We try really hard to keep a clean house, and it doesn’t seem like our effort is enough.

It doesn’t matter that we clean the house every day. It doesn’t matter that we give the girls rules about picking up after themselves. Toys are still EVERYWHERE, sprouting up from the tile floor like weeds after a big rain.

I’ve watched this problem closely because–well, because it annoys me–and I think I know what the problem is. Kids lose interest in their toys. It’s that simple.

I try to get the girls hyped about these toys, and it never seems to work. I want them to enjoy these toys as much as they did on the day they were unwrapped at Christmas or at their birthday party.

It only seems right. The toys haven’t changed. They aren’t broken. They are the same toys as they were on their first day out of the package!

(At least if they played with the toys, I would have some proof that they belong here and they’re not just trashing my house.)

Then I look at my own life as an adult and realize that I’m pretty much the same way. I’ve lost interest in almost everything that I’ve ever bought.

There was a time where I thought that this iPad and the Bluetooth keyboard that I’m typing on right now were really awesome. I was excited about life because I had these cool new things. Now I completely take them for granted. I could point at any object in my house, and the story is the same: it was really cool, and now it’s just okay.

Are people damned to lose interest in it all?

There has to be a way out of this. Because it seems like we’re all doomed to be disappointed with life here.

There are extreme examples of this, stories that we can all tell. Stories of spoiled brats who take it all for granted. If you have good friends around you, they’ll call you out if you get too spoiled and bratty.

I don’t think this is the real problem. There’s a more subtle version of dissatisfaction that can take over your life. It can clog up your thoughts and weigh you down.

For example, right now I’m really disappointed in my front and back yard. For whatever reason, the summer grass didn’t grow in evenly, and it looks rough. There are rangy patches of yellow brown grass that seem to be devouring the green. It’s hard to be proud of my yard when I swing into the driveway. I keep my curtains closed so I don’t have to look out at it. On my worse day, I’ll obsess over the grass and feel sorry for myself.

Rev Run posted on Instagram last week something like this: “The things we take for granted are the answers to other people’s prayers.”

Could my yard be the answer to someone else’s prayers? Of course. Grass? Dirt? Rocks? It doesn’t matter. There are countless number of parents around the world who dream about just having some wide opens space their kids to run and play. Far away from crime, war, and famine. My yard is paradise for them.

So why can’t I enjoy this yard as my paradise, even with its imperfections?

Get it together.

My sweet Stella has a hard time keeping her cool when she’s frustrated or when things don’t go her way. She’s only 3 years old, so none of this is a surprise. But when the tantrums hit, they hit HARD.

I try to be a good dad by getting down on her level and then patiently remind her not to be upset, but to take a breath and be patient with the situation…that kind of stuff.

I tend to feel good about myself when I act this way. I’m cool, calm, and collected. If a stadium of parents were surrounding me in that moment, they would lean into each other and nod with approval. Yes–that dad is one cool dude. Then we would have break-out sessions where I would give lectures on parenting through difficult times. I’d sign my parenting books and things like that.

But that will never happen because I’m only cool like this only half of the time. Not even that! Maybe 1 out of every 4 tantrums do I play it cool. The rest of the time I pitch a fit too. I lose my control. I bark at her and act disappointed.

My emotions are raw and real–but they don’t help me or my little daughter. It’s just two people pitching a fit. Except one person should know better.

Zoom out a little bit, and I realize that I’m just like Stella when I get frustrated or things don’t go my way. I don’t cry or roll around on the floor, but that’s what I’m doing that in my head. I get consumed by the situation and forget how wonderful life is around me. I can hear a dad voice speaking to me in those situations: “Don’t be upset… take a deep breath… be patient with the situation…”

If I listened to this voice, I would see how wonderful life really is. So what if can’t find the stylus to my iPad. So what if I have to go back to Home Depot to get a different paint brush? These are AWESOME problems to have!!

The only resolution here is to at least try to get better at this.

If I expect my kids to play with their old toys, then I need to enjoy my old stuff. I need to be proud of my shirts as I iron them and then hang them graciously in my closet. I need to feel special when I slip on those fancy Johnston and Murphy shoes, just like I did that first time I tried them on in the store. Those shoes felt magical then. Why would I deprive myself of that same joy every morning when I lace up my shoes for another big day?

Everywhere I look is something that should be appreciated again. Not just the material things. But I need to appreciate friends, family, loved ones. This city, this state, this nation.

I don’t think this is only about being consistent–telling my kids to act certain way only after I’ve proven to myself and everyone else that it can be done. It’s so much more than that!

This is really about deciding to be happy. It’s about being grateful for what you have, and to keep calm amidst the storms of life.