How to be Outrageously Happy

My five year old made another funny comment that you will appreciate.  We were driving home from school on Friday and he said to me: “Daddy, is that an obstacle course?”  I looked out in the direction of his gaze and to my delight saw of all things, a cemetery.  I held back my chuckle as the irony of his comment hit me like a slab of marble. 

As my son was waiting for my reply in the seconds that followed I wondered to myself how many people on a daily basis take steps to avoid or delay ending up a permanent resident of that obstacle course. Longevity, now made possible through the marvels of sanitation and science, is regularly on most people’s minds.  I also thought about the fact that you jump one hurdle after another and eventually end up buried beneath a hurdle of sorts in the end.  A funny thought made possible by my five year old’s question.

I was about to answer my son when we both heard an ambulance coming our way from the opposite direction.  I pulled over to the side to make room for the ambulance, which was rushing to no doubt to save a life. No one else pulled over.  Strange.  I thought about it a bit and made the observation that in the northern, central and western states most people pull over to make room for an ambulance.  In the South, however, it seems that the majority of people prefer to pull over for funerals and the minority for ambulances.  Ironic.  There is a right reverence for those who have passed away, but they’re not in a hurry to get anywhere, no matter how you look at it!

Back to life… My family attended the commencement ceremonies for Brenau Academy yesterday and the Valedictorian made an interesting comment in her concluding remarks.  She was explaining the importance of enjoying life and of not getting caught up in the race. She said that it wasn’t worth taking life too seriously because in the end “nobody gets out alive.”  A funny comment and one that a good many overly-serious people could likely take a dose of every now and again.

Sally Davidson Foster, an alumnus of Brenau Academy who attended in the mid-1950s, made mention of a Peanuts comic she had read some time ago.  Charlie Brown was chatting with Linus about the future.  It went something like this:

Charlie Brown: “Do you ever think about the future, Linus?”

Linus: “Oh yes…all the time.”

Charlie Brown: “What do you think you’d like to be when you grow up?”

Linus: “Outrageously happy!”

Happiness is not a natural by-product of wealth, nor does it spring from fame, titles or tenure.  Happiness is only available as you engage with your world, actively enjoying it, no matter how limiting or expansive the circumstances at hand may be. Mrs. Davidson Foster advised the graduating seniors to get to know who they are, rather than wasting too much time dwelling on what they would like to achieve in the future.

Happiness comes as you are comfortable in your own skin. How do you find that comfort?  Sometimes it is simpler to say what not to do than it is to elaborate on what you should do.  Don’t be obsessed with yourself, with your feelings, with how the world is viewing you, instead, obsess (if you insist on obsessing) about giving to others.

I eventually explained to my son that he had seen a cemetary an not an obstacle course. No doubt you can imagine the questions that followed. Oh, to be 5 again!

Have a wonderful Sunday.

7 thoughts on “How to be Outrageously Happy

  1. Dear Gregg:

    Thanks for the kind words about our Commencement. I am the Headmaster/Dean at Brenau Academy, and it’s always gratifying to learn that someone has come away from a ceremony such as that with something “memorable.”

    Sincerely,
    Tim Daniel

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  2. Colin

    As I reading this, I was contemplating whether or not I was truly happy. Happily, the answer I found was that I most certainly was. To sum up my thoughts, I think as long as you don’t take the little things too seriously, and at the same time take the things that do matter very seriously, that you can truly find happiness no matter who you are. In other words, “Don’t sweat the petty stuff, and don’t pet the sweaty stuff!” Also, remember that there is always something to appreciate! Thanks for the great post!

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  3. Estelle

    Wonderful observations by both a 5 year old and his father!

    Recently my 4 year old grandson and I were taking a stroll when he became fascinated by a neighbor digging a hole to plant a new tree. We continued on our walk before the neighbor put the new tree in, but on our way back the tree had been planted. My grandson must have thought my neighbor was going to plant a seed in the hole, and he expressed his amazement and excitement when he saw the tree and started exclaiming that the tree had grown already. He was thoroughly enthralled that the magic of life had taken place so vigorously in that small amount of time. My neighbor chuckled, smiled up into the sunlight and sighed happily, “Oh to be that young again!”

    There is something so wonderful about a child’s heart – it’s aperture for joy and wonder for the magic of life is inclined to be open to the fullest isn’t it? Thank you for the inspiration and the reminder to that our own apertures can be set open to “outrageously happy”!

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  4. Reina

    When we strive so hard to succeed that we disengage from living,loving and laughing, the fruits of our labor become rotten. I think it was a wonderful gift that was offered to those young ladies, to seek to give in all ways and in that they will not only succeed but find themselves and happiness in the process. Thanks so much for the constant reminders about what is truely important.

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  5. Brenda Ruppright

    All too often our happiness is placed on what others think, what others say about you and you know I am seeing that this is so much less important than ever. If we do not believe in ourselves, believe in what we are doing with our lives, no one else’s opinion is ever going to mean anything. As long as we are happy giving fully in whatever it is we are doing, life is fun.

    I want to share something I do almost every time I go to the grocery store. Either when I go in or when I come out I offer to take someone’s cart for them as they are at their car putting away their groceries. I figure I need a cart anyway or I am on my way walking past a cart carousel to my car, I might as well be helpful. You would be amazed at the responses you get; almost always surprise that someone is offering assistance that does not have a store logo on their shirt, but mostly it is appreciation. This small gesture actually makes me feel better than it does the person I am doing it for; it just brightens the day in a way that is hard to explain.

    Give in whatever way you can, it always brings a smile!

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