How would you reply if your child asked you, “Are you
happy?” One parent said he was not able to answer the
question. He knew that he was committed to the idea of
achieving personal dignity by acquiring material success and that
he was determined to be the consummate provider. He was more
than successful in achieving these goals. As he put it, “I’ve
experienced two midlife Porsches.” He could not answer his
child’s question, however, because he felt it was unanswerable.
The responsibility of parenthood has become very complicated. Parents want and love their children but also feel that they have a commitment to their careers. They feel guilty no matter what their choice. If they go to work and put their baby in a good day care placement, they feel tremendous guilt and loss if they are not present when the baby says his first word or takes his first step. If they stay home,
they feel they are missing out on the power and excitement
generated by their jobs. It is a no win situation.
Some men solve the problem by not making a commitment and remaining bachelors. There is even a name for this phenomena. It is called the Peter Pan Syndrome. Even this name has negative connotations. Such men are characterized as being interested only in career, profession, and materialism.
No wonder young people are under such stress. The fun is taken out of life because people feel forced to make seemingly irrevocable choices. One researcher even said that people do not use their free time well. They fritter it away or are too rushed to enjoy it . Young, upwardly mobile professionals ask themselves “Am I doing this right? Am I enjoying myself?”
One of the problems seems to be that people seek happiness as if it were something that is lost and can be found. Happiness is a state of being and comes in many shapes and sizes in many different life styles and conditions of life. It is not something that is earned or denied. There is one saying: Life is what happens while you are planning ahead. The same can be said of happiness: Happiness is what you feel as you are making your life’s choices. Decisions are made based on peoples’s best knowledge and understandings at a particular time. While mistakes may be made, it does not mean that people have failed or should feel guilty or feel they can never change. Life should be more joyful than that.
It is time to bring some humor back to our lives. We seem to be losing our sense of fun in our search for happiness and the good life. When was the last time your family had a good laugh or found something uproariously funny? Humor and laughter are therapeutic. There does not seem to be enough of it around. We cannot find it in the movies or TV. I encourage you to actively stimulate it and to nourish it in your family and in your life. Be good to yourself. Enjoy every day.