Forgetting to be happy

I like the feeling of being happy, but I sometimes forget to be happy.

It’s not hard for me to experience happiness because my life is filled with blessings. But for whatever reason the pull to be grumpy and annoyed is weirdly strong. I say weirdly because being grumpy isn’t fun. There’s nothing fun about it. And sometimes all it takes for me to not be grumpy is to simply remember to be happy.

How can I forget to be happy? Why do I forget to be happy?

Emotions are so fickle. I’ve written and pondered about this before, but they are frustrating things. It’s amazing how quickly I can go from happy to angry and from angry to excited and from excited to sad and so on.

Anxiety is a happiness thief.
I hate that.

I was sitting with a group of friends on vacation the other day. One of my best friends was there with me and as we were sitting around chatting and laughing I was thinking about how much I enjoyed being there in that moment. I felt like I belonged, I wasn’t just trying to fit in.

One of my best friends was in the mix of people there. He’s been working at Boys Town for over 18 years now. As we talked and laughed about stories of the past, people would mention previous couples who had been here.

Someone mentioned, “You were really close with them, weren’t you?” and he said, “Yeah, I was.” And I immediately went from feeling happy to feeling anxious and like I didn’t belong. Was I just another one of the couples that has come into his life, and will leave eventually, and just be someone mentioned for a few seconds as someone that he used to be close with?

I’m not sure what it is exactly about that thought that makes me feel so uneasy and sensitive and anxious. But whatever it was, it caused me to forget to be happy about the moment I was in. I was with my friends, enjoying life, telling stories. And I forgot to be happy.

The next day I found out that Anthony Bourdain committed suicide. I didn’t know a lot about him, but I know enough that I was still shocked by it. Reminded again how powerful the change of emotions are in shaping our behaviors and decisions.

There are moments recently that have made me very happy:

  • An incredible morning boat ride on lake Okoboji in Iowa. The waves were super choppy and at full speed kept hitting them letting tons of water splash us inside of the boat. We did this for nearly two hours. It was so much fun.
  • Simply being one of the adults at a camp made me happy. Throughout my entire childhood I went to camps and gathering in which I was never in charge. But now I’m one of the adults making the decisions, leading groups of teenagers. And sometimes I would simply pause and take in that fact with deep satisfaction. Whether it be in the dinner line, or as kids walked up to me to ask me if I would drive them on a boat. What a life I have!
  • Seeing Ezra play on the beach and keep himself entertained was so much fun for me. To see how joyful and happy he was made me so happy.
  • Being with my wife, Sarah, and having a group of six teenage girls with us that we together call a family.
  • Having three other guys there with me who understand what this job is like, and the challenges and joys that come from it.
  • Riding in the van hearing the girls laugh while dancing to songs on our Okoboji playlist.
  • Seeing an amazing sunset the first night while I rode on my Boosted board.
  • Great food.
  • Seeing one of my girls win “Camper of the Week.”
  • Taking pictures and video of moments with the girls on the trip.

Those are a handful of moments that helped me remember to be happy. To be grateful.

The struggle is to continue to remember to be happy because there are great blessings all around me.

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