Today I'm participating in In Other Words at Patricia's Place where the writing prompt was the following quotation by Gina Lake - "Unhappiness is caused by believing that something is missing that we need to be happy." Not only do I believe that this statement is true, but I think that this perspective is common to most of us. We tend to go through life thinking that maybe we'll be happy when we reach this goal, or when this happens, or when we make so much money, or find Mr. Perfect, or retire, or whatever.
I know that I certainly fantasize about what life could be like if we are able at some point to retire or even semi-retire. I dream about "the good life" of no alarm clocks, no work clothes, no endless stream of file work, no ringing phones. And there is nothing wrong with dreams like that.
The problem comes when we are in a chronic state of feeling lost and dissatisfied with the life we have now because we are so focused on what we wish we had instead. We spend our days grudgingly plodding through the routines, not investing much energy in the relationships that present themselves in our lives, not partaking in the vast array of opportunities and that exist to make our lives happy now.
As I pondered this way of living, I found myself wondering what would happen if in addition to recounting "things I'm thankful for today" I added "things that made me happy today." What things enhanced my life today, made me smile, and gave my life as it is right now meaning?
I am a firm believer that there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for even at the darkest, toughest times in our life, and I'm going to expand that to say that I believe we can also find bright spots and happy moments each day if we remain open to them. Even a shared smile can generate a wonderful warm feeling and start a ripple effect!
I am not lost, I have not lost everything good in my life, though not too many years ago I would have sung you the refrain about freedom being "just another word for nothing else to lose." Now I know that we can't go seeking happiness and find it, it's not a state of being that we find or purchase or barter pieces of our life in exchange for. Happiness comes upon us unaware when we are at peace with where we are in life at the moment.
Happiness is realizing that we always have a choice... the choice in how we will respond to what life brings us, and the choice to be happy regardless of what we are dealing with. I am not going to wait to be happy, I am going to be happy with the life God is giving me and see what I can make of it that might bring a little happiness to others too!