And I sat and I sat and I sat and waited for a particular brand of happy that never came my way. Which made sense because I never found rich or flawless or finally collected one of all the things in the Universe. So I started to trek to find my own happiness, just in case it couldn't find me.
And then life happened to me. Real life. Struggle. Fear. Hot searing pain that pierced into my heart. I was so sad, not only about the circumstances but about the fact that my now imperfect life would never know happy again. I mourned the death of happy like it was a person. Or oxygen. How in the world are you supposed to find happy when you know certain imperfect circumstances in your life are never ever going to change? I didn't think happiness was an option in a world so flawed. But I was wrong.
Happiness is planting your feet firmly in the chaos of life and holding tight to a willingness to look for beauty. Happiness is not an absence of imperfection but the ability to overlook it in order to notice the good stuff. Look around - the formula for happiness is not all the riches in the world. It's not physical beauty or one of everything. It's not perfect health. It's not the things we buy or the way we look. Focusing on all of those things are actually distractions on the road to happy, and are unfortunately detours that some people never ever make it around. Don't let that happen to you. Choose happy. Be happy. Here are some simple ways to start.
Surround yourself with happy when you can. Happiness feeds (and therefore creates) more happy. Same with sadness. Pay attention to your focus. What and who are you filling yourself up with? Choose good things. Positive things. What are your triggers that bring you down? Maybe it's watching the News. Maybe it's Facebook or an energy sucking friend or family member. Stop doing things out of guilt or obligation with the people that make you feel bad. Take that happy back for yourself. Say no to the things that bring you down. When do you feel your best? Maybe it's while you are reading, or at church, or while running.
For me it's while taking pictures. I'm grateful for the way it makes me notice the beauty of light.
The way it melted its golden goodness on Parker made me feel so at peace. I was so happy I couldn't wait to share it with my camera.
Chasing light makes me so happy.
Spend HALF as much time taking care of yourself as you do bashing, second guessing, rushing, criticizing and cutting down. Organize your thoughts- challenge yourself into new ways of thinking.
When you start to ruminate or obsess- just think STOP. Refocus. Focus on solutions, not problems. Psychologist David Lykken believes we can absolutely pursue happiness. We can do this by thwarting negative emotions such as pessimism, resentment, and anger. And we can foster positive emotions, such as empathy, serenity, and especially gratitude. We can do this every damn day from the moment we wake up.
Make time for a hobby. If you don't have one try many on for size. If you have that figured out do something to contribute to it daily. Whether it's three minutes or thirty. Make time for you. Guilt free time. It's not selfish it's self preservation. It's a gorgeous reminder that life is not all obligation- it's also adventure. The more time you give to you the more it creates for others. Spend five extra minutes getting ready in the morning as an investment in you. Look around and practice grateful just for YOU. Not for Facebook. Not to show others: I'm so blessed. But just to FEEL. I read an article about a young woman with cystic fibrosis who was getting married. Life expectancy of those with this disease is improving, but many die in their 20's and 30's. Breathing is extremely difficult and often painful. They have to use oxygen. After I read this I just sat there in awe of the fact that I have working lungs. It's an amazing gift and one that I take for granted. Reading about other's struggles helps me remember how much I have to be grateful for.
Do things for other without expecting anything in return. Help people. A million different people in tiny different ways. I know, I know- you are busy. But we trick ourselves into thinking what we do must be big or expensive or elaborate and time consuming to make a difference. That's just not true. It can be tiny. Drag the neighbors trash cans up their curb on trash day. Wave cars in the lane in front of you and stop being in such a damn hurry, bring a teacher an apple, push someones grocery cart back to the store for them. Little. Tiny. Daily things. They are like prayers with legs ,trickling forward and changing the world.
Go practice happy. Happy like it's your job and you are damned good at it. Don't sit and wait for it- go and create it now.