Choosing Happiness

One of my mother’s chief lessons for me growing up was that you make your own happiness.  It comes from within.  She would say that is the reason there are people who have everything that money could buy them but they are miserable and there are people who are dirt poor or who live with extreme hardships who are very happy.  Because happiness comes from within.  Because they are making a conscious choice.  She really drove it home for me.  My sister doesn’t recall her ever driving that lesson home.  Isn't that funny?  Maybe my mom knew I’d get tripped up along the way.  Maybe she somehow knew I was the one who needed the lesson.

She was a smart lady, my mom.  I sure do miss her.

When I was in the hospital with Pip while he was recovering from transplant, I spent a lot of time in the lactation room.  It was a small room down the hall from the PICU.  It was tiny and the walls were bare and there was one chair and one magazine.  I read that magazine cover to cover several times.  The feature article was about Michael J. Fox.  I loved Michael J. Fox when I was a kid and thought Family Ties was the best show ever and I was going to marry him some day and live happily ever after.  (Do NOT watch Family Ties now, by the way.  It doesn't stand the test of time.  Just enjoy the fond memories you have of the Keaton clan…if you have them at all…if you’re ancient enough to remember….)  Anyway, you know, he ended up marrying someone else.  And having Parkinsons.   And he’s written some books, apparently.  And he writes about choosing happiness.  He yells it out the car at his embarrassed children every morning when he drops them off at school.  I don’t know if it was the importance of being reminded of that message for me at that time or the fact that I spent SOOOOOOOOO much time rereading that article in the world’s worst lactation room, but it made a very clear impression and I felt a little like my mom and Michael J. Fox should hang out some time.

It’s time to choose happiness again.  It’s time to let go of the stuff that feels bad about this break-up and choose to be thrilled by all the new possibilities and grateful for what I've got.  I have two completely amazing children and a condo that I like despite all the destruction Pip has levied upon it.  Oh, Pip!  I love that there is time for me now to get back to doing some of the stuff I like to do.  It makes me a better mom and a better example for my children to be taking time to do what I want or need to do.  Life feels a little scarier…a little more precariously balanced…but that’s OK.  The adrenaline from the anxiety attacks makes you feel more alive.  Bzzzzzzzzzt!

And, most importantly, when I look at what I want for our future, I want peace.  I don’t want to be angry.  I don’t want to be hurt.  That’s a choice that I have to make.  No one else is responsible for my feelings.  I was not a perfect wife.  It was not a perfect marriage.  Some unfortunate decisions were made in the past.  In the past.  They’re past.  Looking forward, though, if he is happier and I am happier and the kids are inevitably happier because they have happier parents and they enjoy their time with him and they enjoy their time with me and there are more adults in the mix now who also love them and care for them, well, that’s pretty sweet.  That’s a good life. Not the life I had envisioned…but maybe better in the long run.   It was expensive to get here in a lot of ways but, as of Wednesday morning, we will have arrived.

I’m choosing happiness today.  I'll have to consciously choose it again tomorrow.  It takes a little work.  (I also chose to write this instead of beginning my training to run a 5K as I had planned.  But I hate running so, in a way, I’m choosing happiness by sitting on my ass at this here computer.  Good for me!!!)   Make the choice to have a great day today.  Imagine me yelling that at you out my car window like Michael J. Fox.  Is it embarrassing?  Too bad.  I don’t care.  Find some fun.

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    Great column. Especially the part about choosing happiness/writing vs. happiness/running. I'm with you, sister!

  • This is so sweet! I love it! thank you!!!

  • Yes. I remind myself daily to choose happiness.

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