One morning I went out to check on my turtles and saw that one of the tiny strawberry plants I’d planted in one of their habitats had grown a petite perfect red strawberry on it! Oh the happiness – I was over the moon! And this was at a VERY high-stress time in my life. That single moment of pure happiness I permitted myself sustained me in ways I am still striving to fully appreciate.

I love movies.

If you’ve read my first book, “Beating Ana,” you probably already know this, since there is a whole section dedicated to some of my many favorite cinematic masterpieces.

But since that book was published in 2009, my favorites list has gotten much, much longer.

Recently, I’ve also noticed a bit of a theme that keeps cropping up in my on-screen selections.

Basically, at some point in the film, whatever it happens to be that day, one of the characters will casually remark, “But then I realized I am allowed to be happy.” There are variations on this theme as well. The character might instead say, “I deserve to be happy.” Or one character may remark to another character, “You are allowed to be happy.”

Since this is just one line in a whole film full of dialogue, when it happens and I notice, I figure it might be a message for me too. As in, I am allowed to be happy….I, me, personally.

As in, I don’t have to wait until all the issues in my life resolve or until I am sitting on a fat wad of extra cash or until I am feeling zero stress or seasonal allergies to feel happy. I can also feel happy now, even with all those other feelings or situations still remaining present.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, these days, every time I hear another film character say, “I am allowed to be happy,” it inspires me to look for tiny ways in my day to just be happy, just because it is possible, and just because I can. It inspires me to choose happiness, because choosing happiness is a choice I have – one choice among many, and also arguably the best choice among many.

For instance, I could be waiting on AAA to change my flat tire, and look up to notice the most beautiful cloud pattern in the sky and allow myself to feel so happy. 

I could be working on a particularly boring writing assignment only to look down and spy my pint-sized avian comfortably snoozing on my knee and allow myself that moment of pure happy bliss.

I could be waiting in line at the pharmacy and observe a moment of gentle kindness between a daughter and her elderly grandmother and allow the tiny wave of grateful joy that arises within to engulf me.

In other words, I could, can and am absolutely allowed to string together these tiny beads of happiness onto the bigger chain that is my life journey. I am also allowed to do this every day, multiple times each day. I am allowed to collect every “happiness bead” that presents itself, to feel it, experience it, add it to the chain, remember it, treasure it, share it.

I am now starting to suspect that I am allowed to feel much happier much more often than I have ever allowed myself to do in the past.

This makes me believe that you are too.

You are allowed to be happy, even while feeling very unhappy. You can allow yourself to be happy even when nothing about your life seems to be proceeding according to plan. You can permit yourself to find happy moments hidden in the midst of total mess, stress, struggle or pain.

For that matter, if a rogue blip of happiness pops up on your radar, you are absolutely allowed to nab it and feel it and give it a big hug and (if you like) pass it on, even if the rest of your day is totally suck-worthy.

I am totally excited about this, by the way. I am excited for me, and I am excited for you, and I am excited for us. There are so many reasons to feel sad, hopeless, downtrodden.

But there are also so many reasons to feel happy. And best of all, we are allowed to feel them!

Today’s Takeaway: Many years ago, I wrote a song I called “There’s Too Much Pain in the World (for me to hold).” Have you ever felt like that? Like – I can’t be happy, because the refugees are suffering, or because so many animals are endangered, or because someone I love is ill? I have – so many times! That empathy is a powerful mentor for good, but now I am wondering if allowing myself to feel happy anyway might be even more powerful. What do you think – I would love to hear your insights!

P.S. This post is from my free monthly e-newsletter, “Good News for Recovery + Life.” You can read the full edition HERE.