In Search of Happy

“Enlightenment is when a wave realizes it is the ocean.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

All these Facebook and Pinterest posts talk about minimalism and positivity and enlightenment. The pursuit of “happy.”

There are apps and journals and books about it.

Get rid of this and add that. Appreciate more and complain less. Start your day with meditation and stretching and you will magically be a different person.

Well, maybe I could learn a lesson from them all. But if you want to know the truth? I’m not on a search for “happy,” and I don’t need enlightenment.

I need a latte.

Maybe several lattes. I need the kind of coffee that knocks on the door at two a.m., makes my German Shepherds tear down the stairs in a hysteric fit, and sets off the smoke alarms.

Latte? Yes. Enlightenment? Nah. I’ll pass.

I don’t need a quote on positivity or a funny teacher meme about the last week of school. What I need is some magical fairy to float in the doorway of classroom C-9 and declare name calling a heinous crime punishable with the task of cleaning out the black lunch box bin that somehow collects crumbs, flat footballs, warm ice packs, and mystery sticky substances.

What I need more than a cute coffee cup that says, “Best Teacher” is some transcendent offer on our house that includes a trip to the Bahamas for the mental clarity that I’ve lost in the house selling and buying process.

But the reality is, even these things are not the pot of gold in the search for happy.

Everyone these days thinks that there is something more. More self-satisfaction at work, more meaning to our existence, and more enlightenment that will bring us to some kind of calm, meditative state. More happiness.

Meanwhile, I’m over here thinking, “All I really want is a ginormous latte, a chocolate croissant, and a house closing date that means hubby and I won’t be living in our camper with two kids, two dogs, and a temperamental cat for more than a month.

Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe there is suppose to be more to life than what I see, but when you are living in survival mode and counting down the days until you can turn off your five a.m. alarm clock, well, I’ll take what I can get.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe that there IS more meaning to life than the daily grind, but I also believe that, as humans, we sometimes miss the bigger picture without even realizing it.

Maybe the bigger picture is that despite the name calling and the pushing and the shoving and the daily routine of the classroom, I have impacted students in ways I don’t yet realize.

Maybe all of the lectures and disappointed looks, and head shakes and ‘What were you thinking?’s made a difference. Maybe I WAS enlightenment all these 20 years of teaching.

Maybe the bigger picture is that even though I’m stressed out and a mess, my children are seeing what it means to persevere through something hard.

Maybe the calm, meditative state everyone is looking for is actually achieved in the moment you stop and listen to your son tell a joke, watch your daughter dance, and see the happy, smiling face of your once distraught teen.

Maybe the “happy” everyone is so frantically searching for is sitting right there on the couch beside you while you absentmindedly overlook him in your pursuit of enlightenment.

Maybe the bigger picture is that through these trials and tests, I’ve come to appreciate the things my husband does for our family and me more than I’ve ever realized.

Maybe the moment of enlightenment and minimalism are realizing that despite the forty some years you have collected “stuff,” none of it matters or holds value compared to your husband by your side.

Enlightenment is realizing that it isn’t about the stuff. It isn’t about the furniture or the things you’ve collected along the way. All of those things are just things.

Maybe the bigger picture isn’t the bigger picture at all. Maybe the enlightenment that so many are searching for is hidden right within their daily grind.

Perhaps it isn’t about minimizing clutter or seeking out positive quotes. If I’m getting real honest, it also probably isn’t about house closing dates and perfect moving situations. And as much as I hate to admit it, it isn’t about perfect students on the last week of school.

Call it what you want, but I don’t think it’s about enlightenment at all.

It’s about realization. It doesn’t sound so magical and transcendental when you call it that, but let’s be real. Enlightenment is a fancy word for realizing what you already knew you knew.

Realizing that the day-to-day grind IS life. It IS the happy that so many people think they need to seek out.

Realizing that stress is a reaction, not a punishment. Realizing that no matter how hard you try, you cannot predict the future, control decisions others make, or identify the mystery sticky substance in the bottom of the lunch box bin.

Maybe instead of searching for enlightenment and hunting for happiness, we should all just sit back and sip a latte.

A latte may not the secret to happiness, but it’s gotta be pretty darn close.

Be grateful, water your own grass,

…and drink coffee.

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