More than territories or trophies, each of us fights this one battle most insistently: we want to be happy.
It seems so fundamentally necessary that we use it to justify all kinds of behaviours: as long as he/she/they are happy.
Evidence for this happy-ness search is everywhere we look, and at every life stage:
Children repeat things that bring on parental delight.
Teens adjust everything from hair to habits to fit in with their peers.
Adults chase after every shiny thing that promises this ecstatic state: position, power, and pleasure.
We become blue and even abjectly despondent should we find ourselves in an unhappy place, or state. We may even go to pieces, rant, or throw a pity party.
More than a decade ago, I wrote a small book, Simple Tips for Happy Kids — because I believe that happiness is a birthright of children. God knows, unhappiness is real and increases with the years, so why torment these little souls with it so soon? I have both heard and wrestled with the possibility that allowing our kids to be happy may make them soft, but that seemed stupid upon deeper thought.
Healthy bonding and happy memories are what make for a sturdy foundation.
So many great stories of hope and resilience convey this: the protagonist has glimpsed, tasted, experienced some happy thing, and it has imprinted upon the soul and cast an anchor that held steady in stormy waters. The child, friend, and lover armed with a memory defeats the odds in the hope of reuniting with the beloved. Heck, even the dog, who goes on an unlikely journey homeward.
The study of the inner world of humans, psychology, has also shifted from pathology to positivity. We are more than problems to be fixed. We are aspiring beings who seek to transcend our circumstances, and experience happiness to be well.
But, how many of us, believe we can be happy, anymore?
When I was eight, a schoolmate brought a boxy pencil case to school. It had a lid that snapped and opened with a magnetic snap, and it had two ‘floors’! My eyes grew large at the organizational marvel of having my pencils, eraser, ruler, and maybe a few stickers neatly spaced out and…