Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Choose to be Happy Now.

This post was originally posted here. 

I remember when my husband and I were first married looking around our apartment and realizing we owned nothing new. Our couch had belonged to a member of my husband’s church. My mom had picked up our kitchen table at a yard sale and our washer and dryer were the ones that my parents had bought when they were first married more than 25 years earlier. We lived in a small apartment and hardly owned anything nice but we were really happy.

About a year into our marriage, the jealousy bug bit me. We went to visit a newly married friend in their new apartment and everything they had was gorgeous. They had chosen not to go on a honeymoon or have a reception, so they had a lot more money to decorate. I was suddenly no longer happy to just have a bed, couch and a washer of my own, I was bitter that my things weren’t as nice as theirs.

I eventually got over our apartment and went back to loving it for what it was, our first place together that we would always remember.

My husband and I have joked throughout our whole marriage that we are the unluckiest people we know. The star don’t align for us, ever usually. We worked hard all through college, often forgoing sleep to earn a little extra money or study a little longer, while many people we knew had parents paying for their college. Our jobs in college were both contingent on being students, so we lost our jobs the day we graduated, five days after we welcomed our beautiful daughter into the world. The economy had begun its steep decline just months before, so it was more than 9 months before we ever saw another paycheck. I could go on and list the health problems that have plagued us and other misfortunes.

Now I don’t say any of this to make people feel sorry for us -- I am sure everybody has their share of misfortune -- but to help you understand how frustrated I was with our lives. We watch miraculous jobs fall into people's laps in their hometowns while we had to move thousands of miles away for my husband to get employment. So by the time we made it to our new house in Texas, I was bitter again. I had just left the state I had lived in all my life, my parents and my best friend to live in what I thought was the worst place in the world. After a couple of months of crying on the phone to my mom, she begged me to try to be happy. Pretend to be happy for a week and see how it goes.

That night when my husband walked into the house there was dinner on the stove and I was dancing with our baby in the kitchen. He stopped and searched my face for the tears he thought had to be hidden there but I was determined that he wasn’t going to find them, even though I was crying inside. We sat down at dinner and ended up talking and laughing for hours. As I laid down to go to bed that night, I realized that for the first time in Texas, I was genuinely happy.

Now in the two years since that night, I have had to choose to be happy over and over again.

The days that huge medical bills have landed on us, I have chosen to not let something I can’t change upset me.

On the days my child won’t stop being defiant, I have chosen to play with her and let her know how truly loved she is.

On the days I have felt like crying, I have cried and then picked myself up again and decided to be happy.

Happiness is a choice, sometimes a really hard one, but one that gets easier and more wonderful the harder you try at it. Is our life better now? In some ways, yes, but even if it isn’t, it SEEMS better because I have chosen to be happy about it.

Happiness is always a choice. Stop wasting your life away wishing for something in the future. Stop saying you will be happy when you get that raise, or you baby sleeps through the night. If you keep saying that when the deadline comes for being happy you will just find another deadline to push your happiness to. Choose to be happy and choose to be happy now.