Capturing Happiness

For years, I've chased happiness, wished for it, envied those who seem to have it. But then something inside of me shifted, settled, and I stopped the chase. Happiness isn't a thing I can hold onto with both grasping hands; it's a choice, a decision, a step forward in faith rather than one backward in fear.

Yesterday, I was in tears over something I couldn't control. I felt powerless. And then Javi kept asking me which word rhymes with "sour" -- "fow-er" or "ow-or." I was crying and distracted, but he pursued an answer. Finally, I looked at him and said, "Fow-er? How do you spell that?" He brought me his paper and I saw it: Four. The child was so wrapped up in choosing the right o-u word to rhyme with sour that he read "four" as "fow-er."

I laughed like I hadn't laughed in days. Long and hard and with my whole body. He laughed, too, with humility and grace. I chose happiness, then. I made the decision to soak in the "fow-er" and reject the helpless, hapless anger and disappointment.

We hugged as the laughter began to subside and my big boy said, "I just can't believe I did that." And I said back to him, "I think it's fantastic. We'll make it our code word for when we need to remember the good stuff."

Happiness. A word, a touch, a glance, a feeling. A choice we make in both the light and the dark. A decision to know and love and trust even when it hurts. He and his sister are a lifeline to mine.

**This post is part of Wordful Wednesdays and Five for Ten, where we're giving each other five minutes a day for ten days. Won't you join us?**


  • Corinne Cunningham

    Thank you for the giggle :) years ago my brother did a similar thing w/ the word khaki (if I can spell it right...) calling it kayak-y when reasing it quickly and not knowing what it meant... made for a lot of giggling back then!

  • See Mom Smile

    Beautiful post! You're a great writer!

  • Dee

    LOL! Thats a lot of happiness!

  • Liz Mays

    Children nurture the soul, don't they? Love this!

  • Cheri

    Happiness is a choice everyday. Some days it's an easier choice to make than others. Glad Javi helped you see!

  • TKW

    That's what I love about kids--they come up with the darnedest things and take you by surprise!

  • Rudri

    Oh, how I love those belly laughs. They are especially nice when they come from adults too. Glad you got that moment. Lovely post.

  • C (Kid Things)

    We can have horrible days, but children know how to make us laugh like no other.

  • Anonymous

    " Happiness isn't a thing I can hold onto with both grasping hands; it's a choice, a decision, a step forward in faith rather than one backward in fear." You totally captured it in that one line! Your children are beautiful. In the business oflife it's easy to overlook the simple joys, but they are always there waiting for us to notice and see the happiness in them. I love your post.

  • Erica@PLRH

    Yes, Happiness is a choice but I never thought of it as a step forward. What a great concept! Thank you for that!

  • becca

    The best laughs come when they aren't even intended. Especially when they are from our kids, right? This is great. Real laughter... nothing better.

  • alisha

    thanks for the giggles. too cute!

  • terry

    Yes. Your words strike a chord straight through me. Thank you for this honest post.

    And the best, laughing until snot comes out of your nose. Bliss.

  • postmommy

    I love moments like this so much. My older son and I have been having more and more of these lately as he has become more (coherently) verbal. In fact, we had a moment sort of like this just a little while ago when he accidentally called me "Daddy."

    I recently heard a story on NPR about how children "don't make parents happy like they expected," as in, their life is not happier because there are children in it. I could not disagree more. They might be tough to handle sometimes, but I'd NEVER give them up, and they are the embodiment of joy.

    Thanks for sharing this cute little tale. It made me smile.

  • kate

    "I think it's fantastic. We'll make it our code word for when we need to remember the good stuff."
    YES! i love this part. and so true. we do need reminders from the ones we love the most. and isn't it convenient that they are the ones we see most often? ;)

  • Anonymous

    wonderfully written! and it's funny how kids can sometimes make you stop and realize that not everything has to be so serious all the time.

  • Anonymous

    This is adorable! What fun we can have with the English language - and with all of it's inconsistences it's pretty darn easy, too. Add kids to the mix and it's that much more fun!

  • Jack Steiner

    Children illuminate the darkness.

  • Shawna Cevraini

    "...it's a choice, a decision, a step forward in faith rather than one backward in fear."

    Yes, it is a choice. It has taken me a VERY long time to get that! I'm not quite there yet. My kids help A LOT and I'm glad you saw that with yours. They are so funny!

    So glad to have "found you" through FiveForTen! :)

  • Belinda Munoz + The Halfway Point

    Ahh, you captured it here. And beautifully. Thanks for sharing!

  • Tiffany

    That is precious!!!

  • Leslie

    It's cliche but so true: laughter IS the best medicine. Cracking up doesn't feel like a choice at first, but letting it change your mood and fill the rest of your day with happiness? That's a decision. A good one!

  • amber_mtmc

    My husband does this to me all the time. I am the queen of mispronunciations (like Iowa for one) (I pronounce it eye-oh-wah). It's nice to know that a 9 (9, right?)-year-old and I have something in common.

  • Stacia

    Oh, how this made me smile! I can't wait for the reading years to begin at my house. And I very much love the idea of a code word for happiness, a word that reminds you to be happy with the moment you're in while also bringing back such a wonderful memory. Fow-er! =>

  • Unknown

    That was a smart error on his part - deductive reasoning that would've worked had it not been the silliness of the rules of our language in the first place :)

    Glad you chose happiness. It's a great place to be.

  • Kelly Miller

    I told Javi about how I'd shared our little gigglefest with you all and he wants me to make sure you all know that OF COURSE he knows the world "four." He was just "trying so hard to finish that worksheet." That's my child -- more worried that you'll underestimate his brilliance than that you agreed he's hilarious.

  • ck

    That deep, guttural laughter is the best. It can wash out all that overwhelming stuff that grows inside. I loved so much about this post, it was beautifully writter, but I think this part was my favorite, "A choice we make in both the light and the dark. A decision to know and love and trust even when it hurts."

    Because I guess if it never hurt, happiness and laughter couldn't go nearly as deep as it does.

  • Jen

    Oh those beautiful, wise children! I think so often happiness IS a choice, absolutely. But it can be a hard choice to make, especially when difficult realities are making loud noises in my head. But my kids, like yours, bring the laughter and refocus me. And I count on them to continue to have that amazing ability.

  • Jami

    I just read your update above. That part is exactly like me. :)

  • Kathryn @ Marbury v MadisonAve

    Oh, I loved this! (And I loved the pictures). And I SO get the moment of realization when you finally figure out what your kids are trying to say. It never fails to make me smile as well in the simplicity of the interaction, its purity.

  • Melissa

    Being able to laugh together is happiness, for sure.

    And those photos are so full of personality!

  • Anto

    Fow-er! still giggling :-) Kelly it really happens that we can find happiness just around us. Many people go in search of happiness in vain. Little things if thoughtfully chosen can cheer us and make our day. Happiness is only a choice and we are the ones left to take the decision. Loved the picture of the kids, the expression is simply priceless!

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