This morning I woke up to a peaceful home, went to the bathroom, washed and dried my face, looked into the mirror and laughed. For the first time in a long time, I am happy and all it took was walking away from something that I should have walked away from a long time ago. I believe it was Herman Cain that said: Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. For a long time, I thought that I had to do something to be happy but happiness doesn’t work that. Happiness comes from within us and it has nothing to do with any external force.
Happiness is something every one of us wants. While we seek money or success, we are actually looking for happiness. The problem is that we assume that these things make us happy but these things make happiness unreachable. I know that for a long time I found myself unhappy but I also tried to be happy; the problem was that I was looking for happiness in the all the wrong places. There is no question that my brother’s death forced me into reality check mode.
What I have learned since my brother’s death is that happiness is our own responsibility. My happiness is my call and I can’t blame others for my being unhappy nor can I work to make others happy. While things change and go bad, I get to decide how I respond to them. I also get to decide whether I want to be happy. After my brother passed away, I realized that I was very unhappy and his death wasn’t the reason so I did some soul searching and I made some conclusions on what was missing from my life and why it was that I wasn’t happy. I know that there were aspects of my life that I couldn’t change but I was still trying to change knowing all to well that I didn’t have that control. However, while I couldn’t control the situation, I still could walk away from it.
In recent weeks, I found out how easily I can find happiness and the first of those things that I need to stop comparing myself to others. We can either feel proud of who we are or we can be jealous of others. However, jealousy does not bring happiness so to be happy I had to stop comparing myself to others.
The most important thing I learned from my brother’s death was to count my blessings. There are so many things we should be grateful for but we often forget what those are. To realize how blessed you are will make you truly happy so don’t take simple things and the people in your life for granted.
Part of my soul searching experience led me to listen to my inner voice. I asked myself how I could make my life more meaningful. What did true happiness mean to me? I knew that my advocacy work made me happy but I still wasn’t listening to my heart. Giving and helping makes us happy and I was already doing that but what I wasn’t doing was making time more time for those I loved including my kids, my mother, my siblings and my dearest friends. George Sand said that “There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.” Love is so important to happiness and that involves building better relationships and that was a promise that I made to myself when I found out my brother was terminal. The other part of love and meaningful relationships is knowing when romantic love has failed and that was another area I had to figure out.
I also made a choice to notice nature and to see how beautiful it was. This gave me the chance to see how peaceful nature was so I made a choice to watch the sun shines and watch birds chirp (apparently, they do not really head south for the winter) and through that beauty and peacefulness, I found happiness. I also leaned on God more than I ever had in the past and expressed my fears, my hopes and my dreams. I found my way back to God after my diagnoses of Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis. When my brother was dying, God helped me to find strength when I could not find it on my own. After my brother’s death and the realization that my life had to change, I found peace and answers in prayer.
I prayed and I meditated and I found ways to calm my mind and to look deeper for my inner happiness. I have started to know myself better and learned to understand what makes me tick. I have learned to appreciate the value that others bring to my life and I have learned that a simple thank you can make all the difference in the world. I smile more and that helps to brighten my day and to brighten someone’s day. I have learned to listen more than I speak and I am happy because I not only understand myself but I also understand others. I have learned to stop judging and looking the positive aspects of every person. I think we often see the weaknesses that others have because we do not take the time to see their strengths.
All the things I have learned have not just come from me but I found them by talking to others and discussing my fears and my frustrations. Throughout this journey, I have learned to focus on what I can control including my own actions and behaviors. I have for along time put up when ill treatment from others for variety of reasons but none of those reasons were about me. I may not get to control how others treat me but I get to control my response and that response was to stop being a doormat. I have learned to forgive myself for bad choices and I have also learned to forgive others. Forgiving others eases our tensions, not theirs. It cleanses our hearts and our souls. Moreover, forgiving doesn’t mean that we forget because then we go back to being a doormats and I don’t want to be a doormat again.
I also accept that I have flaws and that I am not perfect. In fact, my biggest flaw is my inability to accept failure and move on from a bad experience but I am working on that. Since I cannot change me, I accept me because I am unique and for that, I am grateful. Trying to find happiness always comes with problems and you can only control how you respond. Life is too short so calm down and learn to overcome failure – I am learning how important that is everyday.
I know that happiness means that I stay true to myself and to may heart. I have made a promise to be aware of my own happiness. My soul searching experience forced me to walk away from persons in my life who were hurting me. I know that the choice I made was hard for all the parties involved but I am happy and it didn’t take long to be happy. I can hear myself laugh now and I have not had that in a long time. I feel relaxed and I am in a lot less pain from RA and Fibro for the first time in a long time. I know that the next part of my journey is going to be a long learning experience. There are also going to be difficult times but I have been told it gets easier.