Happiness is usually seen as dependent on circumstances, people, or both. Most people would see it as a feeling that results from receiving, accomplishing, experiencing something good, or being with someone who makes them feel good.
So what happens to happiness when circumstances go awry, when storms come, when people hurt us?
I think of the Beatitudes, and their paradoxical truths:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit...,” those who are at the end of their rope.
“Blessed are those who mourn...,” those who experience loss.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness...,” those who dare stand up for what they believe, at great cost.
How easy it is for those who are undergoing these circumstances not to be happy.
I recently have been through one of my most hellish and emotionally brutal two weeks in recent years. I got hit with a triple whammy, a perfect storm that blindsided me, knocked the air from my lungs, hurled me underwater, and altered my coastlines forever.
It was easy for me to feel lost, dejected, hurt, betrayed. No happy feelings there.
Yet, how did the Beatitudes describe those in dire circumstances? Blessed. One definition of “blessed” is blissfully happy and content. Talk about raising the happiness bar!
How can we be happy amidst difficulties? Here is what got me through:
Happiness is a choice. I’ve been through storms to last me a couple of lifetimes, enough to teach me that ultimately, it’ll all work for my good. When I choose to focus on the silver lining, my perspective changes and I’m able, by God’s grace, to give thanks for the good that lies ahead. That’s something to be happy about.
Happiness is a condition. It’s not a result of good happening, but a condition for it to happen. They say that after a hurricane, the shoreline can look pristine and even sparkly, as a result of the intense pressure it has undergone. Storms have a way of bringing out the best in us, but only when embraced with an attitude of joy.
Happiness is a consequence. Happiness is a choice we make before and during the storm and a condition crucial in determining how we emerge from it. Happiness is also an exhilarating outcome resulting from knowing we have overcome and are stronger for it.
As I assess how I’ve fared in the happiness department recently, I asked my daughter Lalli, who along with other family and friends stood by me, to rate me. She gave me a 3 on a scale of 10. To have gone through what I have and still get that score means only one thing—I am truly blessed.
DONNA IMSON is executive chairperson of
an international network marketing company
based in the Pacific Rim. She is an accomplished
network marketer, much sought-after speaker
and a role model for entrepreneurial aspirants,
especially single mothers like herself.