…is a phrase that ends children’s stories.  No need to worry about what comes next.  The good guys get rewarded, the bad guys are either gone or have learned their lessons, and all is right with the world.  No more work, no more struggle, no more heavy lifting, just bliss and happiness and playtime forever.  Yay!!!

Mix this phrase with adult life and you either get sarcasm and irony as things continue to be unfair and whirl out of control in the chaos that is real life or you find someone working feverishly at being the good guy and waiting for happily ever after to come.  Add a dash of “woe is me” as desired.  This isn’t to say that people are naïve or uncomprehending, that we should all get over wanting to be happy and that life is miserable and we should all just get over it.  Adult life is not meant to be bleak and a misery any more than it’s meant to be a fairytale.  In between that is true happiness which comes, not as a reward for winning a game, succeeding against the odds, or having prodigious luck, through creating the happy life we want to have.

Instead of happily ever after, the adult story should end, “then he/she got to create the life they wanted to live and invited the ones they loved to join them in the adventure”.  Each intrepid adventurer/adult should be allowed to wade through the process of healing old hurts, learning necessary lessons, becoming clear about who they are now, who they would like to become, and the first of many possibilities on how to get there from here.  That’s where the first novel ends, because adults most often read big books, but there is a sequel, the life he/she created that makes them happy.  If we stop waiting for it to be awarded to us and instead start making it for ourselves, I think we’ll like the story better and I know our lives will be amazingly happier no matter the eventual outcome.