Updated: Aug 21, 2018
I have a large canvas print that hangs in my home, this print has brought me a lot of joy, and also there were times where I wanted to rip it up. It kind of looks like an old Campbell soup sign, but the words say, "We tend to search for Happiness, when happiness is actually a choice."
I think you can imagine the times I did not enjoy reading that sign. When things were tough. When I was tired of people letting me down. When the kids were fighting. Happiness most definitely did not feel like a choice and I hated it.
I had a sweet friend visit me the other day who is older and wiser. She's seen a lot. She has done a lot of good, but she's also been through the ringer. She looked me straight in the eye and said, "honey people are running around trying to capture happiness and it just isn't there. Happiness is like a flitting, flying little thing that crosses your path here and there and that's it."
I wanted to hug her (and I am NOT a hugger). I wanted to tell her she is so loved and beautiful and it's all ok. But I didn't, I just nodded and listened and agreed and let her keep going.
One of my favorite lines in the play by Eugene O'Neil "The Iceman Cometh" is, "I've had hell inside me. I can spot it in others."
I used to hate the things that had happened to me. I hated that my life was different and not the way I had planned it. I hated my choices and the mistakes I made. I hated that I had experienced abuse and trauma and that I had hell inside me.
But I now am viewing it as a gift, because it opened me to the light. like a ray of sunshine shining out from behind a cloud. as Rumi stated, "the wound is the place where the Light enters you."
I can see my own lights, and I can see other's light trying to shine out from behind the cloud of fear. I could see her hell. I could see her self hatred, and self blame. I could see her lack of self esteem and knowledge of who she really is. That there is nothing wrong with her or her life, it's all a gift just waiting for her to open it. But instead she feels robbed. She feels alone. She feels like she has to take care of herself because no one else will. She literally has hell inside her. As Wordsworth quoted elegantly: And much it grieved my heart to think What man has made of man.
Getting down to the truth of how you feel and how you make choices in your life has been something I've PURPOSEFULLY been facing and working on through therapy and self help books for 4 straight years. Guess what, it aint pretty. As they say, "The truth shall set you free."
When you really honestly no holds barred start to look at the TRUTH. Oh what we have made our lives to be! I feel like I'm on the other side of the Grand Canyon having just hiked the Rim to Rim. But instead of being exhausted and depleted I'm waving a huge flag and screaming at the top of my lungs to everyone on the other side, "IT IS SO WORTH IT! IT IS BEAUTIFUL OVER HERE! KEEP GOING!" and the best part "IT LOOKS WAY WORSE THAN IT IS!"
Your happiness is not dependent on circumstances, or other people's choices. The first time I really experienced this was in high school. Our family car since the time I could remember was the "burb". A rust brown and diarrhea tan 1986 economy suburban. It was loud. It had a squeaky fan belt. When you turned it off it lurched 9" forward. It wasn't pretty, or new or sleek. I was positive that it was ruining my life. I knew that if we had a nice, new car I would be happy. Imagine my surprise when after a track meet my parents came to pick me up in a brand, spanking new, shiny white Suburban. I couldn't' believe it! The smell!!! The smooth ride!!! It was unbelievable! And yet...
It only took a few months when I realized, that nothing had changed. I felt exactly the same. Our family was the same. My life was the same. The only difference was we had a new car. It hadn't changed my happiness at all. If you base your happiness on things, or choices, it probably does feel like an unattainable pursuit. Probably why billions of dollars are spent on advertising a year. "if you buy me you will be HAPPYYYYYY!!!!!"
Happiness is not a fleeting, flying little blip. God made you to be happy. The whole point of life is letting yourself choose happy. Happiness is a choice, but you have to be willing to let go of everything in your hands (blame, guilt, victimhood, anger, depression, anxiety, excuses, blah blah blah) to be able to pick it up. Or maybe it's in the bottom of your hands, and it's been here all along, you just can't see it or feel it. The truth will show you.
The truth will set you free...but first it has to hurt like hell.
Happy (ha) side note: That suburban that I used to hate has been transformed by my loving husband into an awesome adventure mobile. We love it and are always grateful to see it in our driveway. How's that for alchemy?