Kraemer girls Christmas 2017

Catherine Kraemer's daughters — from left to right — Emilia, Phoebe and Grace. 

“Happiness is not about what the world gives you. Happiness is about what you think about what the world gives you.”

I love a good Facebook video — especially the ones that cause me to snort-laugh, teach me a recipe I will never actually make, fill my monthly Sloth Video Quota or simply give me pause.

A few weeks ago, a friend posted a video of Google executive Mo Gawdat reflecting on happiness, expectations and reframing one’s perspective in order to find contentment. Gawdat had recently lost a son. And this particular friend, the one who’d posted the video, has also been dealt an unimaginably challenging hand — something she has handled with herculean strength and the grace of a thousand angels.

The video is brief but striking; an algorithmic version of the Serenity Prayer. I’ve watched it at least a dozen times since, and it’s inspired my personal theme for 2018: accepting life as it is, with grace and gratitude.

For all intents and purposes, my life objectively is really, really good. We have healthy kids. Matt and I have good jobs, loving families and fantastic friends. And yet, I can think of a thousand things I wish were different.

Some of these wishes are embarrassingly superficial — wants and imagined needs inspired by beautiful homes on Instagram and the seemingly perfect lives of people I don’t know. Others are legitimate but painfully impossible — the yearning to go back in time and bring back my brother. Bring back my dad. Reroute the path that life has taken and realign it with my vision of how things should be.

The hard truth is that there is no alternate universe where no one dies and no one worries, where my kids are dressed perfectly and my house is big and beautiful and clean. There is no "should be." There is only what is, right now. We can make changes, but we can also embrace what is and find gratitude in right now.

I learned recently, by way of one of the many self-improvement audiobooks I bought after a wine-fueled conversation with my wise and well-read sister-in-law, that I am an “obliger.” (Side note: Don’t drink and download unless you’re really ready to reflect on life.) Anyway, being an obliger means that I’m great at meeting outside deadlines, but not so great at achieving goals I set for myself. For me, resolutions are kind of a waste, but themes…themes are doable.

In the next 365 days, I’ll be working to reframe my perspective. To let go of what “should be,” and to love what is and be grateful for what I have – from my lovely family to my lukewarm coffee. To find happiness in a glass that’s full enough.

Let me know if you want in on this because no matter who you are or what you have, everyone has an unrealistic idea of the way life should be. And if you find any good sloth videos, preferably involving sloth babies wrapped tenderly in tiny blankets, please send them my way.


Catherine Kraemer writes twice a month for She and her husband, Matt, are the parents of three young girls – Emilia, 5, Grace, 3 and Phoebe, 1. Originally from St. Louis, Catherine lives in Omaha and works at a local advertising agency.

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