This article landed in my lap at just about the right time. Lately I have become absolutely intolerant of people who take the “it will MAKE me happy” approach to their lives. Then they get married or change careers or do whatever the heck it is they think will MAKE them happy and then big surprise, they are no happier. Drives me crazy. (I am sure the fact that I have been suspended in time in 40C heat with no air conditioning for the last four days has only helped fuel my irritability and impatience with people. Just saying.)
There is a line in the article about a couple who returned only a decade later to the cafe they once sat at regularly before their children arrived and I think that statement speaks volumes about their values. It obviously wasn’t an important part of their life to steal away time to go to the cafe. It is totally reasonable to expect that your values will change – as your life does. Yet there is this sentiment (at least the way I read it) that somehow that is a really sad thing – a regret that life turned out this way. Didn’t someone already coin the phrase “the grass is always greener on the other side”? I say: get over it! You can choose to be happy or choose to be miserable – at the end of the day, if you haven’t decided for yourself which way you’re going – marriage, children, wealth, job security, etc… are not going to make a tiny little bit of difference. Nothing can MAKE you happy and viewing children as some kind of antidote to a mediocre life is just ludicrous.
I think it is great that many parents feel that their lives have been enriched by the very existence of their children – in addition to all of the personal growth that comes with learning how to be a good parent. That’s fantastic and I hope that more people come to realize that. I just can’t get behind those who are seeking external sources of happiness in little human beings who frankly deserve to develop their own hopes and expectations for their own lives and not bear the burden of their parents’ whole life’s happiness.
I believe this Globe piece speaks to the idea that building a life for yourself and being happy – contrary to popular belief – is not dependent upon being a parent or having money or getting married and so on… I am just going to say this (possibly knowing that I am tempting the fates in doing so): but if I were to die tomorrow, I would have absolutely no regrets about my life. That isn’t to say that there isn’t more I want to do on this earth. (Oh don’t worry. There is plenty more to come!) But I would leave behind my life, my family, my husband and my work knowing that I built a life for myself first and foremost and lived it to the fullest. Would it be sad for those in my life? Yes, of course. But it will always be sad – even if I were to die at 90 years of age warm in my bed. That’s what happens when you are loved. Would it be sad for me? If I had not cherished every moment of my life, every path that I chose to explore, every laugh with my husband, every family vacation, every phone call with my mom, every grocery shopping excursion with my dad, every time my brother and I have baked together, every moment of play with my dogs, every travel adventure, every bite of sumptious food I have ever eaten, every educational reward, every professional victory, every little bit of social change I was part of making happen, every work day since the birth of iNSPiRED PRACTiCE, every hug from a friend….then I would be sad. But I am not. Because I have done all of those things and more, and that is why I am happy. Not because something or someone has MADE me happy.
Happy is as happy does.