This post has been rumbling around in my head for quite a while. I haven’t been exactly sure how to get it on paper so that it sounds right. I’ve decided to just go with it and hope my meaning comes through. Have you noticed that happy seems to be the trendy buzzword these days? It seems that everywhere you look – magazine articles, self-help books, blog posts, newspaper articles and TV interviews are all giving us tips on how to be happy. I wonder if you also think that there is far too much emphasis on being happy these days. I feel like we are being bombarded with messages making it seem as if we should all be pursuing some far off unreachable constant state of euphoria.
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m all about happy. I think I am generally a happy and content person. I think (hope) others would say that about me. I even bought into some of the hype and picked up this mug the other day.
Now I think it’s sending the wrong message.
I think the amount of focus on being happy is a little ridiculous. As I’ve said, I’m all about being happy and joyful. I often talk about not letting things “steal my joy”. Being happy and content and satisfied are important and go toward a full, healthy life. However, there are so many voices out there telling us to be happy, how to find happiness, how to be happy where we are and similar tips, that it seems as if our main goal in life should be to make sure we are happy each and every second of the day. I think a lot about this when I hear parents talk about their children and say, “I just want them to be happy.” What does that even mean?
I may be in the minority here. I don’t think my parents ever said this about me. I don’t think I say this about my own children. In fact, I often tell the Third Son that he has to choose to be happy each day. His happiness is completely up to him. What I do want for my children is pretty concrete, though, and similar to what was impressed upon me by my own parents. I want our boys to be good men. I want them to have good hearts. I want them to be productive members of their community. I want them to have a good work ethic and be able to find work that suits them and allows them to live good lives. I want them to have all sorts of life experiences that broaden their perspectives and help them grow. I know that they will have challenges and I want them to be able to handle those challenges with strength and grace and know that they have a great big wonderful God who will be with them every step of the way.
I want my children to have goals and find their own way to pursue those goals. And, let’s be honest here. I want my boys to have families of their own because I can’t wait to be a grandmother! (I also secretly want at least one of my sons to have a daughter so I can buy lots of pink!) It is my belief that if my sons can get up and live each day fully, have friends and family who love them, use the gifts that God has given them and learn to appreciate the small, as well as the big joys of their days, that they will experience happiness.
I don’t wany my children to think that this life is only about being happy each second of a day. That is just not realistic. There will be many unhappy times in their lives. And that is okay. During life we all have periods of ups and downs. Life can be tough. There may be disappointments, sad life events, perhaps job losses, missed opportunities, regrets, periods of hard grief and loss. There will be unhappy periods. However, these periods do not have to define a person. There are ways to find small pleasures, joys and happiness even during life’s valleys. I want my boys to know that.
It’s not that I am a Debbie Downer. I am a huge fan of Gretchen Rubin, an author who writes on habits and happiness. I am an avid listener of her podcast, Happier. She and her sister, who is the co-host, aren’t telling their listeners that they are supposed to be happy at all times. They are often offering tips to make some of life’s unhappy moments and situations a “little happier”. They offer little tips on ways to make situations easier, hacks to make life more convenient and listener advice on personal experiences. I love listening to these little tips to add a little happy to a day.
Unfortunately, I think the loud and large messages forcing happiness on us only help create unhappiness. If one isn’t feeling euphoric, at the pinnacle of happiness, overflowing with joy at all times, then what is he doing wrong? Unfortunately, I think the message our children seem to be getting and seems to be so prevalent on social media and other outlets, is that life is all about being happy. I disagree. Rather, I see happiness as a by-product of seizing the day, doing good works, being grateful, having people to love, and experiencing all that life offers, big or small.
What do you think?
Enjoy Your Day!