I recently had a conversation with a friend where she admitted to me that she felt like she should be happy, but she wasn’t. She may or may not have used the word “miserable.” Granted, she had just had the week from absolute hell, but still it got me thinking. You see, from the outside it would appear she has it all. The money, the house, the car, the vacations, the family. Admittedly, I’ve looked at her life from afar and thought to myself “I wish I had that life… or even 10% of that life.” And I’ve thought it more than once. Like, a lot more.
Our conversation reminded me of a lesson that I’ve learned over and over again… it’s a simple lesson, and yet entirely complicated, like most good lessons are, so here it is… you must choose joy. I remember the first time I read that my brain just about melted out of my ears. It had literally never occurred to me that it was a choice. It always felt like some passive thing that happened to you, or that came bundled along with something else, like a six figure salary or new house. But it’s so not! It’s an active choice. Every day. Every minute. You cannot wait for joy to come to you. You must choose it.
I’m not saying that it’s easy. And I’m definitely not saying that I’m good at it. But I do know that when I do it… when I choose joy and happiness and gratitude… I instantly feel better. I am more patient and less stressed. I am a better mother and a better wife. I mean, it’s amazing what a little happiness can do, am I right?
Recently I’ve had a mini case of the blues. Things aren’t easy around here. Sam works a lot in order for us to be able to send our kids to the school we want and so we can occasionally indulge in a new pair of jeans or a night out to dinner. There’s not a lot of extra around here. And since he’s at work a lot that leaves me here to run the house and take care of everything else. It’s not an easy job (as most of you probably already know), especially with two small kids. I’m tired… like perpetually tired. I never stop being tired. Anyways, a couple of days ago I found myself standing at the sink, begrudgingly washing what felt like a mountain of dishes, while the kids made the living room look like a crime scene… when I heard the universe whisper those two words… choose joy. I muttered a few words of my own back to the universe before deciding to go ahead and just do it. I’m lucky I have all these dishes to wash, it’s a sign that our family is well fed. I felt a little lighter, so I kept going. I’m lucky there are messes to clean up, it means my children are happy and healthy. Lighter still. I’m lucky to have a husband who works this hard to provide for his family. It was definitely working now… I’m lucky to be home with my children, so many moms out there would do anything to have the luxury of being at home with their babies. My heart was bursting.
I finished the dishes with a smile on my face and then collapsed onto the couch to watch the continued carnage in the living room unfold. Life might be stressful and messy and loud, but that certainly doesn’t mean I can’t be happy at the same time.
So here’s to choosing happiness and joy and gratitude. What do you think? Care to give it a try?