A few years ago I knew a woman in a wheelchair who suffered from MS. Her mother had taken her in and was caring for her. Both women were the nicest ladies you could ever meet. They never complained although I know their lives had to be hard. When we visited, they were always sunny, smiling and joyful. It amazed me that one living with a terminal illness and the other a caregiver could be so happy all the time.
I also know some close friends who have it all. They are blessed with lots of money, a beautiful home, family, food on the table with tons of other gifts, and they are miserable and angry at the world. They are never happy, ever.
I’ve heard it often said that happiness is a choice. But I have to wonder, is it really?
It’s Easy to be Happy When Life is Good
I think we can all agree when life is going well; it’s easy to be happy. When we are sick, in pain or stressed, not so much. The circumstances of our lives seem to dictate for many of us (me included) the state of our mood.
Every spiritual teacher tells us the same thing; we are doing it wrong. We are putting the cart before the horse. When we can find a way to be happy despite the circumstances of our lives, then those circumstances change accordingly to be in line with our joyfulness. I don’t know about you, but this is a HARD sell for me.
Overlooking pain especially chronic physical illness is tricky. But as I illustrated above with my story of the woman with MS, obviously she knew how; she found the secret to being happy despite her grim circumstances. I wish she were still around so I could ask her how she did it.
Is It Cheating?
Recently the circumstances of my life changed dramatically. I want to say I was able to embrace happiness before and during the move, but that is not the case. Before I sold my house, I was stressed, tired, in pain and struggling to hold it all together. At times I felt like I was losing my mind. I did not feel any joy at all during the adventure.
Now that I have sold my house and moved, my days are easy, stress-free and I have to say it is about one-thousand percent easier to be happy every day. Although that is not how it is “supposed” to work, it did for me. Before I felt burdened by the weight of my stressors and no matter how much I told myself they would be resolved, it did nothing to help my happiness factor.
I feel like I am cheating because now I find it easier to be happy because I didn’t choose it and I didn’t make it happen. I merely changed some circumstances of my life, and now all my stress and pain are gone.
Mindful Living is Easier Now
Maybe it’s just because I now have so much more free time that I can concentrate on meditation and mindfulness that things are so good. I am not sure.
What I do know is that now that my stress has been removed, I feel different. Every day I seem to live entirely in the moment without worrying about the future or looking back at the past. I have no reason to. I am financially secure, I have consistent work, and I have lots of free time to invest in my spiritual wellbeing. Plus I have nothing to worry about, nothing to fix; nothing needs my attention.
Perhaps the Key is Change Not Forcing Happiness
So maybe the key is not overcoming the obstacles in our lives and forcing ourselves to feel happy when things are awful. Perhaps the trick is taking action instead and making the big, scary changes to the circumstances of our lives. At least making a change gives you hope that things will feel different. It sure worked for me.
With change comes fear but maybe your happiness is worth a walk through some fear and stress to come out the other side better, more joyful and happier than ever. I can tell you; I almost didn’t decide to sell my house and move. It all seemed to be too much effort, and a part of me wanted to stay put and ignore it all.
I am very grateful to have found the courage and drive to make the changes I did. It is so nice to have the time to live more mindfully and more fully each day. I wouldn’t want to go back to my old life, I love this new one so much!