How to Be Happy

It's Monday at 830pm and it's 82 degrees out.  The sun is slowly setting and I'm swinging on a wooden play set. I'm listening to Tracen tell me all about his day.  How he went to the preschool room today, what he ate and how happy he was to be outside swinging, "fineaweeee!" His eyes light up with every push I give him. As he gets higher and higher he leans his head back and just grins. It grows larger and larger. I find myself smiling just staring at him not meaning to ignore his words but I am. I am happy. At three and a half he's happy. So happy. He tells me he wants to get down and pick flowers for me and daddy because we are the best mommy and daddy he knows. My heart is aching and not because its empty, quite the opposite, it's so full. It's spilling outwards, in all directions, towards so many individuals, projects, and emotions. I sit down on the swing next to him and continue listening still staring as he brings me small white flowers that he finds in the grass.

People often say they are happy because of their children, husbands, girlfriends or dogs. I've thought and said the same things before. Before I was truly happy. People and animals do make humans happy but over the past years I've learned a great lesson. You can find endless amounts of quotes online but here a few that have resided in the notes section of my iPhone for years. I reflect on them as needed, sometimes daily or when I'm feeling doubtful. Other times it's to reconfirm the way I feel and the happiness that embodies me.

“In seeking happiness for others, you must find it in yourself first.”

“Happiness is a decision. You are as happy as you decide to be.”

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” –Omar Khayyam

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” –Buddha

“If you let go a little you will have a little happiness. If you let go a lot you will have a lot of happiness. If you let go completely you will be free.” –Ajahn Chah

Each quote has different meanings relative to periods of times when I've been less than happy, less than optimistic and needed reassurance. I've gotten to a point in my life where I enjoy things much more, I smile a little wider, laugh a little more and care less of what others think. Don't get me wrong, I've gone through some dark times but it's the letting go that has gotten me to the happiness I feel today.

The last quote is one that resinates with me the most. One that applies to all aspects of my life and that I always come back to. I've learned that you can not change the ones who do not want to be changed or help those that are not willing to except help. Do not be an enabler to others, concentrate on the present and work towards the future. Tomorrow is never promised but one must plan like they will live till then. For others around you to be happy, you must be happy with yourself. Many times I've thought I was truly happy but soon realized that I wasn't. I was happy because others around me were happy. As a people pleaser, I relish on the emotions of seeing others happy. This feeling is overwhelming and fulfilling but doesn't last for long when you are not happy yourself.

"If you let go completely you will be free." Once you are able to let go entirely you will start to realize how happy you can really be. My kids make me undoubtably happy and Jerek makes me laugh that brings out a genuine joy in my smile. What has been so important though, is how I am able to make myself happy without other people, places or things involved in the equation. It's taken me a long time to get to this point but without struggle there is no progress. Find what makes you happy and embrace it, but know that happiness must be found within you first.

As I approach 28 years young today, I'm more confident in myself and my abilities to grow with all the change that is around us. I am overjoyed with the profound moments but am able to cope with the difficult times. Most importantly I am happy with me.