I used to feel that happiness came from outside of myself. If someone gave me a puppy, or if I won the lottery, or if someone took me to Hawaii, I knew I would be happy. As I have grown older, I have learned that happiness comes when we notice precious moments — for example, the person who thanks me for a small act of kindness, the feeling of sunshine on my back, the birth of my baby, and the smile on my husband’s face when he looks at me. These experiences spread a feeling of warmth and love that tingles throughout my body. Happiness is the common denominator.
As I anticipate the celebration of our 55th wedding anniversary, I feel the soft energy of happiness enveloping me. Years ago, I discovered that my life is filled with happy moments. It took me 76 years to articulate what I notice every day. Happiness fills my world, if I take the time to recognize it.
Having six children made for a hectic life. Sometimes I was too busy to notice that I lived in a beautiful house with healthy, boisterous children, purchased by my dedicated husband, who worked very hard, yet still made time to coach our kids in soccer and baseball.
In 1980, I began to study more about the mind-body connection. Learning how my thoughts created mental and physical reactions was a new concept for me. I took many classes on the power of the mind. I discovered that I could create my own happiness as easily as I could sabotage it. I learned how to recognize and be grateful for the happiness I had, instead of focusing on negativity.
Noticing my blessings began with meditation. Consistent meditation helped me slow down my mind, which allowed me to appreciate the good in my life. Taking yoga classes helped me to slow down my body, while giving me physical flexibility. Flexibility was just what my mind needed. My narrow-minded thinking put people and ideas in negative categories. I still believed that happiness was in the future. I felt that when I had time to myself, and the resources to do things other than the wash, carpool and pay bills, I could be happy.
Gradually, as I studied metaphysics and the mind-body-spirit connection, I discovered that butterflies in my garden and a cup of tea with a friend are true happiness. I lightened up. I loosened up. In many ways, I grew up.
Now that I am in my seventies, I look back with awe at all the moments of happiness that were given to me that I didn’t notice then, but I do notice today: the clouds in a blue sky; my own good health; the love of six children and 13 grandchildren. I regret that it took me so long to comprehend the true meaning and feeling of happiness. Today I have a gratitude journal to keep track of my blessings. I use it to remember the happy moments, especially on days that are challenging.
Happiness doesn’t negate difficult, even tragic events in my life. Twelve years ago, we lost our daughter to suicide. She was a beautiful woman who dealt with autism in one of her sons. Cyndi’s many challenges overwhelmed her, and her death gutted all of us who knew and loved her. Nevertheless, I have learned to remember the moments of happiness she gave us, from her own easy birth to her golden hair and compassionate heart. It doesn’t take away the pain of her death, but it keeps me from staring at the black spot of tragedy on the white paper of her beautiful life. We shared many wonderful moments of happiness in her 40 years of life. She also left us two beautiful grandsons whom we love very much. Focusing on those blessings has helped to heal my broken heart.
Happiness comes in many packages. My prayer is that you see happiness in every possibility and create happiness when given the chance. Before you know it, you, too, could be looking back at the happy moments you missed! Don’t waste a moment!