If you have lived even a short period of time, you know there are plenty of excuses to choose unhappiness over real or imagined joy.
We are humans...imperfect, flawed, and prone to taking paths that will eventually set a course for distress, or even just a slight twinge of melancholy.
Why is that?
We know the things we should be doing, and yet we continually push past our good sense, and rush down the slide of life...determined to make it fun, yet destined to crash and burn at the end.
In some ways, I speak metaphorically, but I do believe that this is too often the case.
I know it, because I've lived it.
I know what I should do.
I am aware of the equation that equals happiness (or joy).
And yet, all too often, I invite misery to walk beside me as my closest companion, even if it is for a brief stroll.
So, how can we be assured of a happy day...month...year?
Well, first of all...we can't.
I don't want to be a downer here. After all, we are trying to explore ways to "Get Happy!"
However, there is no guarantee of our happiness.
We are exceptionally driven to expect the worst, and even pursue it.
Now, I am aware that there are many of us who find ourselves in circumstances we didn't choose. A loved one died, a job was lost, or we were betrayed by a friend.
In those times, we must go through a process of grieving, and we certainly won't feel like smiling through the tears.
What I am speaking to are the times when we are aware that our daily choices are affecting our yearly outcomes. We are tired...we are cranky...and we are barely making it.
Here is what we know:
We know we shouldn't stay up into the late hours of the night catching up on our shows, but we do it anyway, and experience the headache and heartless mood that we are almost guaranteed to wake up with.
We are aware of what happens when we schedule something every single day of the week, and yet we are determined to fill every single white space in that calendar, because someone or something needs us!
We know that there are not always enough hours in the day to ensure that our family is well-educated, well-exercised, well-fed, and well-satisfied with the amount of extra curricular activities we think are helpful, and yet we sign ourselves up for everything possible.
Let me let you in on a little secret. It's one that I keep whispering to myself too.
Our children (or us) do not have to participate in every single thing we think might bring them joy and eternal satisfaction. They simply cannot do it all. And frankly, neither can we.
We are driving them and ourselves to mental and physical exhaustion, and there is high price tag on that decision.
If we are always chasing something that is impossible to grasp, we will live in a state of exasperation, not enjoyment.
Consider this: If you are always running - never resting. If you are always reaching - never holding, and if you are always climbing and never taking in the view, what will you have at the end of your life?
I love this quote from Rick Warren:
“Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can't make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you'll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time.
It is not enough to just say relationships are important; we must prove it by investing time in them. Words alone are worthless. "My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action." Relationships take time and effort, and the best way to spell love is "T-I-M-E.”
I mean, let's be honest. Our families will typically operate in a smoother manner when we are spending quality time together in the sacred space called home. There is no substitute for the special moments spent around a dinner table, or working on homework together in an unhurried manner.
It's not easy, but I do believe that when we say no to the extras, and yes to the essentials, we embrace more purposeful lifestyle choices.
You and your children can indeed find your "happy place." But, it may mean saying no to a few things. It may mean clearing space on that calendar so that there are more than 2 blank boxes in the month.
The happiness equation is as simple as this...
Once we put down our unrealistic expectations, and live in a purposeful manner, we will find a more content way of life.
One that says, "I don't need to do everything I thought I did."
One that exudes peace, calm, and grace, even in the middle of a crazy "household storm."
One that inspires togetherness, not fragmented craziness.
Let's do this.
Let's get happy.
*images from Unsplash