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Photo: Our happiness is in our hands.

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This year I celebrated my 30th wedding anniversary, and in fact my husband and I have been “an item” for almost 34 years.  I have worked at the same university for 22 years. One of my closest friends is someone I met at my very first job 38 years ago and I fixed her up with her husband who I have known for 40 years. I still live in the community I was raised in and I have been in the same house for 24 years. I guess you can say that I know how to stick with something or someone for the long haul.

The secret to staying in the same house is easy, and my sister is a master at it. She rearranges furniture moving things not only around the room but around the house so that you don’t recognize the room you walked through that morning. And in this economic period of recovery most of us are hanging on to houses to see if we can recoup some of the value they lost in the downturn.

Staying married or remaining good friends over the years is a bit more complicated. Without some effort and commitment it is easy to think we have outgrown those around us, or for them to outgrow us. As we age and gain more experience our interests change, our outlook and opinions shift, and circle of friends expands and contracts. Those people who were our mainstay may no longer share the same views and perspectives and that can cause some friction or concern.

But I actually think there is a lot to be said for my sisters “bored with the house” methods of revitalization.  I think we are often just bored with the others in our lives because we haven’t looked at what they have in their other rooms. We, and that would be both parties, get lazy and that can lead to boredom. We haven’t really paid attention to the other spaces in the ”house”, other aspects of each other’s lives, or different elements of our jobs, that might provide the refurbishing or revitalizing that we need to keep things lively. We get stuck in what we see before us and don’t look much deeper.

One of the things I have learned over time is that I am responsible for creating or finding my own sense of happiness and contentment. It is easy to look at what is missing from what’s around us, but it is much more fun and even rewarding to look a bit deeper to find those surprises that keep us together and engaged.

Sometimes we do need a fresh start and we need to end things for something new and better to begin. But sometimes we change because we are bored or afraid to make the changes we need. Take a moment and look through the “house” and search for those hidden treasures that can be brought to the living room as you rearrange your furniture. You will never know what is hidden in the basement or attic until you start to look.