Happiness comes easily for some. For others, we struggle to find joy. I don't mean we never smile or laugh--I just mean we usually find it easier to fret, find fault, furrow our brows.
At times in my life, happiness has come only when I made a concerted effort to find it. And I never found it in more; I only found it when I made a simple decision: be happy.
Of course, what starts as a simple decision has to be backed up by action. Changes were made, friends were relied upon, some habits were broken, other habits were taken up: sometimes it takes a lot of work, but the busier I am reaching goals, being with friends, and reconstructing areas of my life toward the positive--the less time I have to think about sadness, or lost opportunities, or failures, or frustrations with others.
Amanda Sekulow, founder of GLAM Ministries, encourages me all the time to tackle the areas of my life I need to and can change, and to accept what I cannot. Whenever I need a dose of inspiration to take on a task, I often text Amanda and ask for a lunch date. Hearing someone else say "you can do it" with the added reality of "though it might be difficult" is the perfect prescription.
"Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold is one of the best poems for me to read when I am feeling particularly morose. My saying that, and you reading it, may bring a surprise:
...the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night. (ll. 30-37)
Jessa, how on earth does something so depressing help you find happiness? Because. I don't want to be like that.
I don't want to focus my life on thoughts that the world "hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain" (ll. 33-34). My one life here on this planet is my chance to touch others, to be a light. What a horrible way to live, caught up in my own dismay. What a waste of precious time.
Most of the time, the only thing standing in the way of my happiness is my attitude.
I'm not saying we cannot have a bad day or one of those cry-your-eyes-out afternoons, but overall, we would be a lot wiser to focus on our blesses and spend less time on our own personal "darkling plain," struggling and clashing instead of loving others--and loving ourselves.
For a pictorial list of ideas on how to focus on happiness, go here.
Arnold, Matthew. "Dover Beach." 100 Best-Loved Poems. Ed. Philip Smith. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1995. Print.
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