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Such a simple sentiment, but so profound the meaning. My mother, recently hospitalized, spoke those words to me as she lay waiting for a procedure to assess the severity of her cardiac disease. My sister and I were by her bedside in the cath lab, and, true to form, rather than being somber and stone-faced, we were joking, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.  Mind you, I am not insensitive to the seriousness of medical conditions, or certain of life’s happenings, but helping to ease the burdens of others through levity and the pure joy of lightness and laughter cannot be underestimated.

As we awaited the procedure, and amidst lighthearted banter and muffled laughter (there were, after all, patients on the other side of those curtains), my mom looked at me and said, simply and sincerely, and with that kind of loving smile that only a mother can give, “You’re happy.”

This, I think, is the best compliment one can receive. Being happy and joyful in the face of life’s hardships not only helps us, but it helps those around us. I’ve had my share of struggles with heartache and loneliness. I barely make ends meet and have often felt like the “odd” one in the family. At one point in my life, I was so low that I fervently and tearfully prayed every single night that I would just fall asleep forever.

Thankfully, I had a moment that led me away from the depths of sadness and toward the light. It was ever so subtle, like a parent who gently guides their child with a simple light touch on their shoulder. Instead of fighting it, I accepted the change of direction and have not looked back. Being happy and joyful takes work. It is a conscious choice, and one that must be nurtured and supported and prioritized. I’ve learned that you can’t be happy if you simply allow your emotions to run the show. Entrusting your happiness to the whim of daily life puts you at the mercy of things that you cannot control—traffic, weather, gas prices, an unreasonable boss—you get the picture. Instead, choose to find what makes you happy, focus on that and let the “other stuff” float out of your life like a passing cloud in the sky. Easier said than done? Absolutely. Getting to that place where you can remain in a state of joy in the face of tribulation is hard work. But it is so worth it!

 

 

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