Monday, October 11, 2010

Deciding to be happy.

I was driving to a patient's home the other day and was behind a car with a bumper sticker that said, "Life sucks, be happy anyway." Truer words have never been spoken, or written.

Life indeed can and does suck. You do not have to be a hospice nurse to understand that. I see a lot of misery. I see a lot pf pain. But I also see something else; happiness despite all of it.

Anti-depressants are the number one prescribed medication in the world. I am sure that self-medicating with alcohol or street drugs trump those numbers 2:1. And why shouldn't people be unhappy. After all, life is hard. People disappoint us, money is tight, people get sick, the news is always bad, work is awful, things never seem to live up to the hype. Some days it seems that we need to just stay in bed with the covers over our heads and hide from the world.

But no one said life would be easy. No one said that we have a right to happiness. So, we should just grab happiness anywhere we find it. We can and must choose to be happy.

I was at the home of an 8 year old patient the other day. It is a sad scene. Here is a beautiful 8 year old with an inoperable brain tumor that will kill her in a few short months. It came on suddenly, and will kill her suddenly. She is still attending school. She has all of her hair. She does not look sick at all.

I look at her young mom. She is devastated. So is the dad. But in that house also lives a 12 year old sister. One with a full life ahead of her. So, do they succumb to doom and gloom? No. They grab any moment of happiness and go with it despite the pain they are feeling.

They choose to be happy.

Happiness is not something that we can feel all the time. But when we feel it, we should immerse ourselves in it. Really feel it. Ask yourself, when was the last time you felt pure happiness?

Many of us do not allow ourselves to be happy. Many wallow in misery and look for others to share their misery with. They are the Debbie and Donald Downers, and they are everywhere. They are hard to avoid. And they usually find a reason to be unhappy about any circumstance. I try to avoid them whenever possible.

Abraham Lincoln once famously said, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." And he was surely right about that. But he also said something better, that is not often quoted. He said, "I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow."

So, look at happy thoughts as a way of planting a few flowers in a yard full of weeds. Sometimes that is the best we can do. Life will always be hard. Bad things do indeed happen. Misery abounds.

But happiness is there, too. We just have to look for it and embrace it when ever we can.

My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it's on your plate. ~Thornton Wilder

The best vitamin to be a happy person is B1. ~Author Unknown

Jumping for joy is good exercise. ~Author Unknown

Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is. ~Maxim Gorky

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~Marcel Proust


  1. Well said..... being happy is a choice. I choose to be happy.