Is Life Too Short for Anything but Happiness?

“There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.”

This quote from José N. Harris’s book Mi Vida: A Story of Faith, Hope and Love, that’s posted all over Facebook, is really making me think what life is all about.

leapWe want to be happy of course, but Harris makes it seem as if anything but happiness has no real place in life. But . . . When someone dies, is that supposed to make us happy? When we have a painful or fatal disease, is that supposed to make us happy? When people all around us are suffering torments about which we can only guess, is that supposed to make us happy?

Are we supposed to walk away from children who don’t make us happy or throw them out of the house and force them walk away from us? Are we supposed to abandon an aged parent that doesn’t make us happy? Age changes people, and seldom for the better. In many cases, the elderly get mean and demanding and selfish, putting unbearable burdens on their caretaking children, but is that a reason to abandon them?

Are we supposed to walk away from people who need us because we can’t handle their suffering? This happens all too often to people whose mates are dying, especially if it’s a slow death, and it happened to me. At first, people were concerned and supportive, but as the dying continued for months and then years, people faded away because they couldn’t handle my suffering. I couldn’t walk away because I was tied to the pain and agony through love and caring for my dying mate, and that unhappiness became intensified when I found myself alone with no one to talk to because everyone else was concerned only with happiness. In fact, there was a note of disdain to those who walked away, as if somehow I brought the disaster on myself.

Perhaps it is understandable, this abandonment of people who are unhappy, but it’s not very kind. It’s not as if we chose to be unhappy — we had our trauma thrust upon us. We did the best we could to survive under appalling circumstances. Those who abandoned us couldn’t deal with our unhappiness for the duration of a phone call, yet we had to deal with it every minute of every day. Was I supposed to be happy my life mate/soul mate was dying? Was I supposed to act as if my life were fun and games? I did what I could to find peace during those times, did what I could to separate my feelings from his. He was the one dying, after all. I only had to live.

It’s ironic, actually, all this demand for happiness from Christians, for isn’t the whole point of Christ that he suffered for us? He didn’t come to Earth to be happy for us, but to suffer for us. So why our insistence on being happy?

I do think we need a certain amount of happiness, and it’s our responsibility to be as happy as possible, but to just walk away from those who, through no fault of their own, cause us unhappiness seems a bit too self-centered to me. I do understand that we shouldn’t have to deal with abusive situations or situations that destroy us, but a little unhappiness never hurt anyone.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

8 Responses to “Is Life Too Short for Anything but Happiness?”

  1. E Bishop Wooten Says:

    Victor Frankl once said man finds happiness by helping others find theirs. Jesus paid the ultimate price so that believers could find true happiness. He may have suffered but He probably had fun too with friends. I doubt He is as serious as people make Him out to be.

  2. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    I believe the idea is to be happy at Christmas and reflective at Easter. Christ was supposedly born on Christmas day. He supposedly suffered on Good Friday which is in Easter. (I say supposedly because the original dates were changed to make Christianity more popular).

    I am not the happiest guy in the world but I do like to have the opportunity to make family and friends happy or at least happier at Christmas. I suppose part of the Christmas and New Year experience for me is to find things to be grateful for. I need hope to get myself over the hurdle of the beginning of yet another year. A lot of people probably feel the same way.

    Then there are different views on happiness. Last year I was on the train furiously writing down ideas for a novel chapter when this guy asked me why I don’t just take it easy and relax. I told him I was relaxed…sort of. In fact I was having my own brand of fun and I suppose happiness. Strange to some people but there you have it.

  3. Paula Kaye Says:

    Pat you have hit on exactly how I am feeling right here at this very moment. I am starting into the 3rd year of being my husband’s caregiver. This past year has been the hardest as there were several times when we called everyone to say the end was near only to have him pull through and continue to live…if that is what you want to call it! It sounds terrible when I put it that way, but what the heck. That is how it is. And I agree that going around on-line only to find all this happiness ‘bullsh**’ (pardon me) just makes me all that more angry at the state in which I find myself. It is not wonder the family and friends don’t want to be around us anymore. I don’t want to be around us either. But I thank you for having the grace to write that life just isn’t all about Happiness. And even though I do call myself a Christian, I struggle with the very idea of why we are going through all this! I love your blog so much.

    Smidgens, Snippets, & Bits

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Paula, I’m sitting here trying to think of something wise to say in return, but all I can think of are those long days, weeks, months and now years that you’ve had to deal with an untenable situation, and my heart goes out to you. I’m glad that at least here, on this blog, you can tell the truth. Wishing you peace in this new year.

  4. Shannon Golden Says:

    I know Jose personally, I don’t think that quote means walk away from all things that make you unhappy, we all know we can’t always do this in our life. What it means is eliminate what you can that doesn’t make you happy. You get up every morning and you can decide is this going to be a good day or bad day, regardless of what happens. It’s all in the perspective of how you look at life. I suffered terribly through many things. I still get up every morning and decide it’s a good day and I want to be happy, without walking away from everything or everyone.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Good to know, Shannon. People kept sending me this quote, expecting me to dump everything that makes me unhappy, and it just didn’t make sense.

      • Shannon Golden Says:

        Pat, glad my explanation helped. I wish I knew someone who could teach me how to just walk away from everything to be happy. 🙂

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          To be honest, I don’t know if we could be happy just walking away from everything that brings us unhappiness. Grief and sorrow help crack open our hearts and allow them to eventually accept even more happiness and love. Ignoring other people’s distress can only bring us more unhappiness because of what it says about us as humans. And overcoming problems helps bring satisfaction and a greater ability to cope. There are many important aspects life, not just happiness — compassion, acceptance, striving, honor, kindness to name a few.

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