“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”
– Dalai Lama XIV
I had a tough week last week. Not terrible, certainly not tragic. It was simply a week filled with snippets of bad news, a small but steady trickle of minor disappointments, and a mind filled with fears of a future that hopefully won’t materialize.
On one particularly challenging day, I found myself crying more often than not. Breath practices, meditations, even walking my dog—nothing really helped. My mind simply needed the catharsis of tears.
When my husband came home from work, we decided to go out for dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant. I always look forward to eating there, not just for the food, but because of the staff, particularly one always-bubbly waitress.
Shortly after we sat down, she bounced up to our table with her usual sparkle, seeming–as always–happy to see us. She leaned down to fill our water glasses and asked, “How are you two doing tonight?”
Afraid I might burst into tears if I lied, I answered with the truth.
The resulting conversation surprised me. When I told her that I’d had a rotten week and was feeling blue, she replied that her week had been awful too, and that such feelings are common for her.
I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that I told her I was surprised because she always seemed so happy. She replied with a single sentence.
“I believe happiness is a choice.”
Immediately, I knew she was right. I would only make one revision: “Happiness is a choice, just not an easy one.”
The yoga teachings never promised that life would be easy. Our hopes won’t always be realized. People may treat us unkindly. Frankly, sometimes life seems unfair as hell. We can’t control that.
But we can choose to be happy anyway.
We can look for the small things that give us joy. We can greet relative strangers as if seeing them were the highlight of our day. We can cry for a day—or a week—if we need to, then wake up again, determined to find and create joy.
It’s not always easy. Frankly, smiling through the rest of that dinner took a lot more effort than dissolving into tears. But I realized that my attitude had impact: on my world as well as on me personally.
Here is my learning for the week: I can wear my heartache like a lead-lined raincoat, or I can hang it in the closet, go back out into the world, and search for all of the positive, wonderful, amazing things that give me joy. Today, I choose to be happy.
What will you choose?
Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and other retailers!