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.

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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.