Happiness is not a goal


Recently I watched a really interesting TED talk by Jennifer Senior.

She said a lot of smart, insightful things, that I’m still mulling around in my mind…but one point in particular I wanted to share.

She noticed how often we make our children’s happiness the goal.

What parent hasn’t said or thought, “I just want my kids to be happy?”

And though we want them to be many other things as well, there’s a special pang that happens when our kids aren’t happy…which can set us up for making choices based on trying to make happiness the ultimate measuring stick.

It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by Thoreau, “Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder…”

When we go through the process of clarifying our purpose, our priorities, our paths of service, and our prosperity….when you get the order right…happiness, contentment, joy, zest, passion, and fun return almost effortlessly.

Happiness is not a goal. Happiness is the natural response to a well-ordered life.

It’s better to ask the question – when in your life do you feel most happy?

For me, it is often when I feel I am being used in some good and powerful way, beyond myself- which always is connected to feeling like I am in service of love.

  • I feel happiest when I get to contribute in ways that naturally light me up– when I tap into my natural talents and put them to good work.
  • I feel happiest when I’m deeply connected with those I love in the world.
  • I feel happiest when I’m being creative and giving space for creative expression in my life.

Wow. Contribution, Connection, Creativity.

What if those were core goals that I set for myself?

What if those were core goals that I parented around?

What if I asked myself–

  • How can I help my kids contribute to the world using their natural gifts?
  • How can I help them foster deeper connections to people in their life? To themselves, to God, to their family, to their friends, to their community, to the world?
  • How can I give them space and opportunities to express their creativity?

That is a vision that gets me really excited about my role as a mother. And it gets me really excited about my role as a woman, too. Because I want to keep growing in vital ways as much as I want my kids to grow in them, too.

Sending much love,