Sunday, November 16, 2014

Be happy today.....

Good morning! Some might challenge our thinking by saying that we would not be seeking to change our life if we were truly happy with our current state. In some cases, that is true and most of us who are already on a journey, or those of you seeking to start one or get back on track, would likely agree that we want to change some things in order to be happy.

 Certainly my life was the pits when I weighed over 400 pounds, was unable to walk, and was in constant pain, but still, in the midst of that, were some moments of happiness spent with loved ones and at my job; the joy was just buried under layers of excess weight and often hidden behind the pain, but it surfaced from time to time. As a gardener, I like to imagine that joy like a tulip bulb yet to blossom….and yet, it was THERE….just not fully experienced. Those days were difficult, no doubt, but by no means were there a total waste of life/breath. After all, there is value even in struggle, it’s just really hard to see it when we are in the midst of the heartache when all we can do is try to get through the day.  Today I am able to look back and realize that without those dark days/experiences/losses, I would not know JOY like I do today, for they were part of the process of transformation. Learning to be grateful and find a bit of joy/peace/happiness in the dark times is something I really desire because life is a mixture of day/night, rain/sun, good/bad, and there will likely be difficult days in the future.

  Happiness, I think, is a bit different than contentment.  Contentment, to me, means being satisfied with “What is” and not really believing or desiring to have it any other way. “Yeah, so what….life isn’t what I hoped it would be; in fact some days, it stinks; I guess I’ll always be fat, poor, unappreciated; taken advantage of….this ISN’T how I thought I’d be at 30 or 40 or 50 but I guess it’s the hand I was dealt” kind of thinking might mean one is content…..but…..does that mean that life can never be any better? Contentment is a good trait in some ways, but in others, it may cause one to stay ‘stuck’ in a situation/reality that could be so much better.  Thoughts like, “Well, I have to die of something, why should I try to quit smoking or drinking” or “So what if my blood pressure is high, they have medicine for that” or
“My husband likes me ‘just the way I am so why should I try to lose weight” comes from being content with one’s reality and often keeps one from taking steps to improve one’s health.

I always want to be GRATEFUL for everything, but at the same time, to seek ways to be better; try harder; draw closer to God and make a difference to the world. To me, happiness….a deep down joy….comes from knowing and believing that God is present in the midst of all things and that He is directing the orchestra that I call “life” REGARDLESS of the clanging, sometimes off-key, sounds coming from the instruments!  It’s knowing and believing that even in the midst of struggle; even if there are things that I want to change; even though there are habits I want to break; and pounds I still want to shed, that GOD is present and will help me improve my reality, but nonetheless, I can find happiness in the HERE AND NOW….as well as in the journey…..and when I reach my goals. 

Too often we think that accomplishing a goal; reaching a target; losing the weight; or graduating from school will automatically make us HAPPY.  TRUE….you will find great joy in achieving your goal….BUT…..unless you work to change your thoughts and work to change the “inside” then any happiness at the end will only be temporary.  Once you reach your weight loss goal and buy a new wardrobe; once you earn the 60 day or 1 year chip and feel like you are finally ‘smoke/drug/alcohol-free”; once you get your last child through college or are able to retirement and can take a vacation, you will, no doubt, be happier than you are today.  BUT….how long will it last….and more important…..WHAT IF…you don’t get there?  What if you never find a spouse; never get a better job; never are able to buy a new house or have a grandchild? Why put off being happy UNTIL then?  Why not seek JOY now…during the journey?   I assure you, if you really look for it, you can find peace and happiness along the way. CELEBRATE the journey; rejoice in the small victories; enjoy the process of change NOW…..don’t put it off UNTIL…….because “UNTIL” may never come, and if it does, you might just be a thinner, healthier version of the OLD YOU with more time/money on your hands. That doesn’t necessary mean “HAPPIER!” 

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to say.  I am so much happier today than I was 3 years ago. Losing weight has literally changed my life….but it has done more than change my size….it has changed my thinking; my reacting; my behavior; my outlook on life.  Being free from the bonds of obesity and immobility is an incredible gift….but being free from shame, fear, pain, and hopelessness is even better. Of course I’m happier these days than I’ve ever been…..and no doubt, I’ll be happier a year from now than I am today….but only a small part of it will have to do with weight.  Weight loss made it easier to recognize true JOY and allowed me the experiences that bring happiness…..but there is and was happiness before, during, and after…..I just didn’t see it.  Losing weight has helped me take the focus off my misery and provided me with opportunities and experiences that allow me to make a difference and help others. It has also brought some incredibly wonderful people into my life….people that I would have likely never met before. I has brought the freedom to be able to walk and move and do things I never dreamed possible. It has brought confidence in knowing that I can, with God’s help, do whatever I put my mind to, and it has caused me to feel “useful” again.  THAT…is where my happiness/joy comes from! 

Knowing GOD is has blessed me with a miracle and being able to share that miracle with others equals JOY. Knowing God has set me free and is transforming my mind and heart and being fully aware of His presence in my life equals HAPPINESS.  Knowing that God is with me and in charge of whatever comes my way; whatever struggles/heartaches/temptations or set-backs might lie ahead……AND……in whatever incredible experiences/sights/people that are on my horizon equals PEACE.  My heart is overflowing with gratitude for WHAT IS....and in many ways, WHAT WAS……and WHAT IS YET TO BE!

My wish or you today, my friends, is that you are able to find happiness TODAY….in the NOW…..and yet, at the same time, to know that as you change your life, you will come to know a joy like you’ve not known….but it has only a small part to do with your physical reality.  I encourage you to try to find something for which to be joyful for today…..and to celebrate the journey as well.  Don’t put off happiness…it can be yours today!  Have a beautiful Sunday!