Updated: Mar 2, 2020
I recently read a post on social media which asked for books on finding happiness. There were several suggestions of various books and authors. I made suggestions also. However, I immediately realized my mistake and revised my response.
If you are looking for some reading material to gain more happiness in your life, the best book I could ever recommend is a gratitude journal. Happiness isn't lost. You don't need to go searching for it. It's not in a book and it's not on a podcast.
There is a country song called, Life Ain't Always Beautiful by Gary Allan. I wish I could quote every word in the song, but I am sure that would be some sort of plagiarism, so I will attempt to summarize to get the point across. The song eludes to the fact he has lost someone very close to him and he misses them terribly. The lyrics talk about how the struggles make you stronger and how sometimes life is just plain hard and it will even break your heart. But, the line I like best is, "Life ain't always beautiful, but it's a beautiful ride." This song speaks to my soul.
You see, in two-thousand-five the song came out and that was the same year I got divorced and my sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. That's right, I am not writing this as someone who has never known a struggle or a heartbreak.
In two thousand eight I relied on family, friends, faith, music and gratitude to get me through the loss of my sister.
How can I say gratitude in the same sentence as loss? I say it because I was blessed enough to have her for the beautiful ride. I say it because I was given the gift of my amazing, beautiful, sweet, kind, caring sister to carry with me in my heart. I was the lucky one, the blessed one, the favored one who got to be her sister for thirty nine years of my life.
I watched her smile and laugh all of her days. I watched her create relationships with doctors and nurses and other patients and they grew to love her and see how amazing she was also.
The day I lost her was my darkest day, but because of her, I could see that I had been given so much beauty. I had her for a short time and my life was better because of that. I have to share whatever beauty I can with the world. I feel like Mr. Allan knew her when he wrote about tears falling, missing her smile and her pretty face and walking all these lonely miles.
Sometimes all we need is a better way to look at things. Here is the scenario. You get up and it is dark and dreary. You can't find your keys and you will probably be late for work. Someone cuts you off and you spill coffee on your shirt on the way to work. Ugh. Nothing is going right. Your day is ruined.
Now let's look at it from a new, grateful perspective. You get up and write down in your journal you are grateful to be awake and have a job. You are grateful you have a car to drive to work. You are grateful for hot coffee on such a dreary day. You are grateful for a sense of humor so you can laugh at yourself when you do something silly like spill coffee on yourself. You are grateful you don't have a boss that will fire you if you are a few minutes late. Everything is good. This is a great day full of possibilities.
My friend, I promise you, that which you focus on you will see more of. If you focus on the negative things in your life you will have more problems and more pain and more suffering. If you focus on all that is beautiful and wonderful and amazing you will find more things to be happy and grateful and excited about. If you have never done this before, start small with something like, "I am grateful I woke up today" or "I am grateful I can write in my journal today."
No matter what life throws at you, you have it within you to gather the beautiful pieces of your broken self, cherish the memories, focus on the good and create more beauty. Life ain't always beautiful, but it's a beautiful ride. Be grateful for the ride.