Because I’m Happy…



I’m sure you’ve heard the pop music hit and Despicable Me II movie theme song “Happy” by Pharrel Williams. The lyrics may have gotten stuck in your head, like they are in mine as I write this. I find myself humming, singing “happy, happy, happy” and even dancing around the house a little bit. But, that’s okay; I’ve had less desirable ditties stuck in my head (like the “Oscar Meyer Wiener” song; I really hate when that happens). But I don’t mind “Happy,” because I really am happy. And I know what I’m talking about, because there have been moments in my life when I really wasn’t happy.

Happiness seems to be a popular subject these days, and I was interested to learn that Good Morning America Weekend anchor Dan Harris recently wrote a book titled “10% Happier,” in which he shares his personal experience and search for happiness through meditation. So, I asked myself, What makes me happy? When was I the happiest in my life?

Different aspects of my life affect my happiness, such as how I choose to earn a living. I’ve discovered that it isn’t the amount of money I earn that makes me happy, it’s about doing what I love. I had a long career as a civil servant, which provided a very good income for my family. But after 27 years, I can’t say it was satisfying, at least it wasn’t at the end. I knew that something had to change when I woke up every day searching for a reason not to go to work.

I was eligible for early retirement, and decided that if I could find a job writing – something I love – I would retire. And though I had no experience, I landed a job writing for a newspaper. I remember laughing out loud when I got my first paycheck, because writing a story just didn’t feel like “work.” I like to write because through words, I can invoke an emotion and maybe inspire a reader to do something good. I once wrote a story about a young woman suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease. She had reached a point where she couldn’t move or communicate with her family and her little girls. The family was desperately trying to raise money to purchase a computer with technology that would allow her to send a message to her family by simply looking at the keyboard. Someone who read my story called me and said that it had brought them to tears. The reader was so moved that she set up a fundraising table in front of a local Wal-Mart. I was happy that my story helped the woman and her family in some small way.

The way I live my daily life also affects my happiness. A friend once shared something with me that I found inspiring. A driven and quite successful person, she said she liked to read obituaries to learn what the deceased had accomplished in their lifetime, sometimes comparing those achievements to her own. Yet, one very short obituary made her pause and think. It held one simple sentence: “She found joy in each and every day of her life.” My friend was stopped short, realizing that was the one thing she had failed to do. Haven’t we all spent some days “going through the motions” or getting caught up in our work, just too busy to spend a special moment with a loved one? To me, finding joy in everyday life is the key to true happiness.

While they can bring us heartache, relationships can bring the greatest happiness. Right now, the relationships I have with my grandkids make me the happiest. All I have to do is love them unconditionally and in turn, they make me laugh and remind me how to play. I think about my happiest moments – they had nothing to do with money, great occasions or achievements. I remember vividly a moment of complete contentment as I sat rocking my newborn son. Sunlight streamed through the window and “Danny’s Song” played on the radio. I was suddenly overwhelmed by happiness – in the love for my baby, the beauty of the music and the warm sunshine. I’m often affected by things of extraordinary beauty, like a sunset so brilliant it makes me cry. But today, it’s the “Happy” song that makes me happy. And I can’t help but think it doesn’t get much better.


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