Have you ever had someone ask you, “What do you want?” I’m sure you have. You may have responded by sharing the new Samsung or iPhone that just came out, a long awaited trip or something else that has been on your bucket list. When we dig a little deeper to find the root cause of our response, we often reply “I just want to be happy.”
Seeking happiness in time of chaos
When things in our life are stretching us thin and you feel like you are at the end of your rope, you yearn to just get through the day, event, circumstance or unwelcomed episode in our life. You feel so trapped as if you are stuck in a room with the water rising and you only have space for your nostrils to inhale the limited air supply. You want somebody or something to just pull the plug on the drain, allowing the water level to lower and for you to breathe. Sometime that plug can come in an unexpected present.
In the summer of 2013, Khnuma (my sister) came home with a “just because…” gift. She owns an adorable boutique in downtown Christiansted, St. Croix US Virgin Islands called My Girlfriend’s Closet and just got in a new shipment. With her passion for fashion, while inspiring and supporting women, she surprised me with gifts for her Big Sis (Me!). This time it wasn’t a designer dress or stiletto pumps. Rather, she brought me a journal and a quotable canvas. Scribed on the journal were the words:
This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, Smiles when sadness intrudes, Rainbows to follow the clouds, Laughter to kiss your lips, Sunsets to warm your heart, Hugs when spirits sag, Beauty for your eyes to see, Friendships to brighten your being, Confidence for when you doubt, Faith so that you can believe, Courage to know yourself Patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.
My heart swelled and eyes welled with tears as I realized that the external chaos of my life was in direct relationship to the internal struggles that I was experiencing. After months of trying to avoid, forget, pretend everything is ok and just get through, I realized that I was one of the lowest points in my life. I was stuck. The worst thing is I didn’t know what to do or how to fix it. Definitely not an admission the overachiever in me wanted to make publicly, so I resorted to making the first entry in the privacy of my journal, “Today begins the rest of my life!”
The pursuit of happiness
For two months straight I wrote in my journal almost every day, putting my thoughts on paper even if they made no sense. I had diagrams, lines drawn and color coding all over the pages as I try to free myself from this stuck state. Little did I know at the time that as I gut wrenchingly placed the thoughts on the pages, the freeing of my internal struggles realigned my external world. I was becoming happier. Everything was going great…and then the bottom fell out!
You see, the other part of my gift (the quotable canvas) sat on my vanity and I occupied space with it every morning & night as I got ready for the day or bed. Isn’t it funny how some of the most important reminders that we prominently place before us, can seem invisible until life happens? The quotable canvas my sister gave me years before stated,
“Peace. it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”(unknown).
(Hit me over the head with a ton of bricks, why don’t ya??!!)
More than happiness…I want peace.
Happiness for many of us are fleeting moments in time. It can come with a new acquisition, time with friends, experiences that are desirable or turn out well. Peace however requires a spirit of gratitude for the desired & unwelcomed circumstances in your life. Peace comes with that “quiet knowingness” that you will make it through and in the end, all will be well. When you have peace, you can be happy.
What can you do today to bring more peace and happiness into your life?
With much love, acceptance and peace.
Originally published in 2015