second I spend rereading every single book you write at least once a year!
Thank You for your hard work!!
Anna L says
Omg i needed that today because i feel like that god is constantly over my shoulder
Anna L says
Also your books are like a security blanket, when im feeling stressed i reach for them!
The God of Falling Short is a great way to externalise what many of us feel. But it is an internally created god. There is no standard to meet, no set tick list to achieve.
I focus on not measuring myself against others, that seems to lead to envy or pride which have never seemed very useful. Or enjoyable.
And I’ve boiled down my macro to-do list to one thing: be kind. To myself and others. Always a work in progress. But that’s great because the journey is, I think, more fun and interesting and rewarding than arriving (if there’s even anywhere to arrive to).
And I do worship the Gods of Small Pleasures. Why stop at one? I can have a god for each happiness I find: the beautiful sunrise I see; the rain that means I don’t need to water the garden; the weird philosophy paper that makes me rethink my views on something; the Excel spreadsheet I got to do something cool; that joke that made me laugh; the book someone recommended on a blog that pulled me into a great new world; that noun I randomly verbed in the middle of a meeting because random verbing is a great hobby. Little happy Gods of Small Pleasures popping up all over the place. And they are my gods so they don’t squabble and fight but take delight in each other (although they might indulge in some practical jokes).
Aminah Cherry says
thank you fir this, truly
Ilona, You are the perfect example for people who can achieve a fine career without college. There are an abundance of fine tech schools if needed, but many things can be done on one’s own with a computer and lots of study. One can become a great craftsman with study and lots of practice.
Love, love, love this post. It’s reflective of your very fine writing, my world view and all of our lives. You ARE enough. I AM enough. And its time for me to take a tea and reading break. The God of Small Happiness is calling.
Thank you. I didn’t realize how much I needed this right now. Wishing all the best (sleep/dreams) to you as well!
Sending a hug from another plagued by the god of Falling Short, whose minions are the demigods of imposter syndrome. May the god of Small Happiness, find you frequently and unexpectedly.
Love this insight. So true
Kat in NJ says
Ilona, I didn’t get a chance to respond to this until just now, but respond I must. I apologize in advance that this is so long, but it is very much heartfelt.
Today is my 64th birthday. Birthdays don’t normally ‘bother’ me because I am a great believer in “it’s just a number and you are only as old as you feel” and I have always felt much younger than the calendar insists I am. This is not the case today.
This morning, I very much felt the God Of Falling Short sitting on my shoulder judging me harshly. Part of it was realizing that the years ahead number fewer than the years behind. Part of it was realizing that although I did not intend to retire yet, I am retired because ageism is real. (I didn’t want to believe that when my last employer laid off a bunch of 60+ year olds at the beginning of the pandemic. Unfruitful job searches helped convince me.)And part of it is realizing that I haven’t really done much in the last three years….three years (or more?) wasted.
But were they really wasted?For example, just in the past 3 years, I have rediscovered my great love of reading (side note: your books started me back on that track!)???? and I have devoured app. 200+ books in that time. I rededicated myself to becoming a great home cook (at first it was out of the necessity of avoiding restaurants during the pandemic but now I really love exploring and creating so many new things I never tried before.) And most importantly, I have enjoyed precious time with my family.
My daughter just gave me the most beautiful birthday card and said she didn’t know what she’d do without me. Yes, it made me cry big ol’ happy tears! No matter what else I managed (or will manage) to achieve, she will always be my most amazing, incredible, and magical achievement by far. (I suspect you and Gordon can say the same about your kids!) ????
Your posting helped me realize all of this, and I am happy to report the God Of Small Happiness is now sitting firmly on my shoulder, and he has chased that other guy away. I am very, very grateful to you for helping me to see it really is all about perspective.
I wish you many, many blessings (both small and big!) Life is good…we just have to ignore that God of Falling Short and appreciate it. (And anyway, he’s a big jerk!) ????
Moderator R says
Happy birthday, Kat! ????
Kat in NJ says
Thank you Mod R. I can honestly say that after a bit of a rocky (mood wise) start, it was indeed a happy birthday! ????
Gail G says
Hope to remember the God of Small Happiness…so much nicer than the fool god of falling short, the bum????
Nancy Pollan says
Thank you, and may you also be so blessed.
Love it – “God of falling short” …. Couldn’t have said it better myself
This really resonated with me today. I feel like the God of Falling Short is taking out its anger on me right now. I found out earlier that the job I had interviewed for—the one I really wanted and thought I’d be good at—is going to someone else. I’m heartbroken. It surprises me, though, to think that the authorlords have those feelings too. Your New York Times bestsellers! You write exciting books and have a BDH that loves you! You’re great!
I’ve been so touched by all the kind and comforting things everyone has said to you. I want to apologize to the BDH, though. A few years ago, you had shared some info about moving to another state, and everyone was giving you advice. I thought they were overdoing it and said so. I was wrong. It’s wonderful to have so many people who care so much about you. I don’t think you two take it for granted. Thank you for listening.
I like the god of Small Happiness. I’m a mental health professional and sure often I take with people about falling short of who we think we are supposed to become. A very wise woman told me years ago that we are always becoming so we will never finally make it to that place we think we are supposed to achieve. It was very helpful and allowed me to let go of the god of falling short. Its the journey that’s important, the destination awaits us all and it’s death. Small happinesses are miraculous. Thanks for sharing them.
Janet Fuller says
I disagree that you are falling short. You are both amazing writers. Millions of devoted fans wait for your books to come out. You appear to have raised independent and happy daughters and are loving parents. You adopt and support cats and dogs. However the animals should kill the scorpions. Please don’t doubt you or Gordon.
Thank you so very much for that post. It brought to mind the many, many moments where that whisper said ‘not good enough’. But every time I think of the road not taken or the decision that cost me money that I could really use now or look at my house and see clutter and mess versus Southern Living page 47 — my husband reminds me how blessed and fortunate we are, and thanks me for walking our dog, refilling his glass of tea, or for “being wonderful”. The God of Small Kindnesses works through the ones who love you.
Faith Freewoman says
THis is EXACTLY what I needed to hear/read this week.
Thank you SO much. I feel better already.
I needed this.
Turning 70 this year.
Speaking of the “God of Falling Short”, I have meant for years to write you both a letter expressing how much joy your work brings me and never have, so here goes.
ANYTIME you think you have not accomplished as much as you should, please think about the 50 some amazing books you have published (rough count as I look at my bookshelf) not to mention all the short stories, blog posts, and wonderful community you have built here. I am not a “blog person.” I think this is the second time I have actually come to the site and commented as I pretty much just signed up for the emails to make sure I never missed a new book. But in reading the sporadic emails I do, and the recent dedications in your books, it is clear that not only are you talented writers, you are good people. I know it’s specific stuff selected for the blog and you are human and all that, blah, blah, blah, but we can tell even through that, the genuine characters you have.
I am fortunate enough to be at a point in my life where my needs are met. But also at the point where there aren’t many things that give me the old “Christmas morning” excitement/anticipation that happened when I was younger. But the one material thing I treasure and still makes me this happy is a new book from you two.
I horde them for a months after they are released (although I buy them as soon as a print version is available) and then when I’m feeling really down I start by re-reading all the prior books in the series and then finally, finally, read the new one. This has become more of a challenge with the Kate Daniels series :).
I have moved a lot in my life, and your books have become old friends, comfort during difficult times…fantastical places to escape reality for a few minutes or hours. My “happy place” is outside in a hammock on a perfectly crisp fall day, trying to slow myself down from reading the entire new book of yours all at once. It doesn’t matter who the characters are, what series it is, I always know it’s going to be superb.
Being an adult doesn’t bring much joy these days, but you do. Your books do. You make a difference, more than you can ever imagine.
Thank you from all of us.
Badmama Battillo says
One Saturday recently, Hubby and I were perusing the shelves of our local adult Disney World (a new Publix, WaHoo!)when we came upon a small framed saying: “Love is being Stupid together.” We came to a stop, enchanted by the wisdom of the essayist immortalized on the grocery wall. Of course we had to purchase one of the framed messages for our home. We hung it on our family portrait wall where we have many photos of us proving this wisdom. My daughter and her family came over for dinner a few days later, and on a visit to the “necessary, she happened to see our new addition and insisted she wanted a copy for her own home! Since the occasion of the shared meal happened to be her birthday (which we usually always celebrate for a week for each of the children) I promised to pick up one for her as an additional love gift. 🙂
The point of this rambling story is that it IS a truism-we are often the MOST stupid with the ones we love, simply because we know that if it is true love, the feeling will be reciprocated and life will go on happily because we have someone that we can be ourselves with and know that they will stay and love us anyway!
When GoFS taps on my shoulder, I sigh and tell him: “I’m just trying to live my life man”.
And also, as I once told my mother (context forgotten), “Not everyone can be outstanding – some of us have to be mediocre!”
You both seem like you’ve done a great job so far though, just my opinion 🙂
This needs to be on a poster….. love it. Reminds me that we are not all on this planet to exceed “beyondour wildest dreams’, but to be human. We, none of us are “faliures”, we do what we do, some days good, some days bad, but living in the NOW, is where we are …. I find its the reaching for that makes us miserable. Just be here…now.
When I first read this blog a couple of days ago, in a short break snatched from too much life happening, it brought me to tears. While the comments confirm that these feelings are nearly universal, it still shocked me that someone as accomplished as Ilona could feel that way. You’ve all got a good handle on it though as long as you can remember it.
Susan Reynolds says
I know there are lots of places in my life where I haven’t lived up to what I should have been, and I wake up some nights and worry about what a rotten person I really am. One way I try to deal with it is remembering that I have been forgiven by Someone who is much nicer and smarter than I am, and another way is to spend some time every morning thanking that Someone for all the good things in our world–bookstores and electricity and functional indoor plumbing and sewage treatment plants, just to name a few. Asking that these blessings be extended to the rest of the world helps keep me focused on trying to live up to being better. I can’t say I worship the God of Small Happinesses, but stopping to say thank you is a big part of my daily happiness.
Speaking of which, House Andrews has been a huge source of happiness and this blog has been terrific. And someday, hopefully at a time which does not cause you undue stress, we will have many more lovely books of yours to read. Having thousands or millions of people who look forward to your books means you have a great influence and you have succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of most authors. It’s ok to wonder what might have been if things had gone differently, but I think the lives you have lived have enriched your books tremendously.
Small happiness is not so small after all. It is everything. Contentedness, if I can make that a word, is so important. This combats my dissatisfaction, insecurity, my have I done enough. I think about the challenging path to med school, the challenging path through med school, and the challenges since med school. Not all brightness and glee. To combat any insecurity my sitting in the right now-ness, never comparing myself to others, my content at having a right now comes through. This keeps me from competing with others online, from being dissatisfied with right now, and just grateful. So grateful to be able to read your work. Thank you for all your efforts. Thank you for struggling through.
Gosh, I needed this so much! Thanks for making me realize I am not alone… and also reminding me of the importance of the small moments of happinness in my life.
your writing makes me so happy! please take joy in that, I know I do.
This was very thought-provoking. Thank you.
This really resonated. Thank you.
Sherri Pelzel says
As someone who is getting older (69), this deeply resonated with me. I have so many half-done hobbies, and I should have pursued my writing, maybe had a different career. This god of God of Falling Short can be a real Debbie Downer. But then I read about the God of Small Happiness and how this is telling us, yet again, to live in the moment we have and not dwell where we either don’t live anymore or haven’t made it to yet. Thank you, I needed this.
We always referred to that “falling short” feeling as ‘Catholic guilt’ (12 years of Catholic schooling). I like your explanation better, in major part because you’ve provided an antidote. I can get behind a ‘God of small happiness’ quite happily. thank you.????
And you as well. THank you.
so so true … i can identify with the God of falling short …
i like the idea of God of small happiness …