“I have no idea what happiness is,” someone confessed in a seminar of mine recently. She realized her life was full of “to-do’s” and no “woo-hoo’s.” She was buried under work and burnt out, not being able to celebrate the joys in her life.
This audience member made me ponder the true source of our happiness and prosperity. I’m linking happiness and prosperity since the word “wealth” comes from “weal” which meant “well-being.” Being happy and being wealthy, i.e. experiencing well-being, is not something that happens–It is something we create, consciously with determination!
First of all, when I talk about happiness and prosperity, let’s get something Waterford crystal clear. I’m not addressing the surface happiness of material pleasures though these certainly contribute to our well-being and comfort. (Nothing like a cup of rich hot chocolate and a luxurious bubble bath, for example!)
What I AM talking about is the happiness that comes from living your life as YOU see fit, according to YOUR beliefs and principles as well as the guidance from YOUR Higher Power.
And being happy does not mean that your life is devoid of pain or sorrow. In fact, I’ve found that pain and sorrow can give rise to the most exquisite awareness of what it is to be fully human, to be in a body that aches sometimes, holding a heart that breaks at times.
The first large heartbreak I experienced was when my parents got a divorce, estranging me from my brother and father. I was overweight and hitting puberty with glasses, braces, corrective shoes, and a slew of blackheads. I felt UGLY and unloved, so I spent a few years in silence, not speaking unless I absolutely had to. (I know that’s hard to believe from this “big talking speaker,” but it’s true!) I cut myself off from everyone around me and let my loneliness and sorrow fester inside.
Then at sixteen, I made a decision, a conscious decision, to be happy. I was in high school, about to get on the bus to ride home, and I remember telling myself that everything I did from there on out was for my happiness, growth, and empowerment!
My life changed radically, I lost weight, started singing and acting, became popular on my own terms, and began to see life as an adventurous script I was co-writing with my Higher Power.
My story illustrates that happiness is a choice. It’s a choice that I continue to make on a daily basis now. Here’s how to do it: In the morning when you get up, instead of thinking about all the things you HAVE to or SHOULD do, focus on all the things you GET to do. I choose to focus on what I GET to do, and let me assure you, just that one simple attitudinal change makes a palpable difference in your happiness and well-being.
As the Dalai Lama affirms, “The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” And the process of figuring out what makes you happy can take time and energy. But if you want to turn your life from a “to-do” into a “woo-hoo,” the first step is that small shift in the morning before you even get out of bed. Your decision to make the day a good day is just as essential as brushing your pearly whites or making sure your socks match before you step out the door. Set your internal compass on what you GET to do and you’ll never have to say, “I have no idea what happiness is.”