Research

Happiness Is… Research Note #4

I habitually plan ahead, but there are lots of things I only learn by doing (and failing). Likewise, experiences drive home the principles I  intend to remember but somehow forget.

Such was the case today, as I got to work on a new project sewing twill tape and transparent vinyl. I had a slow start, as I learned to reconcile the surprisingly stretchy twill tape with the not stretchy-at-all vinyl. It took a few hours for me to find a rhythm and start to make real progress.

So at dinner, I sang my sewing machine’s praises. It felt trusty, reliable, like a lithium ion drill driver—I finally felt like my burgeoning skills are appropriately utilizing some of the machine’s capacities, while the promise of more advanced projects lay ahead for the two of us.

It was ironic, then, when my sewing machine’s feed dogs stopped advancing. Then, the reverse lever offered none of its usual resistance. Something snapped, inside the machine first, and then inside me second. I panicked. I have a lot of production ahead of me during this residency, and most of it requires sewing. I don’t have time for the machine to sit in a repair shop!

But this is the reality, and I must conform to it. As Martin Seligman explains in Flourish, there are realities you can shape, and those you can’t. I can’t change the fact that my sewing machine needs repair. But I can work so that this setback doesn’t derail my residency.

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