Life Invests in Us. But Are We Worthy of Life?

We’re an “investment.” Happy enough is not a enough.

I’m happy enough. I don’t expect much. I don’t give much. I don’t get much. I’m happy enough.

~ Waitress, a movie (2007)

We’re living in detestable times. At all four corners of the Earth, we humans are reveling in war, chaos, and unrest. Humanity is awake and it’s vexed and throwing tantrums like a two-year old.

Truth is, humanity’s immaturity is nothing new — our nonsensical misbehavior has been on repeat since we began to walk upright. It’s what we’ve done and what we do.

Only now, anyone with a smartphone can capture and transmit our ignorance, stupidity, selfishness, greed, and evil intents around the world in real time. Plus, we have inexhaustible sources for unpleasant news, lies, and damn lies.

Frankly, it’s totally understandable that many of us are bone weary. We’re exhausted from viewing and/or suffering through the relentless absurdity and the madness. We can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.

So, we want to throw our hands up in the air and say, “I’m happy enough.” In other words, we decide to settle for what has been and what is. We decide to settle for the status quo. We decide to accept that we can’t ever be better than the worst among us.

Hard labor birthed us

But is “happy enough,” enough? Should we settle? Is this approach worthy of all it took for Life to birth us? Let’s consider this…

A mother carries a baby deep in her womb for the better part of a year. And she endures…

  • morning and/or afternoon nausea;
  • swollen feet;
  • stretch marks;
  • a belly the size of a beach ball; and
  • the knowledge that after the happy event her body will probably not bounce back to what is was.

Then, if all that wasn’t enough, with one foot in the grave, she does hard, manual labor to push through an opening smaller than the size of a cherry pit a football-sized baby.

“YIKES!”


And if she is brave enough to breast feed, well, do you have any idea how much cracked nipples hurt when those sweet, tiny lips take hold?!

OUCH!


Now, if we were a lucky baby, our mothers continued to nurture us in a million little ways – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially — for 18 years (minimum).

And if we’re luckier still, we have daddies who love our mothers or, at the very least, actively partner with her to nurture us into adulthood.

For our parents, it’s a journey of love and sacrifice. It’s the price they pay for engaging with life.

We’re here. Is enough, enough?

The point is: Our parents invest and sacrifice a lot for us.

So, in light of that, doesn’t the attitude “I’m happy enough” seem decidedly defeatist?

Please, say yes.

Now, it’s arguable if life is a blessing. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. I suppose our point of view on that depends on how good the “hand” Lady Fortune dealt us, our innate nature, and/or where we are in our life cycle.

But whether we consider life a blessing or a curse, we’re here. And it makes sense to approach life with high expectations.

Because how else will we, and consequently, humanity ever be better than it is?

Yes, you’re only human

Yes, our expectations are largely disappointments.

Yes, we often get so much less than we give.

Yes, we feel lost.

Yes, we feel misunderstood and lost in translation.

Yes, we feel hopeless. Whatever we can do seems like trying to fill up a 5-gallon bucket with an eyedropper.

Yes, sometimes, we feel the darkest despair laying waste to every good thought and feeling.

And, yes, our death is certain.

If we have a heart and a conscience, these aforementioned feelings are natural and a given. We’re human, after all.

But here’s the thing…

Even when all seems lost and we’re all out of hope and faith, you, I, we must commit to digging deeper and finding our way back to hopeful high expectations.

Maybe we turn off the news for a time and regenerate.

Maybe we sit quietly and listen to silence.

Maybe we read a book or listen to a song that soothes and calms.

Maybe we turn to someone who we respect and who is emotionally stronger or wiser to guide us back.

Maybe we find others who are truly less fortunate to help and support out of their darkness.

Maybe we go for long walks in nature.

But you, I, we cannot surrender to “I’m happy enough.

Why?

Because this attitude is simply unworthy! There is no joy or progress in “happy enough.” Our mothers and fathers’ labors and investments deserve better than this. Our children — the future — deserve better. You, I, and we deserve better.

So, don’t be lame and permanently settle for “I’m happy enough.” It’s not enough.

UPDATED on June 2, 2021.

6 thoughts on “Life Invests in Us. But Are We Worthy of Life?”

  1. I do not believe in being happy enough. There are periods of time when we are happy and those times when sadness enters our life. I do expect common decency from family and friends, so yes, I do expect much.

    To quote The Good Book: It is always better to give than to receive. In other words, give of yourself without expecting anything in return. Just knowing that you make someone happy also contributes to your happiness.

    During our lifetime we experience so much pain and suffering, and yet we continue to cling to this life with hope and expectation that tomorrow will be better and that we ourselves will bring more happiness to those we come in contact with.

    Reply
    • Well, The Good Book has a point, but only up to this point: That approach only works if the great majority of us behave in this way. What happens when you live in a world where most of us were apparently raised in a barn and think the sun shines out of area we use to sit on? Then, givers have to set boundaries, because takers never do!

      And yes, it is fascinating that in light of life’s harsh realities, we still cling!

      Reply
  2. Thanks for your attitude, Janine, and for your bravery. The Spanx founder has a book out and the opening line is “Life does not come with a manual, but thank goodness it comes with a mother.”

    Reply
  3. I agree, Happy is not enough but I do prefer to be happy!!! Life is way to short to be continually sad. I know that sadness creeps in and oftentimes we can’t control it but it’s worth the attempt to stave it off and Be Happy. The song “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands” comes to mind. We ought to all try to be more like children who don’t fret as much about life and are happy most of the time. Let’s strive to be happy but not at the expense of others. I hope and pray that some day everyone will be treated with dignity and respect. Let’s all be happy together ❤

    Reply
    • You’re right. And your wise comment hits home the point I am trying to make. Let’s strive to be truly happy and not settle for just “happy enough.” There is no joy or progress in “happy enough.” Let’s do work for a world where we can all be truly happy and happy together.

      Reply

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