Friday, April 26, 2013
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is ingrained in our American culture. What makes you happy? Is it the same things that made your parents happy? Do things that made you happy in the past seem to have lost their luster?
What makes us happy is a lot like marriages when you think about it. I frequently tell couples in counseling sessions that marriage doesn’t work. Never has. Never will. Period. Why? Because marriage is not an entity, it’s a thing. The “marriage” can’t do anything. True, it’s not an object like the other things that “make” us happy. It’s an idea. In either case, things and ideas are nothing unto themselves. What works or doesn’t work in a marriage, or what makes us happy, is not the thing or the idea. It’s us.
The reason why living life like our parents did may not be satisfying to us is because it’s not the way we want to live our life. Truth be told, our parents may have been living their lives the way they did because that’s the way our grandparents did, or because they thought a certain course was expected of them. The human species is not a “one-size-fits-all” organism. Actually, I’ve never understood how anything can be “one-size-fits-all.” All of what?!? But I digress…
Each of us is an individual, with our unique hopes, dreams, desires and life course. Finding out what our true purpose is in life is part of the solution to being happy. Happiness, however, is not the goal. Happiness is a byproduct of something far more elusive: Contentment. To be content with what we have creates the happiness and peace so many people seek. Contentment is not complacency. It is not taking what you get and feeling that’s all you deserve. We can always strive to improve our conditions. We experience contentment, however, when we are blessing everything and everyone around us. This is only possible if we are also willing to let go of the past. That means being willing on a daily basis to forgive people who we feel have wronged us and release all the past hurts, mistakes and things we wish we would have done differently.
Be willing this week, if you will, to let go of your expectations of how everyone else should be living their lives and focus on what you must do to create a life worth living. Let it be filled with the joy of the present, not regrets of the past. Accept all the good around you and share that abundance with others. Note of caution: Your ego is probably having a conniption fit right about now. Thank it for being there and for trying to protect you. But this time, send it off to bed. It doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
Do this and you will be happier than ever before, perhaps not today, or tomorrow, but sooner than you might have expected. With all of this you have a choice. Ask yourself, Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy? Choosing right all the time is exhausting, people will despise you and you’ll get a pimple. Not pretty. Choose happy, okay?
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,