‘Happier’ With Dave Flynn

‘Happier’

Does life have to be serious because you are an adult?!

Welcome to my second ‘HAPPIER’ column! Thanks for the lovely feedback on last week’s column, I very much appreciated it. Dave

Does life have to be serious because you are an adult? 

As I’m sitting on the floor watching my 6-month old daughter crawl around, laughing at me every time I make a funny face, I’m struck by a thought: when did so many of us lose  that childlike sense of wonder and awe? I recall the last time I scaled the large tree at the end of my street, and how, once I let go of other parents’ perception of me, I felt an overwhelming sense of freedom and lightness. Or last night when my 10-year old daughter and I were sitting on the couch with our feet in a foot bath, listening to a fantasy audiobook, laughing every time the skeleton detective would send fireballs at one of his enemies! 

To my knowledge, there’s no proof  that life demands only seriousness. Yet as adults many of us can be very serious, often shackled by the weight of our responsibilities. I wonder if, as we grow from kids into adults and navigate the awkward teenage years, we end up wearing a mask of seriousness to cover our vulnerabilities and pretend we’ve got it all figured out?  Could it be that being serious all the time is a habit that accidentally stops us from having fun?

Now, I’m not advocating for a perpetual state of childhood and shunning responsibilities. I certainly don’t aspire to the Peter Pan syndrome of never growing up. However, there seems to be a societal expectation that adulthood and being serious go hand in hand. I can’t help but notice that seriousness and feeling happier often seem to be at odds with each other.

Consider these top 5 regrets of the dying from patients in palliative care  as recorded by their  nurse. Each regret resonates with what I am talking about:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
  5. I wish I had let myself be happier

Most of these regrets seem to stem from an unconscious commitment to ‘seriousness’, from a detachment from our ‘inner child’—the essence of who we truly are. It appears that, in the end, what we yearn for isn’t a list of accomplishments that attest to how good an adult we were, but rather moments that reflect our authenticity and joy.

So the question becomes, how do we live as adults while honouring the child-like playful spirit within us? How do we balance the scales so that our final reflections are not of regret but of a life fully and joyfully lived?

When Steve and I started The Happy Pear as a veg shop, aged 24, we consciously chose not to use the word ‘work’ but instead would say ‘playing shop’. I know this sounds child-like but that is the whole point of it! The word work we observed was more often associated with doing work you most likely didn’t enjoy but endured . While on the other hand we saw that kids when playing were very often in the flow, super creative and completely alive. 

Is it a shift in perspective?

I think it is not about shunning your responsibilities but more  about adopting  an attitude of playfulness and an openness to fun and joy. 

Perhaps adulthood should be less about conforming to rigid standards of seriousness and more about cultivating a life that honours our true selves.To me it’s about giving ourselves permission to be more playful, to laugh heartily, to chase whims, and to nurture the connections that make life so rich. I wholeheartedly believe we can strive to achieve our goals and tackle our responsibilities while also making time for play, for spontaneity, and for the joy that makes life worth living.

At the end of the day, I think it’s really important to not wait until it’s too late to rekindle the spark of your inner child. I think it takes a clear intention to create a life where happier-ness and responsibility are not mutually exclusive but are interwoven into the fabric of our everyday existence. By doing so, we might just find that the most serious pursuit of all is the pursuit of a life filled with play, love, and laughter.

This week, I encourage you to introduce more lightheartedness into your day to day life. Maybe it is trying to not step on the cracks in the pavement or instead of avoiding puddles to jump in them and embrace getting wet! Maybe it is trying to climb a tree again and connect with that child like part of you that sees the world in awe and beauty.  I would love to hear from you, so feel free to reply and let me know your thoughts. Have a lovely week. Dave 🙂

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I would love your input on next week’s Happier Column – please vote below!

  1. How contemplating mortality can help with happier-ness
  2. Morning routines/rituals 
  3. Love, relationships & happier-ness
  4. The art of enough – finding contentment in wanting less

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