'Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling.'
Margaret Lee Runbeck, Author, 1905-1956
Have you noticed how words and phrases creep into our everyday language? New words and phrases always reflect the latest ways of doing things. They can even make us re-think our thinking.
If you were to think back a few years, would you have Googled something you wanted to know? Would you have tagged your best friend on Facebook? Would you have known what a property or a career ladder was? LOL.
Having it all is a phrase that crept in somewhere around the same time as all those property and career ladders. Having it all became the mantra of the people I grew up with. We were meant to be ambitious, travel, buy at least one house, have a child or two, know what to wear and when to wear it, drive the right car, keep in shape, not grow any older than about 29, cook like a gourmet and have a great love life.
Having seen how having it all has worked out for the people I know, I have noticed this: Nobody I know has it all, not even remotely. Everyone has bits of their life that others may envy - a successful career, a great house, children, a good relationship, supportive friendships, health or wealth, style or charm. And they all have parts of their lives that range from tricky to impossible - a loss of some kind, a failure of sorts, a broken relationship or an outsize mountain to climb.
Here's a case in point. Nicola Horlick. Nicola is a successful career woman, she has fond memories of a childhood spent in a large house backing onto a golf course, a stone's throw from a gorgeous white sandy beach. Her father was a mover and shaker, a king maker. Their house was always filled with good conversation and intriguing people. Nicola studied law at Oxford and by this time you are probably thinking she lived happily ever after with her perfect life. Except she has this to say:
I don't understand how people can say I 'have it all'. I had an incredibly sick child for 10 years who died of leukaemia. I don't have Georgie, so I can't possible have it all.' Nicola Horlick, CEO Bramdean, Management Today
That's a heck of a way to find out you can't 'have it all'.
So if we aren't going to have it all, what do we have at all? Maybe more compassion, more humility, more wisdom. Less judgment and more kindness. We may come to realize that even those we think have it made, don't. Maybe we can become more appreciative of the beauty to be found in the moment. Know when enough is enough.
Do we know what enough really means? According to Thesaurus.com it means 'something that can fulfil a need or requirement without being abundant.
"Would that there were an award for people who come to understand the concept of enough. Good enough. Successful enough. Thin enough. Rich enough. Socially responsible enough..."
So says Gail Sheehy, a respected investigative journalist and Vanity Fair contributing editor who saw her husband through a 17 year battle with cancer
If we aren't going to have it all, what do we? We have the opportunity to re-think our thinking. Because the journey towards happiness, fulfilment or peace is not to be found in the station we arrive at, but in the manner in which we decide to travel.