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Happiness is a choice

I awoke eager to start my day.  After making my first cup of coffee I sat down, made a to-do list for today, then settled in with the morning paper.   Still no Speaker of the House given the insanity of the MAGA maniacs.  A mass shooting in Maine.  What is happening to our beloved country?  Why can’t we choose to get along?  What is there in the human psyche that longs to dominate and control?  Why are we so willing to nurse our hurts instead of tapping into our inherent goodness?

As I loaded the clothes washer, I began reminding myself of all that is good.   Yesterday a friend and I took a load of supplies to our church’s  material aid center.  We drove through miles of trees showing off their colorful garb before undressing for a long winter’s nap.  After we unloaded the car and thanked the volunteers who were working on various projects,  we stopped for lunch.  Watching my 91 year old friend tuck into his seafood dinner, I couldn’t help but give myself an appreciative hug.  It felt so good to watch him having such a good time.  Once home,  another friend called to ask a favor. Could I pick up several residents in a personal care home so they could attend church on Sunday? Another called to ask if I could help at the polls in November.  Little things, but vitally important as they reminded me that small gestures of kindness and cooperation can mean so much.   Coming out of my year-long journey with grief I am discovering that even though my life companion is no longer here, one of the best ways I can keep his memory alive and take care of myself is by practicing random acts of kindness as he did so often.  

I have given up on saving the world.  I have no choice but to leave the end results in God’s hands.  All I can do is all I can do.  Even so, my small bit is important as is yours.   I can be far more intentional about affirming others.  Saying thank you is important, as is tipping generously or taking time to listen when someone needs to talk.  Saying hello to strangers and friends is important,  just as swallowing my grumbles and smiling instead.  As lines in Just for Today reads: “Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways.  I will do somebody a good turn, and not get found out.  I will do two things I don’t want to do – just for exercise.  I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt or that I am fearful or angry.  I may be upset but I will not show it.”    

I’ve learned it’s one thing to acknowledge and value my feelings, it’s another thing altogether to allow my feelings to control me and my responses.  I can be just as happy or unhappy as I make up my mind to be.  Happiness and gratitude are choices, just as negativity is a choice.  We take care of ourselves by interacting and working with others, as Bishop Tutu and the Dalai Lal remind us.  Much of our anger and unhappiness comes from feeling unimportant, ignored, less than.  When we reach out to others, we are affirming ourselves as well as them. 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.  Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it,  trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will, so I may be reasonably happy in this life.  Amen”   

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