I don't remember what we were purchasing, but as we stood in line, I glanced over to see a rack of tshirts with sayings on them.
On one of them blazed the saying, "DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY!"
I guess my head has been in the clouds or something, because I hadn't heard this version of extreme selfishness in so simplistic of terms.
I googled "do what makes you happy quotes" and wow.
There are a lot of them.
"If it makes you happy, do it. If it doesn't, then don't."
"Do what makes you happy and don't care what others think."
"Do what you love and tomorrow will pay the bills."
"You can't make everyone happy, so instead of trying to please everyone else, why don't you do something for yourself?"
"Do what makes you happy, and be with who makes you smile"
Now, before I continue, let me preface. I understand the original intent many are trying to make. Don't live your life trying to live up to other people's standards. I teach my kids that, to a point. Someone makes fun of your hair? That's their own problem. If you love it, then don't worry about pleasing them.
But, perhaps we've distorted the original intent of this phrase?
I've noticed it EVERYWHERE lately. Actually, it's been around since Eve ate that dad-gum apple because that stupid snake told her it would make HER happy.
Do you think that maybe, just maybe, we might actually find more joy if we care MORE about how to spread joy and happiness to OTHERS?
I gotta be honest. I look at those phrases above and this is what I see.
A 13-year-old refusing to do chores because it doesn't make her happy. (after all... her shirts says not to do it! And Mom bought it for her so it MUST be true, right?!?)
The 21-year-old guy who sleeps with a different girl every weekend because dude, it makes him happy, who cares about what others think, right?
A 30-year-old woman who doesn't have two pennies to rub together because her love of designer shoes just doesn't turn into a paycheck. But... tomorrow will pay the bills. Today... drink and be merry and wear cute shoes!
The parent who gets tired of their unappreciative children and spouse, so leaves them to pursue their dream of acting/singing/dancing, sending only the occassional postcard and birthday present from LA. What matters is that they are doing what THEY want, because they can't please everyone.
The 40-year-old man who looks at his wife (who has exchanged her love of miniskirts and push-up bras with a fetish for comfy sweatpants and 48-hours because THAT'S what makes HER happy) and decides that the 20-year-old receptionist at the office would make him MUCH happier...
While I know the pictures I've created are extremes... they are actually not far from reality lately it seems. There are so many other examples that, frankly, even I am guilty of at times.
***NOTE*** I have always been a believer in taking care of ones self and following ones dreams. I still am. I believe we can care for others best when our own basic needs as a wife/mother/dad/husband/human-being are met. And I also believe God gives us talents and dreams and aspirations for a reason. But none of that equates to putting our own happiness above others.
As my heart is saddened by all this... I finally see a quote I LOVE. One I would proudly display on a tshirt.
"Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It just means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections."
We try to chase this illusive idea that what we want will make us happy. The heck with what everyone else thinks.
But in truth, happiness is a choice we make each and every day. It's a perspective, a lens with which to view things through.
Or... maybe it's not about happiness at all. But about joy and learning to be content. Hmmmmmmm.....
And furthermore, maybe, just maybe, if we focused a little more on bringing smiles to other people's faces, we'd find it a little easier to display those smiles ourselves.
So, here's to hoping that we can all embrace the Christmas spirit this season. That we can grasp the idea that it's not about getting happiness, but giving it.
After all... God himself showed us the ultimate example of this.... some 2000+ years ago.
Discussion: Do you have any Christmas "giving" traditions that help you embrace the true Christmas spirit? I'd love to hear what your family does!