Half Empty, Half Full

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“Are you happy?”

It’s not a question that someone recently asked me, but rather the one I ask myself on a regular basis. 

When I’m working uninterrupted at my computer, I’m happy. When I’m sharing a delicious meal with loved ones, or receiving good news, I’m happy. There are obviously people and circumstances that evoke happiness within us.  

In contrast, there are people and circumstances who induce anything but happiness.  

So, emotions are transient; they change with any given day and situation. 

However, I’m talking about the overarching view of our experiences; a more existential perspective like “What is the meaning of life?” Or, more specifically, “Does my life have meaning?”

Like everyone else, I’ve faced challenges along the way. Some people have endured far more than me, and others not nearly as much: 

  • Two decades in a toxic marriage, but I did get out.
  • Always yearning for the college degree that I gave up, and finally graduating in 2013.
  • Putting my ailing father in a nursing home, where he lasted nine months.
  • Mustering the courage to leave the familiar to pursue something better, only to  realize the value of familiar, while redefining better.

Thinking back over these difficulties, I will say that the outcomes were positive. Or were they?

Some people might focus on all the lost years and missed opportunities, which culminated in my current situation. I’m no longer gainfully employed, have no assets, and are attempting a new beginning.

What I do have is my health, people who care about me, and the belief that good things eventually come to those who wait, work, and believe.

If we obsess about the level of the water instead of celebrating the glass, we lose the ability to recognize happiness in any amount.

So, maybe happiness is really just perspective. After all, there will always be bumps in the road. But, how we view those bumps and navigate that road ultimately determines our destination. 

 

Discover Challenge: Tough Questions

 

Gratitude Journal – Prompt #11

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Photo credit: Pedro Lastra/StockSnap.io

What holiday are you grateful for?

30 Days of Gratitude

Day #11 of the 30 Days of Gratitude prompts asks us which holiday we appreciate the most. My answer is that I enjoy most of the ones we celebrate here in the United States.

Holidays usually mean time off from work and the fast paced lives we lead. However, getting ready for the celebrations themselves can be a lot of work!

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorites. Who doesn’t enjoy a day filled with delicious foods, family, and playing board games or watching football?

I have fond memories of waking up to the sounds of pots and pans banging around in the kitchen. The unmistakable aroma of stuffed turkey wafted up the stairs, as I scrambled out of bed to watch the Macy’s parade on TV. I marveled at the size of the giant balloons and always wished I could be in New York City for the festivities.

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Against the cacophony of the hand mixer and other assorted sounds, I could hear my mom and grandma (fighting) in the kitchen. My dad would warn us not get “underfoot.” 

I helped set the table using the good china and gold flatware. We used a fancy table cover and cloth napkins and some years I even made small place cards. We lit the candles with their autumn flower rings, enjoying the scent of cinnamon and apples. Some years we had wine and the children were given a small glass. I didn’t care much for the taste in those days, but certainly enjoy a Cabernet today!

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We looked forward to the yummy desserts, as well. Apple pie was my favorite and I came to appreciate pumpkin pie (with a healthy dollop of whipped cream) in my later years. There were usually cookies, a nut roll and other assorted goodies.

All of these memories come flooding back as the sights, sounds, and smells occur every year. Of course, the setting has changed and the people have grown up and grown old. Some are no longer with us. 

What remains the same are the emotions that all of the familiar sights and sounds evoke. These feelings of anticipation, gratitude, and nostalgia are an important part of the magic that makes holidays so special!

Carpe diem!