The Happiness Equation

6:00 AM Elizabeth Seckman 34 Comments


Last week, I mentioned that happiness was hard to find when you're searching too hard for it. Loni Townsend mentioned in the comments that she'd always believed in the happiness equation:
Happiness = Reality - Expectations.

Loni's comment reminded me of a perfect sort of happy memory. 

It was a beautiful spring day. The air was warm and the new grass was tender and green, its fresh scent carried on a light breeze. It wasn't the kind of day you wanted to spend in a house, so I took my boys to my grandma's farm for a visit. 

While we sat on the porch, I told my grandma about this spot at the back of the farm that, as a young girl, I thought for certain was enchanted. 

She asked me to describe the spot. The details of the place were cemented in my brain as a little girl, so it was mostly a vague, whimsical description. I remembered there was a rock by a tree. But not just any rock. It was flat and wide, making it the perfect seat for relaxing and looking down over the bank to a small stream. Wildflowers in pastel hues grew along the water's edge. 

My grandma said she thought she knew the spot. I wanted to go find it. We each took a boy by the hand and off we went. (I only had two boys at the time: Caleb, 4 and Cole, 2.) Up over the fields and into the woods. In no time, we found the spot. My boys loved the place as much as I did. There were rocks to throw and box turtles to catch. 

On the way back to the house, we stopped at the top of the hill that looked out over the farm. The waning sun cast a glow over the greens and blues of land and sky. As we paused there, my grandma said that every now and then, life gives you a perfect moment. You can't plan for them, she said. They just happen. It's the kind of moment that is unscripted reality. And without a script, there are no expectations.

The Helmick Farm



34 comments:

  1. Loni did word it well. That's why we can't chase happiness. It's a by-product of simply living.
    Did all of your boys get to see that magical spot?

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    1. No, just the two and they don't remember it. By the time the other boys were born, my grandma wasn't much for that long of a walk.

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  2. I think the equation over simplifies the calculs.

    That leaves out all of the daydreaming, and reading. Reading!!

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    1. I don't think it leaves them out. I think the equation reminds us to enjoy life in its simplest forms. It's the expectation that every day should be something exceptional is what make many unhappy. A day spent with a good book is an awesome day. We much remember to appreciate that!

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  3. It sort of reminds me of when people put too much pressure or set too high expectations for holidays, birthdays, vacations, etc. Planning is fine, but then you need to let go. :)

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    1. My mother always did that. I used to tease her that she kept confusing reality with tv shows and expecting too much.

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  4. Re-visiting the "enchanted place" of your childhood with your grandmother and sons sounds like a perfect day. The concept of unscripted reality having no script is very profound. Your grandmother was a very wise woman.

    Have a super weekend!

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    1. She really was a wise woman. Most of my life lessons I share often start with, my grandma

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  5. :) Glad I could return happy memories to your mind! It does sound like a perfect moment.

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  6. Sometimes those moments surely come about indeed. Sounds like revisiting the enchanted place was one of those moments for sure.

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    1. Almost any day spent with my grandma was a good day...even days spent cleaning windows.

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  7. This seems like a great thing to do. Thanks for sharing!

    www.ficklemillennial.blogspot.com

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  8. Pity you didn't take the other two boys there. An enchanted spot is very special. Happiness is so illusive but when it happens, it is marvellous.

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    1. I don't go to the farm much since my grandma passed away. I should go back. Take some pictures at least.

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  9. I've learned, most of the time, to really enjoy the good moments because like bad moments, they are fleeting. I've tried to have no expectation on how long one of those beautiful moments last because then the worry ruins them. Living them as they happen makes life beautiful. And memories, like yours, make being in the moment perfect.

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    1. Thinking too much can sometimes be a bad thing. I think what makes the unscripted moments so special is that they happen organically and we don't have the chance to set up the expectations.

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  10. Not having expectations can definitely increase happiness. My own expectations, when they aren't met, hurt my happiness, so I need to remember that equation.

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    1. Same here. Besides, when you don't have expectations, you are more flexible to changes.

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  11. What a wonderful moment to share that enchanted spot with the boys (and see it again yourself)! Loni's words are wise. The more we want and expect the moment to be happy, the less likely it will. 'Go with the flow' is my motto and so far, it sparks tons of little happiness.

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    1. And when you go with the flow, you're not so stressed trying to manage every minute.

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  12. May more perfect moments sneak up on you and enrich your life! :-)

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  13. Well said!!

    I had a wonderful afternoon Sunday with several strangers and it was totally unexpected, but when I left them several hours later, I realized it had been a good while (sans-Mirjam) since I'd laughed and felt that simply happy around others.

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    1. When you're not tied up in thinking about every little thing, it's easier to just be and enjoy life as it unravels.

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  14. ooooh i really love this..."expect nothing, you will never be disappointed"!!!

    childhood memories are the best!!!

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    1. Everyone kept telling me to enjoy my childhood when I was a child...now I understand why.

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  15. Beautiful sentiment and story, Elizabeth... sounds like the making of a perfect children's storybook. "The Enchanted Rock by the Stream." Your grandma was very wise indeed.

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    1. I tried writing a children's story once. It was awful! Kid's books seem like they'd be easy to write, but I think they're one of the hardest. Books on quantum physics and such, I assume are the hardest.


      But it would be a great setting for a magical story! Maybe one day...

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  16. I'm awestruck by this one particularly beautiful statement: "The waning sun cast a glow over the greens and blues of land and sky." Very eloquent, and I appreciate the sentiment. Expectations can and do really mess us up.
    Be well, friend.

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    1. Wow. That does look pretty good taken out of context. LOL

      You be well, too.

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  17. I love this - both Lori's statement and your beautifully written description of a wonderful and unexpected day.
    Thanks for sharing this, Elizabeth.

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