Is happiness a choice, or is it something that simply is? Do we get to decide if we are happy or not? Are we just a victim of our surroundings?
In my life, I believe we can choose to be happy. Yes, things happen in life that can be difficult, but when it comes down to it all, how we opt to deal with the things that have happened, its ultimately up to us whether we choose to remain sad or bitter about the events, or if we instead decide to still be happy.
Happiness is a much healthier option. I have seen people who seemingly have everything in life, yet they simply cannot be happy for themselves. Keep in mind, this is different from those exhibiting signs of depression, and I would not lump a mental health condition into the same category. I have also seen people who have had severely traumatic events happen in their lives who still chose to be grateful that they are still alive on this earth.
We all have days where the weight of the world brings us down. I try to remind myself that I am lucky to be where I am. I have gratitude for the friends and family I have, my living conditions, my job and my passions. I am grateful for having an able body which allows me to do things that others may not have the opportunity to do. This gratitude invariably leads me to happiness.
I look for the positives; for the good in the world. I avoid the news because happy news does not make money and therefore they do not play it. I cultivate my circle of friends to ones who reflect my inner light, and we bring each other up instead of drawing them down. I count my blessings.
Everyday, there is something new to be grateful for. Look for it and you will find happiness everywhere.
I spent yesterday evening thinking back to what the past five years has brought me, and how my life has changed. Yes, divorce will do that to you. But, there is more to it than that. I have realized when I look back at the past five years, I am amazed at how much I have done and how it has helped me grow as an individual.
Not only have I become free from a life (and marriage) that were strangling me, I have opened myself up and become more of who I truly am. I have taken courses and completed two certificates, with the third and fourth ones to be completed shortly. None of which have anything to do with my profession, I might add. They are simply because I enjoy them and choose to increase my knowledge in other areas that interest me. I have dramatically improved my photography skills through practice, mentorship, and coursework, and continue to do so. I have taken myself out of my comfort zone and explored places I would never have expected to go on my own before these five years. I have joined groups and met new friends that mean the world to me. I have plans and aspirations for the next five years that have spiralled off of what the previous five years have provided me.
Something that I didn’t realize when I was in the midst of it all, but when I look back, I can see how much the little bits have changed me over time. Tony Robbins says that people overestimate what they can do in a day but underestimate what they can do in a year. It’s true. I have seen it in myself, and I believe what he has said. I am grateful for my self-motivation to do more. I am glad I have not allowed my life to become passive, but instead, take an active role in what happens in my life. This is my journey, and I want to make the most of it!
Every day we have the opportunity to affect someone’s life. How we choose to do so is up to us. Will we make a positive impact on someone, or will it be negative? How we choose to approach any given situation is up to us.
I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to see many different people from many different spectrums of life. I know that I have the power to make their day miserable, or to try and turn it around and make a positive impact on each person I see in a day. I know that there are people who are looked through instead of looked into. I don’t want to just look through people. Nobody wants to be invisible.
When we choose to be someone’s happiness, the effect multiplies. When we take time to truly be present in the moment, we show that person that they matter. Connect with them, lock eyes so they know that you are listening. You might be amazed at what happens!
When we show that people truly matter, their best comes forward. I was able to get a smile, more than once, from an elderly man who was perceived as being difficult by others. Beyond being able to get a smile from him, he also sang for me.
Not only was I part of his happiness, he became someone who gave me happiness in return. Will you be someone’s happiness too?
This weekend, my youngest son and I went out for a while, just the two of us. There is a local centre that has a few boutiques that was having a family fun day. We decided to go and check it out. We wandered around and looked at the fun garden pieces they had for sale, and looked at the delicious organic candies and cookies. I offered to buy him a cookie so we could sit and enjoy the moment, but he opted not to. He asked instead if we could go and find a present that he could gift to his brother for Christmas. We decided to go to Indigo, but before shopping for his brother, we opted to sit and have a drink at Starbucks. He loves the vanilla bean Frappuccino, so I ordered him one of those, and I bought one of their specialty holiday hot drinks for myself. We sat and talked about the holidays and the excitement. We watched people as they came and went. He sipped from his straw as his feet dangled and swung while he sat in his chair. I watched my youngest son as he showed pure happiness by just having some one on one time with me, his mother.
Families often do things together, but it is so important to give children one on one time with their parent too. My older son gets his one on one time as we share our common passion of photography, but there was something magical about this time with the younger one. He is still so full of holiday excitement, seeing the magic of the season. I love the shimmer in his eyes as he talks about our traditions. And the most wonderful part is that none of it involves receiving gifts. It is all the other stuff: the holiday treats, the music, the friends that we gather with, and the special dinner that we decide collectively on having.
This was one of those moments where my heart swells with pride and love. My son is growing up with love and compassion in his heart. As he grows, he is thinking of others more and more. He is becoming more like his older brother every day. They both make me very proud.
I love libraries. I love the smell of books, and seeing row upon row of books in the stacks. I love the nostalgia I feel when I enter a library and think back to my days as a preteen girl, spending my summer holidays amongst the millions of stories that lived within the library walls.
Libraries, I am afraid, seem to be losing their appeal. With the advent of ebooks, ereaders, and google, libraries seem to be less frequented by society as a whole. It saddened me recently when there was a vote in my community where a new library was proposed to be built, and more than half the votes declined building the new branch library. A part of my heart broke when the results were posted. It seemed to signal the end of an era: an era where everyday life could be escaped and instead lived in the adventures awaiting in the library stacks.
But libraries still do amazing things. They house audiobooks and videos alongside traditional paper books. They house events for writers and readers, programs for preschool, children and teenagers. They host author readings and interviews. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to photograph three published authors for my local library this past week. It was an honour to do so, and my nervousness quickly melted away as I had the chance to learn just a little bit of each author as a person, not just a master of the written word.
For those who still strive for simplicity in their lives, don’t forget about all the pleasures the library still provides. Revel in the books and stories still available within your reach without adding to the clutter in your minimalist home. Take in a book club discussion, or volunteer with other programs your library provides. It is worth it.
This weekend I have had the very fortunate opportunity to spend it with a group of ladies with the same common interest. We have all gathered to learn how to teach meditation.
What interests me about meditation is that while some consider it to be “New Age”, it seems that every culture and religion has some form of meditation; they may just call it something different. Prayer with a rosary, meditation with a Tibetan mala… really, not much difference there.
Mindfulness is a buzz word that has been thrown around lately, but what does it mean to you? Do things with intention. Recognize what it is that you are doing. Mindfulness is being taught in some schools. Being mindful while eating is a tool used for some diet regimes. All forms of meditation.
You can sit to meditate. Lay down to meditate (be careful not to fall asleep, although, that is yet another form…), or walk to meditate. This one is most difficult for me because walking is associated with thinking for me, which is the opposite of meditation.
Nature lends itself to calming and quieting the mind and is a wonderful place to sit and be still. Have you ever tried it? It is blissful. It seems to melt away the stresses of what we do during our daily grind.
In the path of my life, it makes sense that meditation and mindfulness is present. Along with minimalism, where intention of what lives or comes into my space, mindfulness is also present in every decision I make when it comes to consumerism or purging. I become more acutely aware of the disarray in my space and it affects my inner serenity. I wonder, does it affect yours also?
Mothers, enjoy your children. While they are young, as they grow, and when they are adults. Every stage of development for your child is special. I don’t need to tell you that; you already know. Every stage my children have been at has been my favourite. Why? Because it’s where we are in the present.
Don’t wish for the past when they were young, or perhaps before they were born.
Don’t wait for the day they’re grown up and out of the house so you have peace and quiet or a clean home.
Be present. Enjoy what today gives you. It is the ultimate gift. Love your children no matter who, what, or where they are. Love yourself too.
Enjoy this day as if there are no others. Give thanks for the life around you. Be grateful for the ability to have them in your life for not every woman is as fortunate as you. Hug your children. Tell them that you love them. Mean it. Every day.
The other day I went to visit my doctor. As usual, he asked how I was doing and if I was seeing anyone. My doctor likes to keep tabs on me since he knew the issues that occurred before and during the divorce. He always asks how my children are coping as well.
Am I seeing anyone? No, not really. But do I want to be? Well, that got me to thinking. Then the next day I read a brief article on the benefits of being single. That got me thinking even more. There are a lot of benefits to being single. You are the only one spending your income, so you choose where it goes. You decide if you use a credit card for a high-cost item or if you decide to save up before purchasing it. You decide how to pay off debt (like divorce debt), and how you allot your dollars. You decide how to decorate your home. Are you a minimalist or do you like to fill your home with things? Your choice. You decide if you want a pet, and if so, what kind? Do you want to travel? Where do you want to go?
Here’s the best one. You become utterly and solely you. When in a relationship, partners tend to pick up on certain pieces of the other partner’s personality. Quirks, sayings, behaviours. These things tend to blend. The dominant personality tends to overshadow the less dominant personality. You essentially become the same person. However, when you choose a life of being single, you know that who you are is simply you. And that is a good feeling.
There is something spiritual about having friends who are like-minded. Ones that can finish your sentences just because they know exactly what you want to say, or ones that can read you in an instance and just know that all you need at that exact moment is a hug. Until I experienced it, I did not know it existed just like that, and it amazes me how quickly that bond can develop. It’s as if something was lined up in the stars to make it all happen. Sometimes it makes me miss my beautiful, dearest soul sister even more because we have that same bond even with two thousand miles between us, but to feel it almost every day is a blessing.
There is something to be said in sharing each others joys and sorrows. The pains and celebrations. The unspoken words and language that can be said only with that look in one’s eyes. This is the joy I had been missing all of my married life. I am grateful for my new beginning. My freedom from that controlling, manipulative man I now call my ex. My free spirit that was once just a ghost in a dream has been given permission to come out to play, and she has found more soul sisters to be with.
And I am, for the first time in a truly long time, happy.
I have been fortunate enough to allow my heart to open and find people who seem to resonate at the same frequency as I do. It’s interesting how when life seems to be working against you, that truly, the Universe is aligning things for you.
Less than a year ago, I was competing for a position that I was certain I wanted. I worked endless hours, focused so intently on what I was doing to make that job happen. Even those I knew thought I was the best candidate for the position, yet it didn’t happen. I decided for extra insurance, I would apply for another position that came available at a different institution. Just in case. It was a similar job, but I still felt that this was maybe not as good as the original one I was vying for.
I succeeded in landing the second job. I can see now, in retrospect, how this was always the better choice for me. This is where I am happy. I feel my work is meaningful. I have the ability to celebrate accomplishments in a way the other institution didn’t accommodate for. I have met some incredibly amazing people that I would never have met before. These people have become a part of my tribe. I feel that I have been given permission, in a way, from the universe to be myself. To allow the true me to shine through. I hid behind the persona that I thought I needed to have. But in the end, it did nothing for me. I kept searching for the thing that was supposed to make me happy, yet I could never seem to find it. It wasn’t until I allowed myself to shed that protective layer and truly allow my own inner self to bare its soul that I found happiness, and others that share similarities with me.
So, thank you, Universe. I have never felt happier in my life.