Sunday, June 24, 2012

My journey to happiness


Happiness is possible within us all.....

Every morning I wake up grateful for the life I have. It wasn't always so. I had to learn how to be happy. It was hard work.

For years I allowed negativity {and the belief that somebody else or something else could make me happy} interfere with my ability to appreciate my blessings. I suffered from the “if onlys”. If only this popular guy would ask me out; if only I got the lead in my senior class play; if only I was accepted in this sorority; if only I could get the perfect job in the perfect city; if only I would meet the perfect man, get married, have 2 kids, move to the 4 bedroom colonial with the manicured lawn on a waterfront in the right neighborhood; if only I had a Gucci handbag and a 32” strand of Mikimoto pearls; ....{fill in the blank} my life would be fulfilled and I would finally be happy. But, I wasn't. I was a stubborn student. If took me decades to accept that people and things were not the source of my happiness...and that it could only come from me.

I married a nice man that my family loved; but, we were ill suited as marriage partners. We did vacation well, but not everyday life. He bought me the things I thought I needed to be happy; he took me on fabulous vacations. I traveled the world and took it for granted. We lived an amazing life from Indianapolis to Dallas to Taipei, Taiwan, to Hong Kong to Delaware; but it wasn't enough and we made one another miserable. While we were living in Hong Kong he lost his job and his confidence and made friends with Johnny Walker. I went to Al Anon but didn't accept that I had no control over alcohol, other people, places and things. I didn't heal and ultimately, the house of cards collapsed.

I found a job, moved to Maryland, and promptly got involved in another dysfunctional relationship.
I'd learned just enough jargon from my limited exposure to Al Anon that I thought I could create an environment where this alcoholic would want to seek the cure. I was wrong. {the first 44 years of my life I was just less right than I originally thought – never wrong}. I found my way back to Al Anon and a group of people in Frederick, Maryland that took me in and helped me find a way to heal. This involved deep investigation into self – the good and the bad; the beautiful and the ugly; the acceptance of what is; learning to appreciate the journey. I got stronger and broke free. At the same time, a coworker introduced me to Doreen Virtue's book “Healing With The Angels”. And I started practicing yoga. Through the combination of Al Anon, Doreen Virtue and yoga, I found my spirituality, my sense of self and an appreciation for the beauty in the every day. Slowly, I learned how to be happy and live of live filled with positivity, laughter, peace and serenity. (ok – a little vino and some shoes as well)
During the journey, I've learned to accept people and love them as they are. Low expectations and high acceptance. I've learned to love and appreciate myself – the real me, not my idealized me. I have no control over whether somebody else likes me or not. If they don't, that is their problem not mine. I love the quiet moments alone reading or just being, and the peace that comes with digging in the dirt while gardening. I feel gratitude and happiness watching the sunrise and sunset, the birds eating at the feeder, the cats leaping at the birds, the first daffodil of spring, the rose bushes in full bloom, the smell of BBQ on the smoker, that my deer magnate Honda CRV takes a licking and keeps on ticking. And I appreciate my wonderful husband and enjoy every moment we've had since we met 7 1/2 years ago. I appreciate his kindness, his sense of humor, the fact he cooks and has encouraged me to expand my interests.

Happiness is available to all. It is truly within. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln ...most people are about as happy as they want to be.



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