I’ve been thinking a lot about those six little words lately. And what I have to say this week isn’t going to be popular and is probably nothing more than me indulging a pet peeve I’ve had as of late. But I think the great thing about a blog is that I get to have a place for my random thoughts … and yes – even my pet peeves that no one else may agree with. So here follows the five things I think is wrong with those six words “I just want to be happy”.
(1) First is the word “just”. The word “just” drives me around the bend and back. I think it should be stricken from the English language … at least stricken from being used in this way. I don’t want to be “just” anything. The word minimizes all else that comes after it. I hear it ALL the time when conversing with women, especially in context of motherhood. “I’m just a Mom”. I used to say it all the time when I stayed at home with the kids. Let’s drop the just already! And don’t say “I JUST want to be happy” If you want to be happy shout it from the rooftops! I WANT TO BE HAPPY! And if you aren’t a fan of rooftops please please please at least don’t crawl under a chair and say it. Because when you add the word ‘just’ that is exactly what you are doing. You are minimizing what you want. You don’t need to “justify” wanting to be happy. You really don’t.
(2) Second, to me when I hear those six little words what I really hear is someone apologizing for the fact that they want to be happy. Enough with the apologizing. Let’s ‘own’ our words. Let’s say what we mean and let’s do it with passion and purpose. Period. If you want to be happy try this on for size … how about “I’m going to create a life that makes me happy.” There’s certainly no apologizing or justifying in that phrase. In fact to me it sounds like someone who knows what they want and is going to do everything in their power to make it happen. I know it seems small … but sometimes the words we say and the way we say them mean a lot.
(3) Thirdly, the sentence –at least used in the context of a goal – “I just want to be happy” sets one up for failure. Happiness is an emotion. It is not a state of being or a consciousness. Emotions ebb and flow – they are not constant, and nor should we expect them to be. Life – even a great life – is not going to always be happy. It’s ludicrous to believe that. Our life goals should be grand and encompassing and something to work towards – yes! But even if they are far reaching they should still be attainable. I personally do not believe a constant state of happiness is realistic or attainable. And although I believe the best lessons come from failure, setting yourself up for failure is a whole different ball game.
(4) Fourthly, a number of years ago I learned a little trick when it came to consciously thinking about what I “want” out of life. I started ‘needing’ this little gem of a trick when I became a mother. I started ‘practicing’ it when my kiddos started getting out of those toddler years. And I have since ‘conditioned’ myself so well to it – and have begun to value myself enough now – that I find I no longer need to use it.
In relation to the sentence “I just want to be happy” it has to do with the words “I want”.
As women and as mothers we don’t give enough time and conscious thought to what it is we actually want for ourselves and from our lives. BUT when it comes time to answer that same question for our children we all of a sudden have endless answers for what we want for them and their lives. What they deserve and what we want for their futures.
So finally I started thinking about myself and my wants and my needs in the same context. As mothers most of us have an innate tendency to put our own needs on the back burner. “I just want to be happy” is a perfect example. Or “I don’t need anything – I’m happy. I’m happy taking care of the kids and raising them in the world and putting in my hours at work and coming home to clean and and and and …”.
So the next time you ask yourself “what do I want?”, if you are a parent, think about how much you want for your children – and then start applying it to yourself. I’m pretty sure you want more for them than to “Just be happy”. So if you want more for them … remember to want more for yourself too. “I just want to be happy” may “just” not be enough.
Which leads me to my final issue with this sentence …. and it’s a big one … one which many people will disagree with me about.
(5) At what point did being happy become overrated? Because that’s what the concept is to me … over-rated. I just want to be happy. Really? That’s our goal in life? To be happy? I know the current “in” concept is supposed to be “keep it simple – happiness is key” but come on – we must all aspire to be more than just happy don’t we?
It seems we all walk around in life giving lip service to this all encompassing idea of being happy. And I guess if that satisfies your needs then that’s great. To each their own. But it doesn’t me.
If we are being honest I personally want sooo much MORE for myself than happiness. Happiness is but one emotion. One singular, somewhat mediocre, emotion, in such an array of emotions that I wish to experience and characteristics I want to aspire to.
What has happened to the English language? At what point did we succumb to being content with being so in descript. Happy? That’s the best we can do? If my goal in life is to be happy I am going to be very disappointed because I would be missing out on all of the other amazing feelings and characteristics that don’t always accompany happiness.
What about wanting to be Blissful, Peaceful, Passionate, Curious, Strong, Gregarious, Courageous, Contented, Bold, Purposeful, Hilarious, Thoughtful, Adventurous, Spirited, Loved?
Frankly, you can keep your happy.
Instead THESE are the adjectives, emotions and qualities I want to build my life around. THESE are the words I want to keep in the forefront of my mind when living my life – when setting my goals, when making my decisions about how I will spend my time. THESE are the rich, full, dimensional words I want to work towards. It may take me awhile to get there. Happy is an easy fall back – but I’m working on it … because I deserve, I want, and I aspire, for more from this life.
So I’ll ‘see’ your happy … and ‘raise’ you … a hell of a lot more.