For many of us, it feels like we've been handed more than our fair share of problems. We look at our friends on Facebook - they are having so much fun, doing so many wonderful things in so many wonderful places. Then we look at ourselves. Our list of problems seems to be endless - financial, kids, health, work, relationships, etc. We just want to be happy, is that so much to ask?
I'm not here to give you all the answers or the secret to happiness. Heaven knows that although I am an optimistic person, I don't have a corner on happiness. I have my own share of problems, concerns and trials. What I can do is give you a few things to think about.
Consider the life of Viktor Frankl. He was a long-time prisoner in Nazi concentration camps. His father, mother, brother, and his wife died in camps or were sent to gas ovens, so that, excepting for his sister, his entire family was lost. He, more than anyone, would be able to claim that life has no meaning, no reason to be happy. Yet he said "When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves," and "between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."
His point is basically that happiness doesn't depend on your environment or circumstances. You can be in the lap of luxury and be miserable. You can be in the depths of deep trials and be content. Why? Because you are human. Other animals react automatically to their circumstances and environment. Only humans can pause, take a step back, and choose how they will react. Many people don't, and those people are reactionary and typically less happy.
I remember holding our youngest son in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at the hospital after being born seven weeks early. He was about the size of my hand. My wife had developed Preeclampsia which was starting to threaten her life. He came early and she was recovering from her condition at home. We had four other children. I had also been laid off of work. You could call that a serious combination of trials. Was I distraught and miserable? No. I felt buoyed by the support and prayers of others and spiritual comfort from God. I knew that however things worked out, it would be for the best. My baby, my wife and my family needed me and I was there for them. I look back on that experience with tender feelings and no bitterness.
That's fine, you say...sure, I can choose to have a good attitude, but that doesn't take the pressures of everyday life away. You might be stressed out due to financial problems, pressures at work, relationship issues, sickness and any other number of issues. That's a good subject for a future post, but here's another thought to consider. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a leader in the LDS Church, says: “The happiest people I know are not those who find their golden ticket; they are those who, while in pursuit of worthy goals, discover and treasure the beauty and sweetness of the everyday moments.”
Don't let what you're currently going through or the actions of others dictate your attitude. There's good, or at least things to learn from all around you. Discover it, recognize it, reflect on it and choose to be grateful, positive and yes, even happy.