Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Happiness is..."

To get my blog out of its bloggy slump and to connect with some other bloggers out there in blogland (and because Heather of the EO is doing it), I've decided to join Momalom for their current Five for Ten event. (Except it's day 3, and I'm a bit behind...)

Today's topic is "Happiness is."

I'm having a lot of trouble with this one (I know, I just got started, and already I'm having trouble) because I so very seldom use the word happy. I try to focus on joy, on contentment. When I think about the things I wish for my children, I want them to be happy for sure, but even more than happiness I want them to be content with their lives, to be satisfied, to be fulfilled. In the words of Thoreau, I want them to "live live deep and suck out all the marrow of life." Sometimes that isn't always happy work. It's complex and confusing, often arduous and sometimes painful.

"Happy," for me, conjures up images of neatly wrapped packages all tied up with pretty bows. Sometimes we receive those packages in life. And it's beautiful when we do. It's lovely to receive one of those gifts and have the excitement of unwrapping what's inside. It's lovely to have one of those moments when everything is tied up neatly, just for that moment, shimmering and sparkling and just plain pretty. But that's exactly what they are...just moments. It's not a whole lifetime of one beautiful present after another. Often our gifts come plainly wrapped with little fanfare, and we have to work for them. We have to dig up the treasure, get some dirt under our fingernails, sweat a little. And that, I think, is where the real joy comes from, the contentment that isn't just skin-deep happiness.

What it really comes down to for me is that life is really about people. It's about loving others out of the overflow of God's love for us. And loving others, although it can be filled with happy moments, is not always happy work. The depth and strength of the love we build when we endure life's less-than-happy moments is where we find true contentment and fulfillment. It is the true lifeblood, the marrow, of our lives.



  1. hello! i am over from momalom and wanted to share how thoughtful i found your post. your desires for your children's well-being and happiness/satisfaction really spoke to me. these days i feel there is such a strong desire to "make" kids happy by giving them what they want and signing them up for activities and playdates, etc.
    i think there is joy and beauty in being content with the simple things and appreciating things that come a little slower.

  2. There is something to be said for years of contentment rather than dabs of happy. I hope my kids have that contentment - but also those moments of pure, unexpected joy.

  3. You know, I think happiness and contentment and joy are all parts of the whole in a well-lived life. I was just talking with my daughter, Vespera, about marriage the other night, and I said that while fun and vacations, camping trips and romantic nights on the town can be really good for marriage and they break up the monotony of day-to-day life, marriage is built on the small stuff, the things we can do for each other every day to communicate our love.

    I think that happiness is like the fun nights on the town, but deep fulfillment comes from the day to day living.

  4. thanks for stopping by my blog...and i loved being lead to yours.

  5. I think you're right, happiness can be like those little gifts... I think I wrote elsewhere also this evening, unexpected and always welcome, but not an every day mandatory occurrence.

  6. I don't think we've ever really talked about this idea before (happiness vs. joy/contentment), and I find is so fascinating that your dislike of "happy" is the same as my mom's...

  7. Also over from Momalom. I couldn't agree more - and nice to meet you.


  8. I love the idea of getting dirt under your nails. And even more that you said happiness is about people. There is so much happiness to be found in others, with others, observing others. Joy. Contentment. Happiness. Whatever you call it, it is there for the taking.

  9. Tesha, Sometimes I wonder if the dislike of "happy" is actually a throwback to conservative we're supposed to be seeking something more permanent than happiness, or, perhaps, it's somehow wrong to be happy. I didn't want to communicate that here. I think happiness is *part* of a full life, but it's not the whole picture. I think there are more things to seek than happiness, and some are, perhaps, more important.

    And it seems to me that if people seek happiness alone, they end up being pretty selfish, often walking on other people's happiness in the process. Happiness by itself is too hedonistic.

  10. Jen, I had a hard time figuring out where to land with this post, and I almost wrote the whole thing about I'm glad you appreciated that part. We humans we born for relationship with others, and I think that's where we find that true kind of happiness, that joy and contentment.


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