Monday, June 6, 2011

The Voice of Happiness

Abraham Lincoln said that people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. I resisted that concept for so long. Life, as it looked from my perspective, did not always look happy. And so I reasoned, if my life circumstances were not what I wanted them to be, why should I be happy. If I saw a funny movie I laughed; if I heard a really good joke, I would chuckle; when I had my family with me cooking in the kitchen, I felt happiness. I simply did not get what A. Lincoln was talking about. I did consider him to be far wiser than I, I just could not reconcile in my heart or mind how "happiness" and "unhappiness" could co-exist.

In my wiser years (which I hope I have at least have crossed into) I have learned that I was right. Happiness and unhappiness are distinctly opposing forces and cannot reside in one room at the same time. They are a little like relatives who hate each other but cannot be at a holiday function together. But I think I now understand what Mr. Lincoln was trying to say. His life was laced with tragedy and yet somewhere in all of his sorrow, he found a piece of happiness that whispered its secret to him. I don't know, truly, if I have the words to sum it up better than he, or one of many others who have gone before me...but I am going to give it a shot.

There is the happiness that comes when I receive a surprise, whether it is a phone call, a gift, or something more miraculous like the birth of our children. Those events, those moments, that make us happy ignite our hearts in the same way that challenge and tragedy ignite sorrow. The emotion of happiness is different than the decision to "be happy." The kind of happiness that echos from the voice of Lincoln's grave is the concept that happiness is a state of being. It is about choosing to be happy. In my Buddhist inspirational message today, it read, "There is nothing clever about not being happy." (Arnaud Desjardins) Beside the quote, on the next page, is a picture of a horse on his back rolling in a beautiful green meadow. I have come to the place in my life where I have decided that my anguish has long outlived itself. Like that horse, I am ready to roll around in the life I have been blessed with, regardless of the manure that might be hidden in the beautiful green leaves called my life. Spending anytime at all being unhappy simply stole my goodness right out from under my nose. Life was asking me to open up my arms to receive the gifts it had laid at my feet. I don't know why it took me so long, but I am ready to live differently. Happiness, I am choosing you today.

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