Friday, June 24, 2016

Where Do You Find Happiness?

Written By: Danielle Silva Heckenkamp
Now that it’s almost summer it’s time for a vacation! My best friend, Kate, and I took a much needed break. In the spirit of being overly ambitious, we drove down to Dallas/Fort Worth from Wisconsin in a fifteen passenger van with all the kids (Kate's three, and my four). Yes, as I said, overly ambitious. We were prepared for the worst, after all having seven kids under the age of nine…something has to go wrong, right? In the end, it was one of the most relaxing vacations!

While enjoying the time away from the daily demands of life, I learned some amazing things. I might just be late to the party, but I came to few eye-opening realizations. Life is tough, but I think we forget to remember that it is difficult for everyone, not just a few of us. We all have different demands or expectations, and yet, we each handle these situations differently. No one's life is perfect, and I can't tell you how tired I am of reading about this subject. Yes, we know your life isn't perfect, but why is it necessary to describe all those flaws to the world? Let’s be happy and support each other. Dwelling on the hard times won’t make them any easier.

Without the daily demands at home (laundry, dusting, cleaning, organizing, etc.) I was able to focus more on the children, and it was so refreshing! Instead of pulling myself away to finish a load of laundry, I was able to sit on a swing with them and watch the sunset, or even just watchthem play in the fields. It built my spirit to “just be”. I was able to “be myself” and enjoy the beauties of life without distractions. It forced my choleric temperament to enjoy those small moments, because I typically have a never ending "to-do" list. The simple happiness of the children, brought me joy as I had the opportunity to watch them loving life.

If you have ever been to Texas, especially coming from Wisconsin, you will be amazed at the generosity, kindness, and overall joy found in these warm weather friends. I wasn't sure if it was the warm weather that brought out their constant happiness (as we Wisconsinites are a bit grumpy during the six months of winter) or maybe this is in their nature. Whatever the case, it was so wonderful to be around happy people, it made us happier! It made me begin to think that as a society we rely too much on finding inner happiness, instead of offering happiness to others which then comes back to us full circle. We hear the phrase "do something for yourself", whether it's a spa day, girls weekend, working out, shopping, coffee, but after getting the opportunity, did it make us truly any happier? It might have relaxed us for a brief moment, but when we return to our daily jobs, has it truly impacted us in the way we thought? Or has it just impacted our wallets?

One of the best memories from the trip was during our visit to The Silos in Waco, Texas. If you haven't watched Fixer Upper, I highly recommend it! But the most amazing part of The Silos, was the "green area". An area of grass was put right in the middle of the buildings for the children and families to play. It was amazing to watch the children twistwith the hula hoops and pick up a friendly game of soccerwhile making new friends. The families, especially the children, were the center of it all. The store, the offices, and the future bakery were all perfectly situated on the edge of the “green”, but the children were in the middle. It was beautiful to see what matters most! This, of course,made me want to support them even more. I purchased a few too many items. Shh, don’t tell my husband.

It's time to ask ourselves, where do we find true happiness? We are all different, and we will all find our happiness in different ways, but after this amazing vacation I have learned that instead of focusing on findingonly inner happiness, we need to create an outerhappiness, with our families, friends, children, and even the strangers on the street. Ultimately, it doesn't matter how we feel inside if we are not happy on the outside and vice versa. It makes sense that these two are linked eternally together! 

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