There are entire books and lecture circuits and movies and self help books and all kinds of things geared towards happiness. Hell, people will spend thousands of dollars a year in therapy to be able to determine where their happiness has gone. Or so I’ve heard… As adults, things because so complicated and muddled and overwhelming and exhausting and we wake up one day and think, I’m not happy. Or, when was the last time I smiled? Or laughed? We get bogged down in the day to day, trying to get from bed to the bus to the office to the day care to the dinner table to putting the kids to bed to maybe getting an hour of peace before you dive into bed for a restless sleep, only to do it all again tomorrow. It happens to us all. And while our days may not go exactly like that, there are variations of that day in all of our lives that leave us desperate to find a glimpse of something that makes us happy.
Paul puts Courtney to bed every night. He has since she was born. They have quite the routine that they go through. There are the teeth and the potty and the bath and the books and the little chat and then hopefully, some sleep. But every night Paul puts Courtney in bed and tells her to close her eyes and dream happy thoughts. And she does. You can see her little eyes squeezing shut as she thinks of happy things. I don’t know what a 2 year old thinks about, but she’s so happy. What I love about this little ritual is that she carries this into her every day life. In the morning I ask her how she slept and she said she closed her eyes and dreamt happy thoughts. Over breakfast this morning, the oatmeal was happy as were the water and the milk and the Pooh plate and the straw. Courtney then threw open her arms as wide as they would stretch and announced, “COURTNEY’S HAPPY!!” And moving on to Patrick’s happy and Daddy’s happy and Hunter’s happy and Mommy’s happy and so on. When was the last time you thought to yourself, “I’M HAPPY” while throwing open your arms and smiling a smile that encompasses your entire face? Yeah, I don’t know either.
I’m not delusional into thinking that life is so simple to just say you’re happy and so be it. But sometimes there is so much we can learn from the simplicity of a child that, even if just for a few minutes, makes it so.