07/06/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

A Tribute to Mothers

And How I Got So 'Happy'

Since when did 'happiness' become a life goal, an emotional destiny to achieve?

All of a sudden, everything 'happiness' scatters the blog and book landscape - happiness indexes, happiness economics, happiness projects and programs, happiness research, collections of 'happy' quotes. Happy, happy, happy.

I'm suspicious. Is happiness the carrot in front of the horse? I question the premise of the Happy Movement, the premise, "If I do this ___________, then I'll be happy."

What is there to achieve in 'happiness' if we are at peace, contented, and fulfilled? Isn't life enhanced when we feel contented and fulfilled, backed by a positive attitude and positive outlook on life?

I'm told that people think of me as resilient and positive, and I'm often asked how I acquired and remain so contented. I never thought about it much until I started receiving requests to speak on the topics of resilience and the power of positive attitude.

Since I don't believe much in absolute truths, all I know is what works for me. Though people ask me how I'm so happy, I never pay much attention to happiness. I do pay a lot of attention to feeling contented and fulfilled. Enriched, satisfied, positive, and resilient. It's this path that gets me to the 'happy' that I'm asked about.

From where I come from, with all the pieces that make me who I am, my survival (beyond just staying alive!) depended on my outlook on life.

One example: I can look at my birth in prison and all the circumstances that got me there and which then followed me, along with multiple mother separations, as irreconcilable and damaging wounds. Each could be a gash that won't heal. One after the other. Or I can appreciate my enigma, these unique and rare roots, as a chance to reach out and turn what was adverse, with all the set backs, into a positive tool for change.

I'm a fan of adventure, a thrill-seeker with an insatiable curiosity and appetite for learning. Along the way I recognized I was served a full plate, and it's only right to share when we have abundance.

Once called a special needs child and at-risk girl, I had too much on my plate. Rather than an abundance of negative, I began to wonder how I could use what landed in my lap as a way to give to others. How and what I do to give is another article.

But I believe in using my highly creative energy to innovate, build, and create, in many forms. Whether it's writing, marketing, speaking, inventing, or program and business development, the roots are the same: creative adventure and abundance to share with others, all as a positive tool for change.

If I had sought happiness throughout my rocky road, I'd never have bounced up with the resilience that is now ingrained in me as a worldview. I'm contented, no matter the circumstances around me, and yes, happy. But 'happy' is not my goal. It's simple to feel happy when we're contented.

I'm lucky to hold my station of contentment and joie de vivre. Some of it may have to do with being multiracial. According to a recent study, multiracial people are generally happier than most.

My curiosity about the 'happy' movement led me to learn there's even research about happiness. (Can't a person just live, without a social and academic movement with books and research to justify the experience?) It seems like the happy gurus and happiness movement guide draws followers to seek a felt experience associated with pleasure.

I'm all for pleasure and fun. In fact, I'm probably one of the more playful pleasure-filled people you'll meet. And I don't even drink or drug to get there! I get there by way of my positive attitude and outlook, feeling at ease with myself, contented and fulfilled.

What does any of this have to with honoring mothers in this May, the month of Mother's Day? Everything. Mothers are our source. I've had several mothers, the early ones just briefly, then my Mother, the one who stood by me no matter what.

At one time I viewed the influences of so many mothers as a conflict within me. Now they all walk beside me. From each I've learned to seek and live:

• Enriched
• Satisfied
• Positive
• Resilient

My Mother is the source of my on-going ability to feel enriched, satisfied, positive, and resilient. She is one of the reasons I can pass this on to my children, and to others around me.

Now that I look around, happiness is quite simple. In a forthcoming post, I'll list my simple tools for contented and enriched living.

For a start, I just put one foot in front of the other and make sure to do what fulfills, what is gratifying, and what contributes to others.

What gives you contentment and fulfillment?

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This is another Musing for Mutts Like Me.

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Email: deborah.kjs [at] gmail [dot] com

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