Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of Kurt Warner
One of the most recognizable phrases in the Declaration of Independence reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [wo]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”.
I love that it says it is our RIGHT to have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These are the pillars on which this great country has been built. The problem is that just because we have the Right, doesn’t mean we will ever obtain the levels of each for which we hope. In fact, I would argue most people I know, and probably most people in our country, would admit they are NOT living the life they have always envisioned. Most likely, they would say they have a level of happiness, but are in continual pursuit of more. Do you find this is true in your life?
For a long time I believed happiness was tied up in the achievement of a certain level of success, financial stability, or flexibility of schedule to truly focus on what is most important in life. But, as I have been blessed to experience each, I have realized true happiness lies in none of the above, nor any other obtainable marker in life. So if happiness doesn’t have a marker, than how can I effectively pursue it?
I am glad you asked! But, first let me say I am not an expert in anything, so my observations and thoughts simply come from personal experience. I am not ready to say this is the only way to happiness, but I will say it is the only way I have truly experienced it in my life. You ready?
HAPPINESS IS FOUND BY LIVING IN YOUR PASSIONS!
Take a second to truly think about that statement.
As I think back to the happiest moments in my life: getting married, having children, winning the Super Bowl, finding faith, etc… they all have one thing in common: They all center on the things in life I am most passionate about! It has brought me to the realization that the more we can fill our lives with those things the better opportunity we have for happiness.
Now, many of you may say that much of your life centers on things you are passionate about, maybe many of the same things I mentioned above, yet you still aren’t at the level of happiness you want. I know that feeling. I believe the key is to make sure more than one of your passions are being fulfilled in each particular season of life. For instance, I can be passionate about the game of football but if it is the only passion I am able to commit to on a daily basis, then I lose a portion of the happiness it provides because it can’t fulfill all of the pieces of my happiness pie, so to speak.
I am sure there are many of you out there who are stay-at-home moms. You would most certainly say your kids are your greatest passion, but spending 24/7 with them just doesn’t bring you the happiness you desire. There is nothing you would rather do than spend the day taking care of your kids, but even then you have other passions being neglected. My wife is in the same position. Sometimes she feels almost guilty for thinking her kids alone can’t bring her happiness. As much as I love my kids, I know the same is true for me. If I were not able to explore the other passions I have in life, I don’t believe I would ever find the happiness I am pursuing.
I watch my wife come alive when she is on a stage speaking. I watch how much joy comes from making time to be with her friends. I see how much she enjoys me when we are able to make time for the two of us and she is not surrounded by the pressures and responsibilities of being a mom!
Some women are passionate about being a stay-at-home mom. Some do it because they feel the responsibility. Some women are passionate about having a certain career. Others simply punch the clock because they feel it is what they must do. Too often in life people spend most of their time doing what they must do and neglecting those things that bring them the happiness they desire.
So, what exactly am I saying? Am I telling you to quit your job and start chasing another career? Am I telling you to stop being a stay-at-home mom if it doesn’t bring you happiness every moment of every day? Of course not! I am not here to tell you the life you are living cannot bring you the happiness you desire. I am simply saying if you haven’t found the happiness you desire, then sit down and make a list of your greatest passions – people, hobbies, careers, activities, etc… - and see how many of them are a part of your daily/weekly routine. If there are things on that list being neglected, then find ways to feed those passions in your life.
Set up a date night for more time with your husband. Take an online class in an area you love. Pick up a part-time job a couple days a week in a field you look forward to pursuing in the future. The list is limitless depending on what those passions are. But it’s up to you to search them out.
At the beginning of this column, we were looking at a phrase from the Declaration of Independence giving us the Right to ‘pursue happiness’, which to me means a continual search for what makes us happy. I believe that search begins and ends with finding what it is we are passionate about and pursuing those things with our lives. It’s ok if the process begins with small steps. The key isn’t trying to find the happiness we desire tomorrow; but simply ‘pursuing’ that happiness on a daily basis.
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