There was a long time that I was unhappy.
Really, instead of just being happy all through my early twenties, I was trying to figure out what would make me happy. After years of continued exploration, I have realized that there are plenty of ways to be happy (duh…right?). From the simplest of pleasures, to the most complex love I feel for my wife and everything in between. Happiness can be found everywhere.
What’s my secret? Perspective. Not the way to say “It could be worse” but rather just looking at life from a different view point. Instead of looking from the top of a mountain, I find it important to get close to the ground.
If you want to be a good parent, kids force you into looking at life through their lenses. And while you don’t need kids to gain perspective, it has helped me. I know plenty of people who seem to be truly happy and have no kids. You don’t need kids to be happy, you don’t need them to find perspective. I did though.
When I was thrown into parenthood there was a remarkable change I felt in the air around me. All of my normal “stresses” felt trivial. When Jude was born there was a very literal changing of how I saw the world. And no, none of my stresses went away. And yes, there were plenty of new stresses. But how I dealt (and still deal) with them was very different. The best way I can explain it is that I took a breath, I slowed down. What I needed to do to be happy came into complete focus.
Life through the eyes of a toddler is truly amazing. If nothing else, they just want you to experience the world with them. They want to discover everything around them and they want you to discover it too. Exploration is a blast, but its way more fun when you have a friend to do it with. Taking the time to re-discover the world with them lends to myself finding out things I never took the time to truly appreciate. You know what’s awesome? Snow is awesome. On the last huge storm we had this year I was shoveling through waist deep snow so that I could attempt to get to work. While I was stressed out and worried, Jude and Margot ran through the snow and explored. They had never seen anything like it. The snow was almost as tall as they were. So I took a breath and watched them. They picked up the snow and kicked it and pushed it into their faces to see what would happen. And then, after giving up my pipe dream of getting to work, I ran full on into the snow with them.
Often, we’re forced to slow down because a kid that’s less then 3 feet tall only moves so fast. If you’re expecting your kid to move as fast as you, then you’re going to find yourself without a kid by your side. No matter how many times we tell them to ready, get their boots on, get their coats on, they will never be ready at the same time we are. And we can’t expect them to be. When walking through a store I can feel Margot dragging my hand behind me as she kicks at stuff on a shelf. I don’t know why she kicks at stuff. My best guess is that she’s just trying to see what will happen when her ridiculously short leg hits it. Most of the time we tell her to stop kicking. Sometimes though, sometimes we don’t. In that moment, she’s thinking “What will happen when I kick a box of granola bars?”. We all know what will happen, or most of us think we do at least. But honestly, I’m curious. So I let her kick them. And when the next person buys a box of half broken granola bars…they can thank me. Sorry, we were experimenting.
Slow down and look. Observe what your kids observe. There’s so much more going on in their brains then we sometimes give them credit for. Slow down and see what they see. Take time to enjoy their perspective. Who knows, it might make us happier.
What makes you happy? What makes you sad? Tell me in the comments below or send a line in the contact form.