Perhaps you know Tolstoy’s saying “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” A friend of mine once pointed out that it’s really the opposite: unhappiness is what’s boring and monotonous. Suffering is suffering, no matter how you package it. But happiness, ha! Happiness can be quiet togetherness, raucous laughing, deep sharing of purpose… Happiness is never boring, never the same.
My husband quoted our friend’s take on Tolstoy while writing about the picture you see on this post. And I remember being struck by seeing these words juxtaposed with our picture. I was almost surprised, taken aback. “It’s true, we are a happy family,” I internally confirmed, a little unsure of myself. It felt strange to say these words. Even to myself. I didn’t grow up in a happy family, so there was also a sense of accomplishment: “Yes, I did it! I have a happy family!!” Do you know that feeling? The “looking around at your life and thinking, wow I came a long way” feeling?
Happiness is not the same as perfection or the lack of suffering. We’re plenty imperfect, and we have our share of frustrated, angry, worried, sad, tense, and straight up unhappy moments. But there’s also no doubt we’re happy. We have deep loving care, trust, joy, connection, gratitude. Here’s one image that comes to mind when I think about happiness: my daughters Maayan and Sasha hugging and dancing and chanting “I love you.” Would you share one happy family moment?