Ready for the Lesson
Monday May 10, 2010

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“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! | The Simply Luxurious Life

11 thoughts on “Ready for the Lesson

  1. That’s really interesting. But I’m not sure that hope as to do anything with happiness. On the contrary, I would say. I think that hope and expectation won’t allow you to live the moment, and for that matter, your passion, your love and what you do.

    Anyway, thanks for this post, I’m looking forward to reading other comments!

  2. What a great story. I love visiting your blog and hearing what you have to say about life, love and happiness. So wise you are! When I was fresh out of highschool, I went to live in Troyes, France for year because I wanted to learn the language and culture. Your story brought me back to that memory. Have a lovely day!

  3. Thought provoking post. I always thought people who break up an engagement rather than going through with a wedding they know is wrong are very brave.

    Happy Monday!

  4. Really lovely post and a very interesting quote!! Glad you were able to hear it when you needed to, and when you could listen. Definitely gives us all something to think about!

  5. I really enjoyed this post and I think that happiness is a choice, I’ve seen so many times as people chose to be happy and completely changed their lives. Others instinctively know how to enjoy what they have and live a happy life. What a wonderful experience that French class must’ve been for you. Hoping you are having a wonderful start to the week…and now I am inspired to take that quote to heart!

    xo Mary Jo

  6. I must be happy, since I have all three ingredients! Happiness to me, is not a final place. There are happy times, and sad times, and challenges in between, then happiness again. So
    many of my friends say they “just want to be happy”….you have it, sometimes lose it, then have it again – it’s continuous throughout your life! A splendid post!! Thanks for being you!

  7. You have no idea that with this post you express exactly what I feel right now!
    I’m at a point in my life where I’m asking myself “what do I want? Do I want to follow the way I’m going right now and which was defined by other people or do I want to start to take control about my life?” And yes, this is exactly what I want. I want to take the risky way and follow my dreams! I want to be myself!

    Thanks for this wonderful post! I just found your blog a few days ago, but it already gave me so much! Again, thank you!

    xoxo Sandra

  8. Hi S.L.
    I was just doing the dishes and a thought came to me.
    Just a thought from the peanut gallery, so to speak.
    Is it possible that you could be friends with the old boyfriend?
    I wonder where he is?
    I wonder if he still misses you.
    I wonder if he has changed.
    You are a charming, thoughtful, awesome person, talented.
    From what I can tell from your blog and musings.
    Please forgive the random thoughts of the dish washer:))))))

  9. Finds – You are so wonderful in your thoughts for others. Truly. I am so fortunate that I did and do care for him, however, a testament to his wanting to get married immediately way back when, prompted him to be married within a 2 years of our split. I have seen him briefly and still adore him, but his and my life have moved on. I truly wish him all of the happiness in this world because of the tremendous honesty he brought into my life during such a precarious time.

  10. Good Morning, s.L.
    I have recently been reading books by Boyle Katie.
    Have you heard of her?
    She is featured in the recent Oprah magazines.
    Basically, one thing she says is that if something falls away in your life…then You were spared.
    Again, just a thought from the peanut gallery.
    Have a super day:)

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