Happiness isn’t enough
I read a comment from a newly married celebrity this weekend about how he and his spouse didn’t argue because they have the same goal–making each other happy. And I thought to myself, well, that doesn’t bode well.
It sounds nice, right? Two people who only want to make each other happy? But what if going out and drinking too much every night makes you happy? What if quitting your job and watching TV all day makes you happy? Shoot, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. What if quitting your lucrative day job to focus on writing full-time makes you happy? (While also, say, putting your mortgage in jeopardy?)
Just about anything taken to extremes can be bad. So if your focus is on making your spouse happy without encouraging him or her to be better, I think you’re headed down the road to destruction.
My husband likes to see my happy. But when I start talking about registering for the third expensive and time-consuming writers’ conference of the year, he’s going to challenge me to prove its value. When I see him thinking about skipping exercise to sleep in, I’m going to challenge him to keep up his healthy lifestyle.
I’m afraid, as a country, we’ve made happiness a sort of God. At the very least, we think being happy is our right. So on this Fourth of July week, I think it’s worth revisiting the Declaration of Independence which says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
That’s pursuit of–not the actual happiness itself. We have no right to happiness. And when we focus on being happy or making someone we love happy, I think we do a them and ourselves a disservice. Let’s stop trying to be happy and start trying to be better.