Tip/Thought of the Day

Happiness Is A Choice

It has taken me years to fully appreciate, happiness is a choice. How many times have we convinced ourselves that if we were slimmer, prettier, healthier, younger, wiser, taller, wealthier, more successful, loved … we’d be happier?

We have every excuse in the book why we’re unhappy. It’s not our fault, it’s due to circumstances out of our control. We’re surrounded by so much turmoil, uncertainty and anxiety, how can we possibly be happy?

And then I heard it wonderfully portrayed in a country song (yes, once again I admit, deep down, I’m just a country girl) – “A Beautiful Life” by Austin Alllsap.

”Happiness is an easy thing to find 
It’s all around if you open your eyes.
It’s the kids in the yard 
And Momma making ice cold tea.
It’s not a house, it’s a home
with our love brewed in deep
It’s a baby girl with a big wide smile 
Who grows and has her own beautiful child.
It’s knowing right from wrong, 
Showing constant respect.
Saying what you mean
And practicing what we preach.
That’s what a beautiful life means to me.”

There’s no diminishing the hardships and challenges we face from a multitude of sources- financial, health, family, home, or employment. When all our focus is on the harried and frenzied aspects of each day, too often what really matters gets lost or ignored. It’s wonderful to push ourselves to improve, challenge and seek out more than we have. That’s what spurs us to greater heights. But in that mix there has to be a balance. One that encourages pride in what we’ve already achieved and all we have attained.

When there’s turbulence swirling all around us we need to find an anchor in the midst of the storm. Like the calming eye of the tornado we need to turn to those things that give us a sense of stability and comfort. Not just the knowledge that the sun will surely come out tomorrow and descend in the sky tomorrow night. But the belief that each new day brings hope and opportunities.

Remembering that while we’re marking time, waiting for the bad to pass, other precious things pass too. Children grow up and get immersed in their own lives and issues. We grow older and people move on, leaving only treasured memories.

What I’d have given to understand the signs of dementia my father exhibited at age 62 would quickly rob him of his mind and dignity, leaving him a mere shell when he died a few years later. Knowing I’d never see my 45 year old sister again when she didn’t survive a “routine” surgery. Or my 44 year old brother defeating a rare tumor in his groin, to be taken shortly after from its cure- radiation to the nearby bone.

I can’t rewrite the past. I can stop thinking – ”we can talk or get together anytime” before weeks or months pass by and finding out to my horror- “No, we can’t.” I can see my family as a reminder my hour glass is filled with only so much sand. Spending time enmeshed in craziness is the true tragedy. That’s when we make a promise to live each day as though it’s our last. To value each and everything fully and not take anything for granted.

But that’s just as exhausting and unattainable. We need stability and routine to feel sane. There has to be a balance. Taking time to decompress, recharge, breath, look around and appreciate all we have, instead of bemoaning what we don’t is empowering. There’s only one thing under our control, are our own thoughts and feelings. No one can make us feel bad, we allow that to happen. We’ve all heard this before. But today let’s prove it.

Today, really look at our magnificent sunrises and sunsets. See the breathtaking reds, oranges and purples streaking across the horizon. Smell the incredibly energized, fresh air after a downpour that makes it seem as though anything is possible. Look up at the magnificent stars in the night sky that give our status in the universe perspective. Catch the light as it’s reflected off the majestic mountains towering over us. Feel the rhythm in nature’s heartbeat. Take inspiration in the beauty everywhere.

I love what I do everyday and the patients and people I am privileged to share it with. Friends, family and loved ones are integral to my existence. My baby dogs give me unconditional love and true peace when they are curled up safe and secure in my arms at night. But after a particularly difficult day, when I feel exhausted, in pain, overwhelmed by current events, acts of violence, bills, a new crisis to deal with. . .I have to stop and remember- happiness is a choice. 

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