I think I am basically a happy person. I've always been someone who can (eventually) see the bright side of a situation. It's what I've been determined to do ever since arriving in London. I want to make this a happy home for my family. But what is happiness? And what do I need to do to get it?
I decided to do some errands and some thinking before I started to write. I changed the ink cartridge in the printer. I paid some bills. I filled out some change of address forms. But all the while, the happiness question was in the back of my mind. What I was really thinking about was, how much does my happiness depend on my frame of mind, and my choice?
Three words have been tumbling around in my mind, trying to settle themselves in their appropriate places. These words are: happiness, contentment, and joy. Are they all the same thing? I don't think so. The Bible says that joy is a fruit of the spirit. That means that if I have the Spirit of God present within me, I will manifest joy. It isn't a feeling, it is a fact. Joy, to me, is very bound up in peace and love and hope. I'm not trying to sound like a hippie here, but having joy, peace, hope and love is intrinsically a very spiritual thing. Joy is the way my world is coloured. A day is a day, but a day with joy is a Day! Even my bad days are coloured with joy. And that is certainly a part of happiness. But happiness is different. I always have joy. Sometimes I have to remind myself of it, but I do. Happiness is something I have to work on.
Distinguishing between contentment and happiness may be a little more difficult, but I think I can do it. Contentment is a general wellness, a feeling of being satisfied with the way things are. I am content in London. There are days that I am happy in London. But I had a lot more happy days in Fredericton than I do in London. I'm sure that will change as circumstances change. I can manage my contentment. I can decide to be content. I can't always decide to be happy. I can decide to focus more on the things that I know will make me happy, and I think that is the point of this whole exercise.
Focus. Seeing the glass half full. Choosing to hope. This is where we can find happiness. There are certain things that we know will make us happy. And if we first choose to be content with the life we have, and then choose to focus on the parts of that life that bring us happiness, we will find a lot more happy days.
So what are the things that bring me happiness? The list seems daunting, but I'm going to give it a shot:
- My children's voices (the happy ones, not the whiny ones)
- The smell of spring in the air
- The sound of my husband's voice on the phone, or even better, close to my ear in the dark.
- A free hour and a good book
- Scrapbooking (especially with friends)
- Big sloppy kisses from my kids
- A warm hug from a friend
- The sound of birds singing
- A classroom full of children eager to learn
- Dancing with my daughter to music turned up loud
- Hearing my son's basketball bouncing in the driveway
- Fresh school supplies in September
- Almost everything about Christmas
- Summer vacation (especially at the beach)
- A long talk on the phone with a friend
- My husband's "I love you"
- The peace I have after I've spent time in prayer and the Word
- The smell of hamburgers on the barbeque
- Shopping (especially with my Mom!)
- Hearing my kids playing with their cousins and knowing how they are best friends
- Writing every day