This is what I see when I look at this photo. Not crazy happy like everything is perfect, far from it, but we are happy. For this one moment in time, I see smiles, silliness, love and summer. We are all together and it’s my happiness.
This weekend is always an emotional one for me. Summer is winding down and the season of unscheduled time, bathing suits, wet towels and flip flops is coming to an end. A summer of firsts: a new puppy, a mission trip, European vacation, and blonde highlights. There were arguments and fights, and more tears than I can count, but there was also hugs and dancing and laughing and love.
Looking at this photo, I want to memorize it, savor it, breathe it. We are all happy for this one moment. The four of us. I will look back on it one day in the near future and think, yes, that is our family, and how very fast this time went by. I won’t remember how the girls were arguing thirty minutes before it was taken. Or that I was rushing to iron my dress and didn’t leave time to find my favorite sandals, so had to wear flip flops. I won’t remember that my husband and I were trying to find a night to celebrate our upcoming anniversary or feeling emotional and worried about his mom or how I was already stressing about the week ahead juggling work, swim pickup, parent meetings and dance registration. Oh and a puppy with a cold.
I recently read a quote by the Dali Lama which says, “Happiness is a not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”
I love this. I have been doing this “happiness is a state of mind” thing my whole life, and probably didn’t even realize I was doing it. It’s something my family is so used to hearing me say, “look at the glass half full,” or “if you don’t like something, change it” or “make your own happiness”. There was a time when I let others question my optimism, as if it was not authentic. As if I could not really be this happy. I used to be upset by this, but I think I understand it better. Sometimes going through something big, like death or failure or a child’s illness is monumental. It takes so much energy it’s hard to find anything to be happy about. I’ve been there.
Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project”, was a year-long experiment into discovering the true meaning of happiness and how to obtain it. It uses science and data and tips on how to truly find one happiness. In the end, happiness is what you make of it. It’s different for everyone.
What I know is this: happiness is a state of mind. For me, it’s an emotion I love. I LIKE being happy. I am definitely not happy all the time, who is? There is sadness, and pain and loss. I know this and I own this part of me, too. But most of the time, I would rather be happy. Whether it is to bring a smile to my mother’s face, or a hug from my daughters, or sharing a story with a stranger in line at the grocery store. I know that happiness can be shared. That by being kind, lending a hand, a shoulder or even a simple smile, how much it can impact someone and make them believe in themselves.
To me, the best way for me to be happy is by helping my family be happy. It is something I can give them. Among all the sadness, and craziness in the world, there is something special about laughing, and remembering the good in the world which helps.
When life is messy and crazy and way overscheduled, I choose happiness. Whatever that means.
I know one day, I will look back on this photo and think, wow, how long ago this was? We are smiling and they are leaning in towards each other. And how fast they grew up. I’ll be selfish and wish time stood still. I won’t remember the arguing, the ironing or the flip flops. I’ll remember the summer. The bathing suits. The smiles, the laughter and the puppy.