“The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”
—Allan K. Chalmers
I can vividly remember the time in my life when I was first introduced to this quote and took it to heart. In retrospect, I’m shocked that it wasn’t until my junior year in college (a mere ten years ago) that I first remember coming across it. I can recall it almost plain as day. It was stated by my French professor who I remember epitomizing the class, femininity, confidence and je ne sais quoi of what I had always imagined a French woman to embody. More than likely I had heard the quote before, but because it was uttered by someone I admired and respected, it undoubtedly stuck. Another factor into this equation was that I was ready to listen.
At this point in my life I had just called off an engagement after having already sent out the Save the Date cards, chosen my bridal party and visited the wedding and reception locales. Needless to say, I took a huge U-turn by returning my ring. Up until this point in my life I had been trying to achieve happiness by chasing other’s definitions of happiness. Looking back, I realize I was merely chasing a mirage – something that would never be attained because I wasn’t figuring myself into the equation. What did I love? What was I passionate about? What made my heart sing? What were my unique and special talents, and how was I capitalizing on them?
Immediately upon making this decision, I decided to stop dreaming about visiting France and actually go. The only catch was that I had never taken a lick of French and had stuck to Spanish because growing up in my small town that was all that was offered and why change course? Silly, I know. So I enrolled in my first quarter of French 101, actually it turned out to be 103 because it was spring, and I needed a quarter’s credit to enable my venture to study abroad in Angers that summer to actually materialize.
Enter my French professor that I mentioned above. She was skeptical of me and my ambitions, but she must have known that I wasn’t about to be deterred, and she gave me as much help and as many suggestions on how to successfully navigate my way around France, namely, how to find a bathroom and how to ask politely for anything – “Je voudrais . . .”.
At some point during my short time in her class, she shared the three grand essentials of happiness, and it finally clicked. Maybe I had heard it before, maybe I had read it in a magazine somewhere or seen it elsewhere, but I didn’t listen. This time, however, I was listening.
While the word happiness is used, I like to look at it more as contentment, after all, “hap” is the root word for luck, and I believe that being prepared to take advantage of an opportunity should it come along isn’t just luck, but preparation. In one’s quest for contentment, these seemingly obvious ingredients truly are almost 99% effective in attaining your goal.
Think about it for a second. When you are expected to be at work or a job – you are given responsibility, you are given initiative – a purpose. When you are given something to hope for – you have a goal, and when you have something to love (I include friends, family, pets, passions, career, etc. in this category as well as significant others) you are pursuing and giving of yourself because you want to, because to not give to this particular person, passion or hobby, would go against who you are.
I know the parallel between today’s quote and my story is a little hard to see, but for me I had never before really asked myself those questions, not seriously evidently. When I really took a look at them I had to look at myself; I had to ask myself is this what I want to be doing, is this what I want to hope for? And my answer was as simple as NO. Pursuing married life at that point in my life wasn’t anywhere in my mindset, but instead in someone else’s, and I had allowed myself to go along for the ride. Mind you, the ride was my life, and I was letting someone else drive. Things needed to change, and thankfully, they did.
So how does your life match up with these three essentials? Do you feel content? I truly hope everyone finds their own contentment because at least for me, the peace of mind that is found upon defining one’s life according to their own terms is priceless.
Have a lovely start to your week and a fantastic Monday. I am so happy you stopped by today. Bonjour!