Living life to the fullest seems to be a common challenge for most of us. We dream of living in a place that will instantly fill the empty hole in our heart. Our “destiny” quickly becomes the focus, and the “journey” itself is often ignored. I was very young when I began to yearn for inner peace and joy. I longed to belong to something or more accurately, “someone”. I wanted to live life under The Big Top, a place where things sparkle and magic happens.
I like to call the first half of my life the “When I“ Years. It looked like this: “When I get married I will finally feel complete. When I have a baby I will finally feel complete. When I land a high paying job I will finally feel complete. When I lose 15 pounds I will finally feel complete. I wasn’t taught that bliss resides within oneself. Like most folks I thought happiness was a mysterious state of being that existed outside of my reach.
Life’s challenges, disappointments, and tears prepare us for joy ownership. Painful experiences weave everlasting gratitude into our hearts. These soul-bearing struggles marinate us to a point of humility and true appreciation.
I was 47 years old when I finally figured it out. No, it wasn’t a sullen faced $250 an hour shrink who taught me the secret to an inner smile, it was actually an incurable brain disease. Yep, an incurable brain disease taught me the meaning of happiness. Parkinson’s Disease taught me how to tap into the tiny treasures that fill each day. It slowed me down so I could not only photograph the roses, but also smell them.
The path to happiness is designed for true emotional warriors….people who are willing to face roadblocks, pot holes, and detours. Happiness Seekers must be brave, gritty, and possess a bodacious sense of humor. They must throw caution to the wind, and be willing to let go of dysfunctional payoffs that inevitably come from living in a dark hole. They must be willing to shed negative thoughts and unhealthy behaviors. They have to be able to laugh at themselves, and risk looking utterly stupid at times. They have to be able to see life from the other side of the fence and without rose-colored glasses. They have to stop over-thinking every little thing and begin trusting the process. They must be courageous enough to ask for help, and also courageous enough to go it alone.
Most importantly a Happiness Seeker must truly commit to finding joy. Pain addicts feel at home wearing overcoats of shame and sadness. They define themselves through what’s missing in their life, and actually derive an odd sense of comfort from doing so.
Every now and then I randomly open a book to see which page I turn to. Usually a poignant message is sent my way. Before I wrote this post I opened to this page….
Regardless of my diagnosis, I feel incredibly blessed. Most mornings I wake up feeling happy, grateful and excited about life. I’m filled with deep gratitude for life’s blessings which include a loyal tribe, an artistic spirit, and a luminous sense of faith. Wishing you a lifetime of tiny delights.