Some people find me to be sickeningly happy. I am not every ones cup of tea. In fact, the one and only complaint I have ever received on an evaluation form said that I am too demonstrative about my happiness. “She is too happy!”

I took that to heart and the next time I taught that class I tried to be more reserved. I did not smile. I tried to be serious.  At the end of the class, once everyone had left, I told myself that if this is what the students want, then I have to quit.  Well, luckily I simply gave up that class at the end of the session and did not give up my career.

My life is not all butterflies and roses.  It has been wonderful so far but I have struggled as well.When I was going through a rough patch a few years ago, after the death of my parents and some job dissatisfaction, my health started to wane. It seemed as though nothing was going right. I found myself sinking into a hole of misery.  I found myself at the book store in search of some words of wisdom and Pema Chodron’s book caught my eye, “The Places That
Scare You – A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times.”

What I learned from Pema’s words is that what we focus on expands. So if we are feeling miserable and we focus on it, we will begin to only see misery which will make us feel worse and so on. The cycle is vicious and it leads to poor health in body and mind.

Well I had seen enough misery so I chose to do whatever it took to turn my life around.

I chose to focus on the things that were going right in my life even if they were small. In time, I began to see more and more amazing things, even though I was still feeling crappy a lot of the time. My day was filled with half misery and half joy which was better than all misery.  I chose to be positive. I chose to be happy.  It was hard work to pull myself out of the despair but I knew that I still wanted to make some of my dreams come true, so I had to make a change.

Now my life is filled with such joy that I really have a hard time not smiling constantly. I do not want to look like a complete idiot but I have learned to find joy in tiny things, like a hot cup of coffee or tea uninterrupted. A good read on a rainy day. Glorious sunsets and sunrises. Smiles from friends, family and strangers.

You see, life can be so disappointing if we let it.You can pile up all the crap going wrong in your life and find many people who will help you to do this! “Misery loves company,” is not just a saying it is true because it is easy to add up life’s challenges. ” I do not have enough money. My kids don’t listen. This job sucks. I am so fat. I hate my life.”  It can be very hard to stop telling ourselves those things and find any instance of joy when we are so consumed by unhappiness.

With baby steps anyone can turn their life around. I started by changing my focus, searching for positivity. I began my day trying to come up with just one thing that I was happy for, even if it was just “my comfortable bed.” Each day I would try to add one more item and then when I heard myself slipping into complaining mode I would say to myself, “but wait, I have a beautiful home and a lovely family and that is all that matters right now, I can keep going.” 

It gets easier and easier, especially with wonderful books like Pema’s.  I am not a Buddhist, but I love reading how different traditions handle life and then I choose to incorporate into my life, what works for me! I you are a bit down and need to try something new, pick up her book.

I hope this helps.

Have a great day everyone.