Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How to be Happy

I'll never forget the day I first visited Notre Dame. It was September 29, 2006. I've written about it before, on a different blog, but I've never before written about the car ride home afterwards.

Did you know that college visits are a great time to talk to your parents? They were for me, anyway. That afternoon in late September, we had a 2 hour drive ahead of us. Just me, my dad and my twin sister.

We talked a lot, as my family is known to do, and most of the discussion escapes me. I do remember that, at one point, the conversation turned to celebrities. How their marriages seem to end so quickly. How so many of them seem so unhappy.

"I think I know why so many famous people are unhappy," I said hesitantly. I was still trying to figure out how to put this. "It's because so many of them seem to live only for themselves."

I took a deep breath as I put into words what I had been thinking for a long time.

"I think the only way to be happy in life is to serve other people, and try to make them happy before yourself. Because if you just live for yourself... you'll never be happy. Right, Dad?"

Sometimes I'm amazed by how much I knew when I was younger. My dad agreed with me, and said he was glad that I had figured that out.

Ever since that conversation, I've sort of always held that as my gold standard. Not that I come anywhere close to sticking to it. But in general, if I notice that I seem restless and unhappy, that I'm being a regular old grump, it's probably because I'm not loving other people enough.

Of course I've lost sight of this goal many times in the past, and I'm sure I will lose sight of it again in the future, but I always try to come back to it.

By the way, my dad texted me Monday morning to remind me that it's just 10 days until I come home. I can't wait to see him again and have another one of our good conversations. I never expected, when I took this job in DC, that I would miss my family so much!

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