by Keisha D. Hines,
As a child, I always knew I’d graduate from college, get married and have a child. But most importantly, I KNEW I’d be happy. I wanted to be happy and so I was. I was able to discern between feigned happiness and real happiness. I witnessed couples at church holding hands and smiling, but not saying a word to each other in more private settings. Mothers, professing to love motherhood, would light up when making statements like “…if I didn’t have kids I’d…” Fathers, watching television for hours, would ignore a crying child or a playful toddler wanting attention. Adults would constantly complain about their careers or lack thereof.
I’d see these things and wonder why adults weren’t happy with their lives. By no means am I being insensitive to life’s hardships or bad days -I’ve definitely experienced plenty- but I am challenging our thought process. I have resolved that unhappiness is a learned character trait; happiness is available to us, if we really want it.
Watching Disney movies and listening to old school R&B love songs caused me to buy into the notion of love, happiness, and bliss. I loved the thought of love: being loved, being in love, loving life, and teaching others to love. In the African-American community, we teach our children to be loving, forgiving, and to dream big but as our children grow we rob them of these teachings by emulating a different lifestyle. We exhibit a lifestyle that is full of grudges, violence, messy gossip, and hateful hearts towards anyone who mistreats us knowingly or by mistake. As children enter their teenage years and early adulthood, parents often wonder what happened to their little angels.
Our media also plays a huge role in our views and thoughts about love and life as well. Our music and movies often glorify divorce, violence, revenge, unhealthy lifestyles, and spiritual emptiness. What are we feeding ourselves? Is life really drama-filled or are we perpetuating what we see? Again, I’m not professing perfection rather raising consciousness.
I believe that it is. My mother taught me to enjoy life and love hard. But more importantly, she exemplified it by living a life of service and forgiveness. That’s what separated me from my peers; I learned how to love and be happy. Also, I wanted to be happy and so I was. Happiness wasn’t always a laugh, smile, or nice gesture but a still calmness and a genuine appreciation for life and people despite hardships. As stated above, I was (and still am) happy on purpose.
“A person will be just about as happy as they make up in their minds to be.” -Abraham Lincoln
BMWK: Do you think that happiness is a learned way of life? How do you remain happy despite the trials and tribulations that come your way?
Keisha Hines is a Christian counselor, wife, and new mother who is passionate about healthy relationships. Keisha specializes in family advocacy and conflict management. Connect with her on Twitter: @HinesKeisha.