Happiness Is A By-Product, Not A Destination

December 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm , by 

2 years.

Dear Jack,

In the capitalist nation we live in, with its nearly inseparable culture, we have this habit of always finding a new level of happiness, only after we have reached the goal we had been aiming for up until that point.

Just like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory explains, happiness will always elude us as long as we chase it.

However, if we can find a way to be content with what we already have, then happiness becomes a by-product of the integrity of that lifestyle.

Yet at the same time I recognize my personal need for a materialistic goal to inspire me to work harder. Strangely, mine is a Jeep Wrangler.

Actually, you and I both have a bizarre infatuation with Jeep Wranglers.

It all started several months back when Jeep Wranglers became one of the first vehicles you could identify by name. Despite being completely content with my Honda Element that I drive you around in, I had never really noticed how, at least here in Nashville, it appears that for every 10 vehicles on the road, one of of them is a Jeep Wrangler.

Yesterday at Target I helped you, or maybe I should say you helped me, try to find a 97 cent Hot Wheels or Matchbox model of the white Jeep Wrangler with a soft top we both fantasize about the most.

(Maybe it’s because somehow they remind me of Imperial Walkers from The Empire Strikes Back?)

Turns out it was a bust. Jeep Wranglers, like fire engine trucks, are not easily obtainable in small die cast form.

After Mommy heard about us catching a case of “Jeep Fever,” now she’s on board too. It could be something as subliminal  as a Jeep Wrangler most aligning with the culture of our family’s lifestyle: simple and classic, yet low-maintenance, rugged, and even a bit quirky.

So as your dad, I’m caught between the realization that happiness is a by-product of being content with the simple, yet privileged life we already lead as a middle class American family, and the fact that I am motivated by money.

As I spend 40 hours a week working my real job as an Employee Relations Specialist, then 12 hours writing material for The Dadabase, then on top of that, studying at least 5 hours preparing for my HR certification, it helps knowing that all this work is going towards growing my career opportunities…for our family.

Sure, it’s a paradox. All that really matters is spending time with you and Mommy, yet most of my time I have to spend working.

That’s why when the three of us are all awake, I make sure the time we spend is quality time.

Of all the life lessons I will be teaching you, perhaps the truth that “happiness can’t be chased” is one of the hardest for me to consistently teach by example.

But I can’t show you that we’re already happy with what we have now, I’ll definitely never be able to show you if we ever get more than we have now.





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