America is one of the few countries in world history to actually include the concept of “the pursuit of happiness” in an establishing document -- in the Declaration of Independence.
Of course, we understand that happiness isn’t guaranteed, but we are free to pursue it, whatever it means to us. For me, it isn’t about having material things like the latest mobile phone or designer clothes. Face it, those things get old fast.
For me, you need three basic things to live a happy life:
- Someone to love
- Something to do
- Something to look forward to
I think that’s what it all boils down to in the end.
Number one gives you a base; someone to hold you accountable without them even knowing they are doing it. It doesn’t have to be a spouse (it’s great when it is), but it could be a child or grandchild, etc.
Someone to love is that person you care more about than yourself.
Number two not only keeps you occupied but, even better, it gives you a purpose. No matter what you do, do it to the best of your ability. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”
Something to do is what gets you up in the morning and, if you’re lucky—like me—it’s something you have a great passion for, too.
Number three is a change from the routine that gives us something to work toward. While we should never forget that “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans,” it’s still nice to have a little treat on the horizon. It might be a birthday—it might be a loved one’s birthday. It could be Christmas or vacation or going out to dinner.
Something to look forward to gives us a goal and lets us know that while there are a lot of “have to do” things in the world, the “get to do” things make the “have to do” things even more worthwhile.
And when we’re really lucky, we have something to look forward to and something to do with someone we love.
That’s always a good day.
Christine Browning, R.N.