I recently discovered the key to true happiness. I’m certain […]
I recently discovered the key to true happiness. I’m certain of it because I was truly happy this past weekend. I experienced moments of indescribable bliss that no smile or song can adequately convey. This happiness did not come from winning the lottery or partying all weekend or even from binge-watching “The Walking Dead” on Netflix.
My moment of true happiness started on a sunny Saturday morning. I picked up a book that I had become very fond of recently and walked out our back door to go read in the morning sunshine. I strolled up the grassy hill in our backyard, laid down on my back and propped the book up on my knee. The temperature was perfect. The birds were singing. The smell of living earth embraced me, and I lost myself in my book. That was a good moment, but it was not my happy moment. It was only the setup.
A few minutes later, all my kids burst out of the back door and came running across the lawn right for me. The oldest two ran right past me to go find their favorite patch of clover to lie in. The twin toddlers tackled me over and over again. We tumbled down the hill together and giggled the whole way down. Finally, my wife (wearing our little guy in the front pack) stepped out of the back door and crossed the yard in her graceful gait. She took her stand a few feet from where the twins and I were frolicking, and she smiled at us from behind her sunglasses.
I freed myself from the tag team toddlers for a moment to stand up and meet the gaze of beautiful wife. We smiled at each other and then the moment happened. I looked over at the twins who were now laughing hysterically as they wrestled one another, and then at the older kids who were basking in the sun upon their bed of clover. The cobalt sky. The deep green of the grass. The warm sun on my skin. The buds on the trees, growing before our eyes. It was all too beautiful to take in. I felt I was about to explode from the sheer intensity of the delight in that moment.
Then my eldest put words to the unspoken cry of my heart. “Thank you, God, for making this day,” she yelled out at the top of her lungs. With that expression, the moment turned into a truly happy moment. We had all the right ingredients for a great moment: Nature’s beauty, laughter and family close at hand. But true happiness came from gratitude.
As parents of newborns, we sometimes forget to be thankful during the 3 a.m. diaper changes. This forgetfulness is the surest path to despair and burnout in child rearing. Even the darkest clouds have silver linings, and we would do well to be thankful for that. Even when colic has the baby going on her second hour of non-stop screaming, we can be thankful that she still draws breath.
Happiness cannot be obtained merely in the having of good things. One must be truly thankful for the goodness in order to fully experience happiness. Children are the best of all good things. If we are not thankful for them, then we rob ourselves of the joy they bring.