Skip to main content

The threshold of happiness

This is Baytown Bert in Baytown, Texas and this is Podcast 015

We are taught to believe that the future holds the key to our happiness.  The future is that elusive and beautiful butterfly that is always just out of reach.  We chase it, or not, but it is always flitting about, out there in the hemisphere, the sun reflecting the many colors of its wings in our face and we comfort ourselves with the simple fact that down the road – we will find happiness.

As little kids we have already grasped the idea that when we get into Middle School, things will be better, then it comes along and the bar is raised to the High School goal line.  Becoming a 13 year old teenager came and went and we found it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, because 14 seemed to be the real place we wanted.

The Holy Grail of teendom arrives! 16!  We know when we reach that amazing pinnacle of maturity; we will find freedom in the form of a driver’s license and a shiny new Mustang convertible that daddy buys.  That position on the football team or number one chair in orchestra is good for a season, but you know in your heart that until that big something comes, you just will not experience true happiness.

Your first real romance is magical and you honestly believe you couldn’t be happier – until your cruel life deals you a horrendous blow and you sink into depression and despair feeling that nothing good can bring you back.  Lost loved ones, sickness, bullies, arguments, and friends who turn on you seem to strip you of anything resembling happiness, yet here and there, a kind word, a song on the radio, or an unexpected gift cause your happiness flame to once again flicker.  There’s hope, yes, hope of that evasive entity – happiness.

The Mustang car never materialized and you find yourself working two side jobs to pay your way through community college.  You’ve had enough bad romances that you honestly believe Mr. or Ms. Right do not exist, but you keep trying; just like you do in your classes.  Where is this Utopia you always heard was in your path?  Is this all life has to give?  When can you find Nirvana?

Things begin to accelerate and one day turns into the next, with no real anchor to help you distinguish one day from the next.  You get your Associates degree and are immediately hired on at a place you feel will make you happy, but soon learn they expect you to get your Bachelor’s degree to stay on.  Now you are working 40 to 50 hours a week and attending night classes.  You have no time for romance and the demands of your job and school keep you so occupied, you feel you are unappealing, so why bother?

On the upside, you are steadily advancing in the workplace and getting satisfactory evaluations and you are 26 years old before the first inkling of true happiness enters your consciousness.  “Happiness is a state of mind, not a location.  Happiness is the fulfillment of duties, more than a trip to Six Flags”.  You sit at your desk at the end of the day and decide what will really make you happy at this very moment is knowing that you just turned in a project you can be proud of and in about 30 minutes, you are going to enjoy a delicious salad and maybe a glass of wine, or sweet tea with real sugar.

When you get to your apartment, you are going to bathe and watch that new series you’ve become addicted to and yes, you will shut off your Smartphone and enjoy a quiet evening babying yourself because you deserve it.  It’s the end of a grueling 60 hour week, you’ve pumped out more than your share of quality work and you slide into the seat of the Mustang you recently bought and head for the house. 
You suddenly realize you are happy.

You have reached a place most people never attain.  They keep chasing the elusive butterfly of happiness, not realizing they’ve stood on the threshold all their life.  It was there all along, all they had to do was see it.  The sweet-smelling rose has always been there, awaiting your sniff, but you couldn’t see it due to your far-sightedness and the paradigm you learned by those around you.

No one or nothing can make you happy.  Happiness is a state of mind and living in that moment is the goal.  It’s your assignment at birth and there are no CliffsNotes or shortcuts.  Slow down, look around, and start living your life with purpose.  Only then my friends will you find the happiness that eludes you.


Anonymous said…
Rebecca Cabaniss: Very nice
Anonymous said…
Tammy Reneau Tallant: Well said BB!
Anonymous said…
Dandy Don Cunningham: What a great article in the Baytown Sun today, my brother. You do such a wonderful job.
Anonymous said…
That was very true & thought provoking Bert.....Debi
Anonymous said…
Sandi White: You nailed it to the wall, it will be there forever. My lungs are breathing, I'm happy. My legs work, I'm happy. I may not have attained all I ever dreamed of but so what, I'm happy. Kudos to you my friend for articulating what anyone over 25 should know as common sense but seldom realize until much later. Life IS good, everything else is gravy.
Anonymous said…
Bryan White: I love the article you wrote, that was in today's paper Mr. Baytown Bert
Anonymous said…
Carla Young: You wrote that so well. It seemed my whole life I was saying - when I get to be 10 then I will be happy. - when I get to be 16 and I get to drive my car to school I will be happy, - when I graduated from high school - I will be an adult and I won't have to follow my parents rules - then I will be happy - now I have to get a job? Then you realize everything has been handed to you on a silver platter and you were not even aware. Your whole life so far was - I will be happy when I am an adult and can do what I want. Then when you are one - all you want is to be a kid again to escape from the stress of adult responsibilities like - raising a child. Be happy today. Today is all we have and some no longer have that.
Thanks for sharing a very inspiring post! A lot of people seek for happiness only to fail once they assess that they don't really have enough of what they have expected. I guess contentment plays a key role to be happy. Appreciating what you have is a step to happiness!

Popular posts from this blog

Camp fires, wood smoke, and burning leaves.

When I was a kid, everyone burned leaves in the fall. I always enjoyed it so much.It was a happy time. Man, that smell was amazing and you couldn’t go anywhere without smelling it. Of course now I know that it is a major source of air pollution and those of us that live inside the city limits are restricted from doing it. I don’t think I would burn them anyway, choosing to compost instead.
The whole family would engage in raking the yard and the reward was burning the leaves. The thick gray smoke would pour out like liquid clouds and we would run through it. Afterward, we smelled like smoke, but we didn’t care. I would wager that most people under the age of 30 have never even raked leaves into a pile, let alone burn them.
Growing up in north Georgia in the late 60’s, my 3 brothers and I would camp out most of the summer and burn anything and everything on our campfire. At the end of summer there wouldn’t be a stick, pine cone, or needle on the ground. We smelled like mountain men a…

Riding the waves

Back in 1974, after coming back to the USA from the unpleasant conflict in Southeast Asia, I was stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, California. Vandenberg has 20 miles of coastline that is basically closed to the public and people in residence, regardless if you are in the military or not. This rule didn’t seem to affect my fellow airmen and I from going body surfing on a lonely stretch of beach, far from controlling authorities. There was a submerged shelf that ran out a couple three hundred yards from the beach that was flat and about 6 feet deep.You could swim way out there and as the ocean waves came in, they would hit that shelf and make 5 feet high waves that white-capped all the way in. Now mind you, this was pre-Jaws and none of us had ever heard of a Great White shark. Year later I read where this stretch of beach was prime habitat and a couple years ago, an airman was killed right there.
We had been in the 65 degree water for about an hour and I was turning …

Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic

I wish I could remember who it was that said you can get a basic education in three years, but let us take a look at Ben Franklin as an example of that. We have a family joke that the answer to almost any Jeopardy clue is almost always “Who was Ben Franklin?”
When I am asked who I would most likely enjoy an afternoon with, it is always Ol’ Ben, the only President of the United States, who was never the President of the United States. Did you know he was the master of self-promotion and a man I admire? Even as a young lad, if he spotted a person of higher station, he would grab a shovel or some tool and begin to work diligently. The person would see him and remark, “What a fine worker that young man is!”
I’ve read a couple of books on the man and it still amazes me that he did so much with so little organized education. “From 1714-1716, Franklin attended Boston Grammar School and George Brownell's English School (for one year each) but he was withdrawn due to the expense of formal…