Why is important to choose happiness? Should happiness really need to take work and effort? Isn’t happiness something that should just come easily to us if things are going well in life? I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the why and how of what happiness means for us homosepians. Researching happiness has actually added to my happiness, believe it or not! I've gained more awareness and insight, and the growth I've gained and tools I've learned have been truly impactful. I hope they can be for you too.
Speaking of awareness and insight, I’ll begin with a popular story that was floating around the ol’ net a few years ago. It was about this elderly woman who lost her husband, lost her home, lost her eyesight and had to move into a nursing home. As they brought this woman, who had experienced such loss, to her new dwelling, the way she responded to her new surroundings is truly inspiring. Her new home was a single, simple room with no more than a twin-sized bed, a bedside table and a lamp. Yet, a smile lit up her entire face and she blurted out: “It’s perfect; I love it!” Remember, the old woman was blind… physically blind, however she was rich with emotional insight. (See what I did there? InSIGHT?) ;)
As we’ve moved from a beautiful home we built to a much smaller home, as I've experience the challenge of moving to a place of less, and all the changes that come with it, I’ve been pondering this story of the old woman. She had every reason to curl up in a ball on the bed in her new room and wail about how much she hated her new home. The way she chose to handle herself is the astounding part. She knew her happiness laid in her own hands, she knew that secret - that happiness is what you make of it… it’s a choice. If you choose to embrace happiness, you have an amazing opportunity to enjoy life to it’s fullest. And that's what I've been doing. I've been embracing the new, the unfamiliar, the changes brought about by our move. In doing so, I'm met with a huge sense of peace and freedom. Freedom to... just be happy. Right where I'm at today.
In my research, brain-storming and soul-searching, I’ve come up with 5 major reasons why it’s important that we choose happiness:
1. Happiness is not circumstantial. Happiness is not a result of the perfect situation, finding Mr. or Mrs. Right, finally getting that one thing - newest car, best house, the most trendy capsule wardrobe… it’s not about getting that job you always strived for, having the perfect body, and it’s also not about reaching financial success. Just take a second to think about a few examples on how circumstances does not equal happiness:
Movie stars. Fame and fortune. You know the story.
All the lottery winners that reported they actually aren’t happier than they were before they won the jackpot.
The pageant winners who couldn’t be more naturally gorgeous, yet have a problem with bulemia. (I’m not bashing on pageant-ers; I was once one myself. More on that later.)
The high-powered CEO’s that have money, power, a beautiful family, 13 cars, 5 homes, 2 yachts, a small island, and a partridge in a pear tree… yet they also have addictions to alcohol, drugs, porn, and/or numerous affairs and... they are just dying on the inside.
Kate Spade. She was a woman who appeared to “have it all”; she was a wife and mother, she built an empire out of her own creativity, had the beauty of the girl next door, and boku bucks to boot. Although I will never know the finite details of why she arrived at her timely end, it was clear that she was completely miserable and my heart broke for her and her loved ones after hearing she’d taken her own life.
I’m sure you get the idea. It isn’t that one thing or 1 million things that bring you deep, lasting happiness. Happiness is a state of mind. A choice. A lifestyle. A muscle to be sculpted over time with lots and lots of practice. I can’t say it simply enough:
Your happiness is completely up to you.
2. Happiness (along with positivity) helps you reach your goals in life. Why? Mainly because people who know and understand true, deep happiness know that it’s not about reaching that goal. It’s about the journey along the way. EnJOYing the experience and the process. But, ya know it’s also pretty darn satisfying when you DO reach that goal you’ve worked so hard for. And enjoying the process will bring so much sweet satisfaction to your soul when you do reach that goal.
3. Choosing happiness is a wonderful way to love your friends and family. When you’re happy, your happiness rubs off on them or even just makes them happy too! Happy people are contagious. The saying is true: “If Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.” It’s true if you flip that too. If Mama’s happy, everybody’s happy. (Of course, this is a generalization; family units have varying degrees of complexity.) However, we all know how that when someone in the family wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, their attitude can negatively affect the entire family. And that can sometimes carry-out through the whole day. Super bummer, that. If that same person who woke up on the wrong side of the bed can practice self-awareness and engage tools to get out of that funk and into some light, then he or she can also practice a type of communal love by doing something hard but helpful that positively affects the whole family. (Btw, yes I’m aware that I have run-on sentences at times. Haha! I’m ok with that. I’d rather write the way I speak to best convey my thoughts to you.)
4. Happiness is our fundamental right as human beings on this planet, Twilo. I mean Earth. (My brain is stuck on that one Dick Van Dyke episode when Laura turned into an alien who only ate walnuts, hailing from the Plant Twilo with Danny Thomas as their leader. One of the best Dick Van Dyke episodes EVER.) ANYWAY… back here on Earth, I believe that our most innate purpose in life is to ENJOY it. Yes, it’s true that there are other important purposes to this life. It’s complex, just like us Twilo-ites…. I mean humans. But, what is life without joy? Without happiness? Purpose-less if you ask me. Everyone deserves happiness. Let me repeat that:
EVERYONE. DESERVES. HAPPINESS.
5. Happiness can help bring about world peace. Now before you think I’m so high up in the clouds on some sort of happy pill, hear me out. Since we are all connected through the energy we pass on to one another (be it a smile or a middle finger, etc.), we, in our own small, individual way can have a positive affect on the world. Do you remember that old-ish movie called “Pay it Forward” with Helen Hunt where one person did something kind and selfless and when the person wanted to repay them, they simply told them to “pay it forward”? You know, that movie? Ok, if you don’t know that one, there’s an idea for you for movie night. Anyway, if you think of using your positive energy (by choosing happiness) to “pay it forward”, then you can affect those around you who then affect those around them, and so-on and so-on. What’s that saying by Mother Theresa? Oh!
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.”- Mother Theresa
The stone is that unique joy and happiness that only you can bring to the world, and with that happiness, you can create ripples of positivity across the seven seas and beyond.
So, really at the end of the day, what is life without happiness? What is purpose without joy? Is it possible to be happy even when life isn't going the way we plan, is boring, challenging, hard, messy, complicated, etc? Yes. It is possible to CHOOSE joy in the uncertainty, the challenges, the changes, the ebbs and flows, and even the mundane tasks we do… doing dishes, doing homework, paying bills, paying taxes, running errands, running the kid’s bath, wiping noses, wiping tushies, enduring the daily grind at work or grinding your daily coffee… It IS possible to enjoy our lives even more than we already are, even in the midst of the everyday. ESPECIALLY in the midst of the everyday. That’s where life resides - in the simple joys- in the here and now. An oldie but goodie song just popped in my head that fits perfectly here… Shane and I just looked it up, and listened to it three times in a row, really listening to the words. It's "Live for Today" by Grass Roots. Their hit song offers simple wisdom in the lyrics:
“When I think of all the worries people seem to find
And how they're in a hurry to complicate their mind
By chasing after money and dreams that can't come true
I'm glad that we are different, we've better things to do
May others plan their future, I'm busy lovin' you (1-2-3-4)
Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today
Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today
And don't worry 'bout tomorrow, hey, hey, hey
Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today
Live for today” …
Why is it important to CHOOSE happiness? Because you can enjoy your life, today, just that much more. How much more is up to you.
If you want to get your groove on with that Grass Roots song, here’s a link for you with the lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGxAmQazAxE Get jiggy with it; dance with that broom, belt out those lyrics or just close your eyes and listen. Whatever floats your happiness boat.
As always -
Have a beautiful day,
P.S. My next blog post will be about: "How to choose happiness". It'll be chalk-full of practical ways you can take charge of your happiness TODAY.
P.S.S. This blog post pertains to basic life. If you are experiencing a tragedy, loss, depression, postpartum issues, etc., then just know that to everything there is a season. The once constant: change. Be gentle with yourself. Recognize the season you're in is a normally-human part of life you're experiencing, but it doesn't mean you'll feel this way forever. You will get through this. There are happier days ahead. And when those happy days do come, the perspective you've gained through your trials CAN reflect in the overabundant joy you will feel and know in your heart.