Have you ever heard anyone complain of having too much joy in their life or heard about a person who got sick from an overdose of happiness? It is possible for anyone to receive too many blessings or have too much to be grateful for? I don’t know of any. I do believe the quantity of joy and happiness each person experiences is largely derived from their attitude about living.
Each person generally finds what they expect to find. Certainly life is challenging and there are days when just getting through it is a major accomplishment. However, on a generally average day each person comes in contact with the amount of happiness or sadness anticipated. I have framed it before as “expect mostly good things and the sun will shine lots of them on you. Expect mostly bad things and the sky will rain sh!t on you all day long”. It’s not what happens, but how one frames them in the mind that shapes a persons existence.
Feel free to label me as some new age, hippie-dippie and blissed out late middle-aged man. I could care less how others think of my positive attitude about life. A hard-earned lesson here on this revolving blue ball called Earth is that more than any other factor, it is “I” who create the reality I exist in. Once I stopped blaming parents, previous spouses, employers and such, things changed markedly.
Shining the bright light of self-examination was scary stuff at first because I did not like what I saw. It was initially unnerving to accept complete responsibility for “me”. However, in time with good effort and much kindness I began to accept myself. Through making changes needed and keeping my commitment to them I began to live the sort of life I had long dreamed of, but previously prevented myself from having.
I have always, essentially, been waiting. Waiting to become something else, waiting to be that person I always thought I was on the verge of becoming, waiting for that life I thought I would have. In my head, I was always one step away. In high school, I was biding my time until I could become the college version of myself, the one my mind could see so clearly. In college, the post-college “adult” person was always looming in front of me, smarter, stronger, more organized. Then the married person, then the person I’d become when we have kids. For twenty years, literally, I have waited to become the thin version of myself, because that’s when life will really begin. And through all that waiting, here I am. My life is passing, day by day, and I am waiting for it to start. I am waiting for that time, that person, that event when my life will finally begin.
But this is what I’m finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I’m waiting for, that adventure, that movie-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets – this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of use will ever experience. From Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life” by Shauna Niequist.
So many years were spent chasing a bold life; one worthy of awe and accolades. That sort of life gleaned from movies and advertising never assembled itself for me because it does not exist. It is the American way for us to seek the impossible; to desire what can never be; to always want more than we have.
There are extraordinary moments in my life, but most of the are humble and small. In learning to appreciate the minute by minute trivial goodness of living I made the discovery I had long been living a remarkable and exceptional life. What a great gift to arrive at that realization and begin living in a way that embraces that reality. I am profoundly grateful for the insight.
When life is sweet,
say thank you and celebrate.
And when life is bitter,
say thank you and grow.