by Dana Taylor
Thomas Jefferson wrote The Declaration of Independence so people of the New World could enjoy “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” As a school girl I took that to heart. “The pursuit of Happiness” defined the American way of life. When I married, I assumed my husband and I would live “happily ever after.” Besides Thomas Jefferson, there were all those Disney movies to back up my point of view. As a wife and mother, I strove to make everybody happy. Treats for dinner, fun outings, birthday parties, effusive holidays. Is everybody happy?
It was nearly thirty-five years later when my husband and I were having a frank discussion about the history of our relationship that he said something shocking.
“You’re always talking about being happy,” he said, like there was something wrong with that. And it dawned on me, that the “pursuit of Happiness” was never on his agenda.
In truth, “being happy” probably made him feel guilty. He came from a mindset of sacrifice and denial being much more worthy goals than happiness. So, we were always at cross purposes. As a legal warrior fighting for the downtrodden and abused in the courtroom, he was intense and fierce. “Happy,” not so much.
Nowadays, everyone seems angry. Exposing lies, injustice, shouting profanities. Facebook began as a place to share family photos and has turned into everyone’s bully pulpit. Everyone supports their causes and candidates. And, admittedly, so do I.
Outrage seems to be the order of the day. Pick your cause and scream about it. More guns, fewer guns, more vaccines, no vaccines, build the wall, Dump Trump and on and on it goes. A cacophony of confusion. Everywhere I turn people are creating their own dramas. They’re living large on Facebook, SnapChat, and Instagram. Whether they are enjoying those activities or have merely been sucked into a seductive, addictive online culture is up to debate.
At any rate, I’ve decided the Pursuit of Happiness can be one of my causes. I can’t save the world. I find Outrage frustrating and exhausting. I’m not a marcher. I admire people who get out and wave their signs. But, I am not one of them. While the angst of the social media may lay guilt on me for my chosen path, I’m saying yes to Happiness.
Somebody should be noticing the butterflies and cute babies. I’ll boldly take joy in shiny bugs, red crested cardinals, crashing waves, and songs by Frank Sinatra. What’s more, I may even sit under a tree and leave my cell phone at home. Can you imagine? Quietly sitting and just being, not doing anything. Radical.
As the saying goes, “Happiness is a choice.” It doesn’t seem to be very popular nowadays. But maybe I’ll start a trend. And after that, who knows? “Kindness” could also catch on.
Wishing you a Happy Day ~