My 5 Year Old Taught Me How to Be Happy: The Power of Authenticity and Contentment
This afternoon, three of my kids were in our family room, wavering between coloring, watching re-runs of Full House, and deciding what to do with their afternoon. Noticing my youngest son was absent, I peeked out the window- fairly certain I’d see him. Sure enough, there he was – riding his bicycle up and down the hill – doing his own thing.
I got to thinking about my son, and just how much we can learn from him.
Harry doesn’t draw a picture or build something out of LEGO bricks with a “Good job buddy!” in mind. He’s not creating or building for approval. When Harry rides his bike or goes outside to dig in the dirt, he’s not looking for acceptance from his siblings or peers. He isn’t hoping to “fit in” or seem cool.
He is the opposite of how so many of us operate.
How often do we hold off on making decisions because we aren’t sure how they will be perceived of by others? Do we choose our activities based on what other people might think of us? From what we wear, to what we bring to a park playdate, to how we parent our children – what choices have we made for the wrong reasons?
Are we seeking acceptance, praise, and approval – or are we doing what makes us happy? Are we comfortable being who we are or do we need the “atta boys” and “great job!” Do we pick and choose our way through life just hoping the “right” people will notice us or that we’ll get the acceptance we’re after?
He’s never been one to worry about what anyone else is doing. Harry has learned two things that allow him to maintain joy regardless of those around him.
- He is comfortable with who he is.
- He is content.
If we could learn how to grab hold of these two truths, not only would we be able to live in a more authentic community, but we could lead more joyful, wholehearted lives. We will never find joy or happiness chasing down approval and acceptance. When we hustle for our worthiness, constantly trying to please and appease, we are never being our true selves. You’ve got to become okay with who you are. Full stop.
Who YOU are – not who the mom down the street is or the woman at the pick-up line you’re envious of. Life isn’t about conforming or trading in authenticity for acceptance. We have to become okay with being who we are. Be okay being the only cloth-diapering, homeschooling, bottle-feeding, only-friend-in-your-circle-who-doesn’t-love-yoga, fill in the blank with your issue woman! Embrace your quirks, passions, and interests and stop worrying about what other people think of them! The people who count are going to like you for YOU! And guess what? You’ll like yourself better too – and live a happier life!
Secondly, (and this is the one that can sometimes be life-altering) – learn to be CONTENT. Whatever the situation, let it be enough. Stop waiting for the “next” to be happy. Don’t let your life be a giant “if –> then” statement. Be okay with the right now.
When everyone else is worrying about pleasing, appeasing, and fitting in – just “hop on your bike” or “dump out your LEGO bin” so to speak. Do what makes you happy. Be who you are. Be okay with what you have. Be okay being you. You’re enough. Go be happy.