Sometimes, I sit myself down to think about things, and one of the questions I ask myself is, “Am I happy? Is anyone happy?” What makes me happy? When am I happiest? Who makes me happy? And if I am happy, do I take it for granted? I must, or I wouldn’t be asking the question. And is happiness a permanent state of mind or a series of moments that break up the unhappy and mundane moments? Can we choose to be happy even when things go wrong?
I know when something makes me unhappy. So many things do that I even started this blog so I could complain about it. Let’s see, we have noisy, inconsiderate neighbors, having to come up with dinner ideas every night, plumbing problems, not finding a parking spot, traffic, all the usual stuff that gets under most people’s skin. But all of it is momentary and/or fixable. Everyday brings with it, it’s own aggravations and irritations…that’s life. Do those things really make me unhappy or just extremely annoyed?
One thing I do know is that everyone wants to be happy. That’s the goal in life. That’s what motivates us to work hard so we can have the “things” that bring us happiness: the nicest cars, the big homes, the vacations, best clothes, etc. all the things that makes us happy, or should makes us happy. The problem is, that happiness is fleeting. Once we have acquired something, we begin thinking about the next thing we need to be happy. “I’ll be happy when I have the perfect house, when I am married, when I find the right job, when I have a baby, when I get that promotion, when I win the lottery” as though any of these things is going to makes us truly happy. If that’s the case, then why are so many celebrities in rehab or should be, getting divorces, in unhappy unfulfilled relationships, when they have all the things most of us can only dream of? No, true happiness cannot be bought and found in material things, even though we have convinced ourselves that it can be.
I was thinking, how many of us would totally give up everything we had at this moment to be one of these celebrities? Sure, you might give up your modest home, your meager bank account, your jewelry, your clothes…all your worldly possessions, because you’d be trading up…way up. But would you give up your spouse, your parents, your family and friends, or your children? If you would, then I’m not talking to you in this blog. I’m talking to those people who know what real love is and know that love, is what I believe, the true source of happiness. Unfortunately, love is also the source of pain. But we are all in the same boat.
I tried to imagine myself, for a second, giving up everything and everyone to be Oprah. She is probably the richest and one of the most respected women on the planet. In a few seconds I thought about the horrors of her childhood, the amount of her life she has devoted to working, and the fact that even with all her money, she is now stressing over making a success out of her OWN network. I wouldn’t be “happy” living in her shoes, even if I would enjoy a lot of the benefits. I could never give up the people I love to be who she is and do what she does. Oprah is fulfilled by her work. I am fulfilled by my family. Oprah decided not to be a mother, I would never be happy not having children. Even if I had everything I could possibly want in this world and more money than I could spend in ten lifetimes (or more), I would not be happy without my children. I could not trade my parents for her parents, my family for her family, my friends for her friends.
I know when I am most happy and at peace. It’s when I am surrounded by my little family. It doesn’t matter where or when, all that matters is who. Nothing else is really important to me. All the rest is material fluff. Things will come and go, but people are not replaceable. Relationships are priceless.
You know what I wish? I wish I had the wisdom to know years ago, what I know now. I wish I had really been aware of how fleeting time is and how precious the time with my own parents really was. Instead, like most of us, I thought they would be around forever, until one day they weren’t. I spent a lot of time with my parents and I made sure my children did too. But, I’m not so sure I really appreciated that time as much as I should have or could have. I did my fair share of complaining and eye rolling when they offered advice, which I heard as criticism. But, the bottom line is that they always wanted the best for me, my family and my brother. They wanted to see us all happy. And we were. We were because of their love for us and for all the things they taught us. And I think we made them happy in return by showing them the love and respect they deserved.
When I think of happiness, it never comes down to “what” makes me happy, but “who” makes me happy.