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Living in Harmony

Somebody said to me the other day, “I really love my life and wouldn’t change it.  But if I had to swap my life for somebody’s, I’d pick yours.  I know you work really hard, but you all just always look so happy.”  And this was from somebody who knows “real life PJ” and not just “internet PJ” which made it an even bigger compliment because we all know that we put our best foot forward online.

Nigerian Dwarf Buckling, "Treble"

She made me think about why I always look so happy to this person.  Afterall, I’m just like most other moms.  There are plenty of times I’m tired, cranky, and short-tempered.

After a little bit of thought, I concluded that my ultimate happiness springs from my relationship with God.  Without my faith in Jesus, I wouldn’t be able to put most of the “unpleasant” experiences in my life into perspective.  I have a joy that springs from my relationship with my Savior and I hope that shines through.

A few days after the conversation, I was doing some reading on finances and I came across this happiness quote and it reminded me of the conversation I mentioned.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
Mahatma Gandhi

And since I’d recently been thinking of happiness, it made me stop and think about whether or not I agreed with the quote.  My thoughts immediately jumped to how we run our business.

When we started Goat Milk Stuff, the one thing Jim and I said was most important to us was being authentic.  We wanted to make sure that we never put on a facade in front of others.  I never wanted to be one way in front of my children and another in front of potential customers.  I never wanted to sell something that I wouldn’t use myself.

And I’d like think that I’ve done a pretty good job living up to that goal of being authentic.  Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that I don’t ever lose my temper with my children when I wouldn’t lose my temper with my customers.  There are times when I do that.  I’m very far from perfect, but when I fail I always immediately apologize to my children and repair that relationship.

I remember one instance in particular.  Indigo usually gets our voicemails and writes them down on a Google doc.  She calls back the ones she can and then I do the rest.

Indigo Checks Voicemail

She was retrieving the voicemails one day and her eyes went wide.  She handed the phone to me and I listened to a bunch of expletives on the voicemail.  The guy was a truck driver who had stopped at our farm on the Fourth of July when we were closed.  I had forgotten to change our voicemail message to read that we were closed on the Fourth so when he called to check if we were open, the message didn’t say we weren’t so he stopped.  He was really angry when he left the message and let us know it.

I was really angry that my daughter had listened to all those curse words.

But I took a deep breath, recognized that it was my fault for not changing the phone message (which caused him to waste his time stopping by when we were closed) and called him back.  He didn’t answer and so I left a very polite message apologizing for my error and giving him options for resolution.

To be perfectly honest, being polite on that call was really, really hard for me and made me quite unhappy having to do it.  What I wanted to do was call him back and chew him out for leaving expletives on my voicemail.  But I didn’t because “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Do you know why I responded the way I did even though it made me temporarily unhappy to speak those words?  Because Indigo was watching me.  And teaching her the right way to handle difficult people was more important to me than venting my frustration.

Because in the short-term with the customer in mind…

What I think = You are rude and were wrong to leave that message.
What I say = I am sorry for my error that caused your frustration.
What I do = Don’t be rude back to him.

… may have caused me temporary unhappiness.  But the long-term with Indigo in mind…

What I think = Indigo needs to learn how to deal with difficult people in a Christ-like way.
What I say = Indigo, people are going to talk to you improperly at times, recognize it’s not always all about you.
What I do = Model the right behavior instead of giving into my frustration.

… made me very happy because parenting intentionally is super important to me.

Gandhi’s quote captures the essence of both authenticity and integrity (which I’m always talking to my children about).  I define them for the children as, integrity is doing the right thing even when nobody is watching and authenticity is being genuine or “what you see is what you get”.

I admit that I’ve always thought that it’s important to be authentic and have integrity because it is the right thing to do and because it is what God wants from us.  I’ve never thought of it in terms of bringing us happiness.

But perhaps it does to some extent.  After all, I think it must be completely exhausting to think one way and have to say and/or do something completely different.  I’m still not convinced that is how I would define happiness, but I’ll take whatever happiness being authentic brings!

What about you?  Do you agree or disagree with Gandhi’s quote?