Seeking Happiness Today: Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

Sunset

People sometimes mistake our happiness, our joy, our excitement over life as fake.  Like, no way living with 12 kids could be fun.  Or, no way living in a dilapidated RV can be fulfilling.  They just don’t understand.

We’ve been accused of being fake, of being reckless and crazy, of being selfish, of being wealthy, of being on welfare, of being breeders, of single-handedly ruining the earth’s ozone, of being religious nuts, of destroying neighborhood market values and so forth and so on.

Seek Happiness, in all you do, you only have one life!
Happiness comes in all forms, for us, this is exactly what happiness looks like. Photo: Susie Kellogg

Truth be told, it used to bother me. The worst was the backlash we received after taking a photo for the front page of the Tampa Bay Times.  Lord have mercy.  We were vilified.

This photo, in which the photographer said, “Be neutral.” was proof positive that our kids were positively miserable. I guess the consensus, among posters, was that we were caught off guard for this photo.  Like it was a natural stance we all took, we stand and sit like that ALL the time and the photographer clicked the photo … “Gotcha, Kellogg’s.”

Oh man, that burned me.  I wanted to take out a full page ad explaining the situation.  Today, three years later, that full page ad would not explain, it would simply consist of my middle finger and nothing else. {gasp!} {Does Susie really do that?}

You see, we’ve grown.  We don’t need anyone to understand.  We don’t internalize negativity. We slough it off, we avoid it like the plague.  I know you all have family and friends that are infected.  We all do.  Their negativity destroys joy and we made a conscious decision to not allow anyone to steal our joy.

Now, I’ll tell you this, it’s way easier for certain members of our family, than others.  Dan and Grady are affected NOT at all.  Me (and a few others), well I can be infected, so I just know to tune it out, in whatever form it comes.

But, the crazy thing is, we all kinda understand where it all comes from.  It’s hard for many to understand that we chase happiness and joy like they chase money and status.

I mean 20 years ago, in the heat of our “climbing the corporate ladder days”, if we saw YouTube videos of a crazy family running the gnar in kayaks, or living in an RV, or getting kicked out of Walmart, I wonder what I would have thought?

I would love to think we’d have seen the light, so to speak and been like, totally inspired.  But, I don’t know.  Dan was always there, I think, he was more liberated. But me?  I might have looked down on the me of 2017.  It’s possible that I might have thought living in an RV was totally unacceptable, that homeschooling was bizarre, that kids kayaking was irresponsible and that being rich meant having money and stuff.

I don’t think I could blame the us of 1997.  We were doing what we were told we had to do, “paying our dues.”  We were in our early 20’s we had three kids, we owned a house, we had a nice brand new Dodge Grand Caravan, and we had extra cash to vacation.

I can’t really blame the us of ’97, though.  Our snobbery wasn’t really our fault.  Since we were babies we were told what we needed to do to be “successful”.  And we were doing it.  But, ya’ll there is a huge void between successful and happy.  We were successful, or as successful as 23 year olds can be.  But we were restless as hell.

It wasn’t until we watched a Warren Miller film one night in 2000 that it hit us.  We wanted that life.  We wanted the excitement and the joy that came with the life of a ski bum.  We wanted to not be separated all day living alternate lives, only coming together as a family at night and on the weekends.  We wanted fun. We wanted us.

Seeking happiness means doing whatever it takes to live the life you've always wanted.
When we moved to Colorado, we had dreams of our kids growing up on the slopes. Photo: Susie Kellogg

This corporate crap was not for us.  At all.  So the next day, literally we didn’t miss a beat.  The next day we put our house up for sale By Owner and started the process of figuring out what ski town to move to.  Within 30-days we were on our way to Colorado, sight unseen with 5 kids in tow.  This was fun! It was exciting. It was crazy.

Now, fun might be an idea that the majority of adults scorn.  You, even, may find the idea of fun, somewhat lacking of responsibility, of maturity.  But, I swear, it’s a necessary part of life.  Why turn your life upside down and wipe fun out of your lives because you reached a certain age, or because you got married or had kids.  This last reason, being a parent, is the most important of all to have fun … with your kids!

You see, you guys, the people I know that put fun in the background of their lives to concentrate on adulting are nothing short of miserable.  Their lives are in shambles because they are focusing on the wrong things … success, money, prestige, respect and assumed power.

These people wake at the same time every day, eat the same thing for breakfast every day, make the same commute to work every day, work the same job, talk to the same people, take the same lunch break, every day.  And, the weekends, that they look forward to all week?  Well the weekends consist of fixing up the house, or working in the yard or running all the errands they don’t have time for during the week.

I know a lot of it is perceived as necessary, and truth be told, yeah, sometimes you gotta get shiot done.  But every weekend? Really?

And, how bout our obsession with nice cars, fancy houses, luxury vacations, and stuff? It’s all a smoke screen. It’s literally all a bunch of junk you don’t need that you use to impress yourself or, worse, people you might not even like.

Are you (not YOU, per se) happy? Does stuff make you happy? Does it make your life exciting and joyous?  Do you wake up in the morning with anticipation?  Or is it more dread?

I just feel happy that I learned what it actually means to “be rich” sooner, rather than later.

Now, every once in a blue moon, I might feel an inkling of envy, over a luxury RV or friends who can eat out endlessly without worry.  But, you know what, I eventually realize what it would take to have those “things”, 40+ hour work weeks, and I’m brought back to my happy space, cuz I don’t now or ever want to work my butt off, sacrifice my family, my friends, my life for stuff.

And, as a constant reminder, I have this quote on my phone …

“You can be rich by having more than you need, or by needing less than you have” – Tony Robbins

And this quote on my computer …

“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.”  Henry David Thoreau

It’s a constant reminder that being rich has absolutely nothing to do with money or possessions.  It has to do with a mindset and a lifestyle, building memories and experiences.

Seeking Happiness at the Snoqualmie Falls!!
Travel makes up happy too. It keeps us guessing and filled with wonderment. Photo: Susie Kellogg

Some of the richest people are the unhappiest.  Take Hollywood, for example. Alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, divorce, etc. plagues the most glamorous of people.

And, on the other hand, some of those with the least are the happiest, most joyous.

I am currently writing this on the side of the river, leaning up against my kayak, the air cool, the sun warm.  My kids are both in the river kayaking with Dan and on the shore playing with little foam boats they built themselves.  I think, how the heck am I so lucky?  So very blessed? So blissfully happy?

Everything I need fits in a 36′ RV.  My kids, my husband, a few laptops for work and school, some clothes, our Jackson kayaks, surfboards, Shaboomee SUP’s and a few cameras to capture all the memories we are making and will cherish when we are older.

I’ve realized my purpose in life is not to leave a fortune, but rather, a legacy.  I want to build something that outlives me, I want to leave something not FOR my family, but IN my family.  This is so much harder that creating an amass of wealth, it means following your heart and living without regret.

Gary Vaynerchuck advises that everyone visit a nursing home.  To go in and talk to the men and women who reside there.  You will find, he says, an unequal proportion of those with regrets as opposed to those without.  There are those without regret who are content, they are happy, they have decades of memories.  And, those with regret who are riddled with guilt and desire for what they didn’t do.  His message is clear … as day.

And man oh man am I trying.

But so many of us are seemingly stuck in an endless cycle.  We all work to pay our bills and buy more than we can afford because our idea of being rich is kinda messed up.

I know this, I had the same exact views, I was totally screwed up too.  We went into exorbitant debt, we spent more and more and more trying to achieve success according to those around us … blasted society.  LOL

It doesn’t have to be this way.  There are steps you can take to be truly rich by actually having less.  First, spend less than you earn.  That’s simple, yet pretty darn hard to follow.  Second, collect experiences instead of things.  Get out and do things NOW.  Don’t wait until you have more money, or until the kids are older or you are retired.

I can tell you one thing for certain … you are not guaranteed time.  You are not guaranteed a future.  You have today. You have now.  Be grateful and take advantage of this only guarantee in life.

Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Seeking Happiness

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