Happy Meals

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. -Plato

I know why Happy Meals were and are such a hit. It’s the promise of a moment of happiness. A toy. A special box that is all yours. Food that’s “designed” just for you. As an adult I crave “happy meals.” In this season of life I need them. Reality is the Happy Meal is brilliant marketing. Can you really sell happiness? Is it possible to buy happiness for your children that are melting down or so far past done they can’t function without screaming?

I say yes. You can buy temporary happiness. Does it last? Most likely not. Does it fill your need to be content and happy with your life? Probably not long term. But does it make you smile for just a moment in a life that is challenging and feeling like a bit of a battle? Yes it does. And that’s not bad.

The kindest thing I can do for those around me is make sure I have “happy meals” throughout my week. I believe that God is a good God and in a good mood. If you were to meet me now though I wonder if you would even entertain that idea being true. I’m not proud of that. But as I battle through this season, my own self pity and transition that seems to never finish I fear that when you look at me you would not believe that God is in a good mood. I’m not okay with that. Core values define us and our actions. One of my core values is being challenged by my circumstances and my own limitations.

So I have “happy meals” and I’m okay with that. I feel my stress reduce instantly and a smile form at just the thought of them.

Starbucks. It’s my “happy meal” and happy place.

It’s cliche. It’s so overtly American lots might cringe. But hey, I am an American. And this is my “happy meal” and what brings me brief moments of happiness. In a country that doesn’t like Americans I can sometimes down play that I am an American, laugh at the jokes made, and have to just be okay when people roll their eyes at anything American. But this my friends, is the key. It’s my “happy meal,” and feeling extra American just adds that much more happiness.

Running. It’s my other “happy meal.”
Sometimes I can’t actually believe that is truly a happy place for me but it is. Within moments of my feet hitting the pavement life gets a little easier to handle. I begin to smile. I like my life and my city (which in itself is no small miracle). It can change my day. Move me from depressed to happy in one second. My son used to go with me in the stroller and recently decided that’s no longer fun. As I was leaving for a run yesterday in a break in the horrific weather, he said, “I don’t want you to go running Mommy.” Oh but sweet little one you do want me to and in fact need me to go. It was hard to find the time and rhythm to start running but I had to; my family needed me to figure it out. And you know what my favourite part is? The mechanical voice on my running app I use on my phone as I run. It tells me my distance, speed and minutes per mile. I run a little faster and instantly smile like she’s telling me I’m amazing. It’s sad but true. She is just saying facts about my distance. It’s my crazy need for feedback. The music, the endorphins, the mechanical voice, the rush of accomplishment and energy culminate to a “happy meal” that does its job: a smile.

We can learn a lot from kids. Yeah a “happy meal” might not leave your core being truly satisfied but maybe the more moments of happiness you have the more likely the deep happiness and even dare I say Joy might have a place to settle in your life. Happiness doesn’t have to be bought, but if it is and it brings you relief and a smile I am okay with that. Who knows what that might lead to…

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