Saturday, November 15, 2014

How My Search For Happiness Led Me Home

Asking The Big Question

I've always been a person who has internally asked myself the question, "am I living it right?"  This is something I have struggled with since my teen years, and a question I've asked more and more when it came to making significant life decisions - getting married, pursuing a certain job, purchasing a house, having kids, etc.

Often times it seems as though complete attainment of happiness is well, unattainable.  In effort to keep our sanity, we have to adjust our mentality to be happy with our circumstances.  Or to paraphrase a quote from the famous children's book Charlotte's Web, "that'll do."  As I've gotten older, and had to make more significant life decisions, I've found that at times you can spend to much time thinking about the decision itself, causing paralysis of choice because you are afraid of making the wrong choice.  Most times, you just need to make a choice and roll with it, embracing whatever outcome might follow and make the best of what situation unfolds.

People look for happiness in a number of places, and a number of people look for happiness in very far off places, searching for a certain something that will make them feel complete.  Eric Weiner wrote a book entitled The Geography of Bliss, where a self-proclaimed grump (himself) embarks on a tour of the happiest and unhappiest countries, as measured by the world happiness database.  Weiner (yes, pronounced whiner) hopes that by visiting these countries, he can find the recipe for happiness, and unhappiness, to help him in his own pursuit of the seemingly allusive goal of happiness.

I'm happy in a lot of places, and I've found happiness in a number of places - foreign countries, exotic locales, amazing adventures. From the outside, I've always been seen as a "happy guy" and on the inside my feelings more often than not replicate my exterior emotions.  Despite this, I've still struggled internally with that big question.  The issue with this question though, is that it focuses too much on the unknown, something we have no control over.  Sure, I could maybe be in a place - physical or emotional - where I might be happier had I made different life choices.  However, I could obviously also be in a place where I might be considerably less happier than I am right now.

For me, it helped to rephrase the question to, "am I living it right, right now?"  Given the current circumstances laid out before me, is what I am doing at the moment providing me with the highest level of attainable happiness.  When I rephrased the question, it helped me to better understand where I wanted to be spending the bulk of my time and energy, and that was how I came to make one of the biggest and best decision of my life so far.  Two weeks ago, I left my job to stay at home and support our ever growing family - two young girls under four with a baby boy on the way in a few months.  Ultimately, my current search for happiness led me home.

My decision to make this life change unfolded over the past six months, and I'll divulge more of the details and shed some light on my own personal decision in subsequent posts.  I've started this blog not in hopes to receive accolades for what I'm doing, because it's not rocket-science, I'm just doing what I think is best for our family.  But seriously, I've obviously started it because ""Dad Blogs" are all the rage these days (or so my wife tells me).

Actually, I'm hoping that this medium will selfishly serve as an outlet for my personal reflections, and undoubtedly help me hang on to some of my sanity.  I also hope it provides an opportunity for conversations about what does modern parenthood look like, how do we find happiness if the daily interactions with our families, and are we, as a society, support an environment that values family.  It's a conversation I want to have, because it centers on questions that I've asked myself as a young parent and things that I read in parenting "self help" and "self humor" books.

The Utilitarian in me wants us all to be happy, as happy as we can be.  But I also want our happiness to bolster the collective happiness of our society, environment, country, state, city, neighborhood and family.  I think it can be relatively easy for us to list of things that we think make us happy - food, beer, sex, sleep, etc.  When I asked myself what made me happy, the answers were pretty straightforward.  But when I actually thought about how those answers made me happy, why they were the answers in the first place, and how I was going to use those answers to ensure I was on my personal path to happiness, things got considerably murkier.  They aren't easy questions to answer, but ones I think we definitely need to be asking.

So, I hope you enjoy it.  I'd love feedback and comments that are constructive and add to the conversation, or help me improve on my literary skills.  For those of you who may not know me as well as others, you should know that as a second language I am fluent in sarcasm.  If you are wondering if some of my comments are made in jest, you're probably correct.  I'll try to clarify when I think it might be needed.  Also, I'll attempt to keep the colorful language to a minimum, but I am personally a fan of occasional, appropriately-utilized profanity.

What's in a name?

Some of you may be wondering how this literary masterpiece (sarcasm) received the name it did.  Or maybe you don't really care.  Well, I'm going to explain it anyway, sort of.  During my later years of college, I somehow received the nickname of "the King."  If you are one of those people that know how that came about, good for you.  If you don't know, I'm not going to tell you, and you are welcome to formulate your own idea of how that might have transpired - I love a cleverly fabricated story that doesn't hurt anyone other than myself.  There is also the old adage of a man being the ruler of his house, or the "king of his castle".  While I don't really adhere to this philosophy, it seems to fit my current arrangement in a somewhat different fashion.  So, I'm going to roll with it.  

The "greenest" component comes from the notion that the "grass is always greener on the other side."  I've often had that mentality myself throughout my search for happiness, and it has often been that mentality that has kept me from realizing what really makes me happy.  I truly believe that I'm standing on the greenest possible grass I can right now.  Sure, there might be greener grass on the other side of the fence, but that grass was probably just fertilized with chemicals which aren't safe for young children or pets to walk on.



  1. Hi...I am a virtual friend of Mary Jensen. I believe your mother-in-law knows Mary, too. I have recently retired from public education and have been kind of at a loss trying to figure out what I should be doing now. Mary and I have talked about my retirement and she shared your blog URL with me today. Seems that you and I might be looking for the same thing. I realize I am probably 30+ years further along in life than you are but maybe we can support each other and cheer each other now and then as we find our own Greenest Kingdom. Good luck!

  2. Not sure if you can see my URL - but in case you can't and might want to stop by, it is