Today I am turning 46.
It’s not every year a person turns 46, and it won’t happen twice.
All of which means I’m pretty excited about it (oh, and also about the large and delicious chocolate birthday cake that is rumored to be putting in an appearance later today).
But what excites me more than turning 46 itself is how every year when I reliably get older once again, life also gets increasingly better.
What I mean by this is that I feel more able to access peace, equipoise, humor, acceptance and happiness with each passing year.
I also don’t think this has anything to do with aging, per se. I think it has to do with lots of years-gone-by packed chock-full of hard, hard work.
For so many years I was working so hard and feeling like I was getting nowhere. I mean – No.Where. Like, will ANYthing EVER change?
In those years, the only thing scarier than doing the work was not doing the work, because then I knew for sure nothing would ever change.
But now, I am starting to see results. At last, a defining motto or theme has emerged that guides each decision, sorts out every dilemma, cuts through confusion and re-centers my focus. That motto is:
I want to be happy.
In other words, I could get upset that (insert favorite jacket, cherished old jeans, cute platform clogs, etc, here) no longer fits. I could even attempt to do what it would take to re-fit into the item in question, knowing at a level of great detail what that would require and how far backwards away from happiness I would have to go to get there.
But….I want to be happy.
I could go look for a “regular” job that pays more green paper than the freelance writing work I currently do so I could buy a new car or a tiny house or (fill in the blanks with desired financially out-of-reach item here).
But….I want to be happy.
I could attempt to change my (boyfriend, best friend, relative, pet, et al) to behave or speak or dress more to my liking, or swap these out for others who are more likely to conform to my ideal-whomever or to the exacting standards of those who just “want the best” for me and are not pleased with my current choices.
But….I want to be happy.
Starting this past year, during my 45th year of life, this all became so crystal clear.
There is always a choice towards or away from happiness. Sometimes choosing to move closer to happiness will require work, and sometimes it will only require letting go of work.
For instance, in the first example of the item that no longer fits, I could also acquire a new, larger version of that item. Then it would fit me at my current size in my current life AND I would also feel very happy to wear it.
In the second example of seeking different work, I could also recognize all the perks that come with freelancing from home – benefits that are literally beyond price (such as being able to work from home in my jammies while my cute feathered writing assistant naps on my knee), and realize my actual “salary” is so much more than just the green paper in my bank account….and also way more than any “regular job” could likely ever pay me.
In the third example, I could trade out (or trade up, as some would call it) to ensure my time is spent with individuals who like to be customized according to my preferences. Or I could welcome the challenge of connecting with authentic, honest individuals who are being their true selves and want me to have the courage to learn to do likewise.
In each example (and so many more besides) there is always a choice.
And the choice is always simple: to move farther away from or closer to happiness.
And this happiness is not the happiness of having a “perfect” life that everyone else in my life agrees with and supports. It is also not the happiness of looking great in everything I try on in the store or never having to save my pennies or being worshipped up on my high pedestal by those closest to me.
It is the happiness of finding a deeper happiness than any of that.
It is the happiness of learning to count my blessings in more than dollars and cents.
It is the happiness of discovering I can be happy – really and truly happy – at a bigger size, with a smaller paycheck or in a partnership where saying “I’m sorry” and “thank you” are regular required parts of each day.
I look back on my 45th year of life that has just now passed and am so grateful to these past 365 days for giving me the option to choose happiness AND the wisdom to discern which choice is most likely to deliver on its happiness promises.
So in this next year, my 46th year, I am again choosing to be happy. In fact, my plan is to be as happy as I can be as often as I can be each and every day of my 46th year.
Thanks to year #45, I know that I can. In year #46, I plan to prove it.
Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever had to make a choice between feeling happy and getting something you think or say you want? How have you been able to tell the difference between something you have been told will make you happy or something you think will make you happier than you are now, and true happiness? What are your favorite methods for choosing happiness when the path towards it is not clear?