Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lesson Learned

I have a friend who keeps asking me when it will be her turn to be happy. She's waiting for everything to fall perfectly into place and for her life to look the way she pictured it years ago. Can I tell her when that will happen? Of course not - I can't even tell her if it will ever happen. What I can tell her is that she can be happy whenever she wants to be; it's up to her to decide.

Her response is usually that does not work for her. That everyone around her has it so much easier and she has no one to help her. She never gets a break, and it's been one thing after another for several years - and she's waiting for her turn. She seems upset with me, like she wishes I either had a better answer, or I would be as miserable as she.

The thing is, I do understand how she feels. I used to feel the same.

For too long, I thought happiness was something I was searching for. I thought it was a goal; a destination - and I thought it was alluding me. People would say to me all the time, "You decide when you're happy" or "You make your own happiness." I thought - pffft, that's ridiculous. Happiness is what happens when you have x, y or z happen. Some of us just aren't that lucky.

It turns out that I was woefully mistaken.

Happiness isn't something you find. It isn't a place that you go, or a person that you meet, or a thing that you do. Happiness doesn't happen to you. It is a quality; a state of mind. It's how you feel; how you approach life. Happiness is your attitude - it's something you make happen.

My friend disagrees. Her take is that I'm happy because my life fell into place and everything just goes my way. Well that's just not the case. I suppose I could tell her that I don't always feel secure with myself or my relationships. I could let her in on the fact that my financial situation has it's ups, and some extreme downs. I could lay it at her feet that I go to a job every day that I hate, knowing that I'll likely be laid off eventually. I could also remind her of everything I had to go through to get to this point. All the low points that my life hit before I finally decided I was done letting others decide my feelings for me.

Just smile.
But then I'd have to shift my focus to all that negativity. I prefer to focus on the fact that I have a job, for which I'm grateful. That I've learned in the last few years how to feel better about myself, and found ways to meet people, so that I feel more confident in myself and in my relationships. I want to focus on the time I spend laughing and smiling - which I've never had before. I want to be happy that, even though I don't always have the money to do what I want, I have what I need, and that's more than many.

I want my focus to be on the good in life. More than that, I want to put good into my life, so that I get good back. Like it says here.

Most of all, I want to stop apologizing for having learned this lesson first.


  1. To learn, you must first admit that you are wrong.

  2. Then I guess that means some people just won't ever learn. :(

  3. you shouldn't feel guilty for finding what happiness is to you. it's a shame your friend hasn't, and i'm sure you want to help her with that, but it shouldn't be at the sake of your own. i have a work-friend like that, she's always been so negative it's hard to bear sometimes. i love her, and want her to be happy, but sometimes i just have to walk away and shake my head. some people need more help then we as friends can provide.

  4. Thank you! She's a very good friend, and I really want her to be happy. I try to help. It never works.