Do what makes you happy and others will find happiness too.

I was watching my children play yesterday on the play ground. Their hurried and excited screams reverberated back and forth competing for our attention. A simple “Watch me mum, watch mum, watch me dad…” I couldn’t help thinking why our 3 and 5 year olds were so desperate to have our eyes on their every move. I thought about the paradox of adults wanting the opposite.

Popular songs danced around my head like the Disney classic “Reflection sung by Christina Aguilera” and Beyonce singing “Pretty Hurts” or Evanescence “Everybody’s Fool.” Insecurity seems to pack a punch years later. The free spirited child screaming to be watched while traversing the monkey bars or barreling head first down the slide goes into hiding.

Society produces a complex demand on what we should be and how to get there. Success is a sexy image, fast cars, beautiful woman and lavishly built mansions while partying on the private yacht. This image produces not only unrealistic expections but misconceptions to what success is. A wealthy entrepreneur may have made everyone around him/her miserable on their way from rags to riches. The caregiver who lives on minimum wage but despite this loves what they do. We label the former successful and the later goes unnoticed.

Children teach us the evolution of success which is playing first because it is fun and they are happy when they go face first down the slide. When was the last time we equated having fun as success: period…? Society has placed making money as the greatest example of being successful. Consumerism has everything to do with this measuring stick. Unfortunately this formula has gotten us into trouble, as a species, as a planet.

So what about success being… (Have fun) (Be yourself)… Forget about how much money you make, it doesn’t matter… I can already hear (bullshit) the fucking bills have to get paid, and children don’t pay bills. I agree with you, and you, and all the rest, I promise. But for the sake of experiment we can learn what currency has robbed us of. Fun!!! Having Fun!!! We traded in our enjoyment for the competition of making money. At least thousands of years ago they did. You and I were born or plugged into this system.

My children help me reset the clock and stop and ask myself what are we doing versus what we can learn from them. Happiness is innately a part of every child and we as a society teach them how to be unhappy. Look around you… Look at the drawn faces, look at the heads hanging down and the stress and long lines from years of unhappiness. Every unhappy face was once a cooing smiling baby and we gradually taught them how to be unhappy.

By societies measuring stick I am wildly unsuccessful. I drive an old car, live in a sub-standard home, earn a salary just hovering above the poverty line, and have never had a million dollars in my bank account. In fact just this morning my wife yelled out “Our bank account is negative 69.00 dollars.” while I was taking out the rubbish adding insult to injury. To thousands of millionaires and billionaires this has all the appearances of a life in shambles.

But I query: I have a loving wife who works her ass off for our children, and me. Sacrifices hours and hours of her time doing laundry, dishes, preparing dinner, folding clothes, hanging clothes, changing nappies, bedtime stories, yoga classes, blogs, media posts, juggling a small business while being a mother and a wife. We are madly in love and equally madly fall out of love. We kiss and hug and want to kill each other; sometimes all in one week. Our 3 children under 5 are all healthy and we think they love us — we certainly love them; most of the time.

It’s painfully hard and other times it feels like a magnificent dream I magically woke up to. Live is difficult and the paradox lies in balancing those difficult times through the seemingly brief happier times. Success taught by our children is to have fun and be yourself and ask to be watched while doing what makes you happy.

It can be frightening being yourself and doing what makes you happy. The bills will get paid and sometimes they won’t… but you won’t die over it. If we brave the first step to following our happiness the untraveled path we will find ourselves on.

As Robert Frost ended his famous poem “The Road Not Taken.”

“And that has made all the difference.”

Do what makes you happy and others will find happiness too…

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