“Happiness is not a goal. It’s the by-product of a life well lived.” Eleanor Roosevelt
If you’re like me, you learned from your parents’ discipline techniques what worked with your own children, and you remembered practices that didn’t work and vowed not to repeat them.
My only sibling, a younger brother, and I are five years apart. All of our lives, we experienced normal sibling rivalries alongside extra tension that eventually left us estranged. No matter how bad things were between us, Mom’s saying and solution remained the same for decades, “I just wish the two of you could get along.”
Mom’s long gone and, so far, her wish hasn’t come true. The part of this that applies to today’s blog post is that, even as a child, I questioned what “get along” looked like and what she was really asking for and wanted from us. When I got older, I wondered why she wished for something so abstract that even if we accomplished it, we probably wouldn’t have known it without seeing something tangible.
If we had set recognizable, measurable goals like respect, acceptance during conversations, and acts of helping out each other, it would have counted for something. The Bible compares us to fruit trees because God expects us to actually produce something, not just wish for it.
The futility of setting “get along” as a goal seemed obvious, but not the futility of setting happiness as one. I foolishly wished for a fairy tale life like Cinderella.
I could ask myself the same questions I wondered about my mom when she wished we’d get along. What does “happy” look like and what do I really want from it? Just like getting along, isn’t “being happy” so abstract that even if I accomplished it, I may not know it without seeing something tangible?
I never wished for my son and daughter to get along because I knew better, but I wished for them and us to be happy. I wished for fairy tales all around.
These days, though, I wish for well-lived lives – ones with recognizable and measurable goals like respect, acceptance, and help.
Instead of seeking short-lived happiness like Cinderella, I’m happiest when I’m living well, which means living my purpose and serving others.
In This Together,
FYI: I’m blogging my book titled On The Other Side of Trying Hard: Healing, Happiness, and Holiness. Because the blog posts will eventually be an entire manuscript instead of stand-alone stories, some posts may leave you hanging. I hope you’ll hang in here with us anyway ‘cause a happy ending is coming. Each blog post title includes the chapter title first. The phrase in parentheses is one subheading within the chapter. I’d love to hear your reflections, questions, and suggestions. I’m over-the-top grateful you’re here.