Friday, February 4, 2011

Finding Happy

"I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances." 
-Martha Washington

This has been one of my favorite quotes for a long time.  My mom sent this to me my freshman year of college, and it has inhabited my "favorite quotes" on Facebook ever since.  It's so hard for me to remember that happiness is a choice, not some mysterious feeling that just happens upon us based on our surroundings.  I thought about this quote recently, because I began reading a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  I was initially intrigued by the title.  What could a happiness project entail?  The premise of Rubin's book is that most of us are happy (and extremely blessed); we just aren't as happy as we could be, because we allow the clutter of life to drag us down into a less happy place.  Her answer was to set attainable resolutions for each of the twelve months in a year that she felt would make her a happier person, or at least a person more able to recognize the reasons she should be happy.  

In a lot of ways, I feel like Gretchen Rubin.  I am fully aware of my many blessings.  I have a wonderful, supportive, and loving circle of family and friends that I can always rely on.  I have two jobs that I love.  I am healthy and have my whole future ahead of me.  But in the midst of all these blessings, I have found that it is so easy for me to slip into a state of discontent.  I worry that I'm not good enough or that I'm not reaching my full potential.  I get bogged down in the little things like cleaning my house and doing laundry and paying my bills, and then I start to focus on the negative rather than the positive.  I have a friend who always used to say "accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative."  Well, that statement is WAY easier said than done.  For example, I could focus on the fact that I have two great jobs that I love, that I get to work with people all day, and that I am lucky to have these two jobs when there are people who don't have any job at all.  Instead, I constantly find myself complaining, both to myself and to others, about how overly busy I am and all the 700,456,259,483 things that I have to get done in a week, and how impossible it all is, and blah blah blah etc, etc.  

So the first resolution in my "happiness project," and my wisdom for this week, is that we have to be "determined to be cheerful and happy," just like Martha Washington.  A couple weeks ago, when I couldn't drag myself out of bed because I had put off going to the doctor for a month, a friend brought me Chinese food (because I was SO sick of chicken noodle soup).  The fortune cookie I got that day is now taped on my bathroom mirror as a daily reminder.  It says "happiness is a journey, not a destination."  Everyday is filled with choices, and the first one we make when we wake up every morning is whether or not each day is going to be a good one.  I am choosing to make every, single day a happy one.  Complaining is a personal decision to clutter our lives with reasons to be less happy.  And I just have to face the fact that I have hundreds of reasons to be blissfully happy everyday.  In the words of my late grandpa, "Everyday I wake up is a good day."  It's definitely about time I made it that way.


  1. My husband lives by the slogan, "Every day above ground is a good one." While that is simplistic, it is profound. Every day brings its blessings if only we'll look to see what they are.