Posted by: Jenny | January 1, 2013

Lucky ’13

Yesterday morning, I was thinking about the upcoming year, and decided to dub it “Lucky ’13”. In a previous New Year’s post, I spoke about how silly it is to attribute anything to a year, a number, as life does not stop and begin again at midnight at the end of a year. I still believe that. However, I wonder now if I need to believe that this does indeed happen in order to see hope and possibility in the future.

Is that how it works? Do we need arbitrary demarcations in order to start fresh? To adjust our attitudes, or expectations, or abilities? Maybe we do. Maybe that’s how we are programmed. We expect a conclusion to books we read, movies we watch. Why not in our own lives?

And so, I’m now looking forward to Lucky ’13. I’ve decided that naming the feelings of hope that I have for an easier, peaceful year may help my quest to achieve one. 

I nearly said “happier” instead of “peaceful”. A slip of the mind, thinking that easy and peaceful equates happiness, when I know better. I’ve learned that being happy is not dependent upon circumstances, but by something internal that allows one to be satisfied with self. I’ve known people who suffer physically or emotionally but can still find the good in life. Likewise, I know people who can only see the negative, the down side, who expect nothing but trouble and hassle and heartbreak in every situation, even when their lives are smooth sailing.

How does one find this, that inner peace that allows one to weather the rocky waves, the tsunamis and the calm waters that come with life? To see potential in every day, instead of danger? Is it something we’re born with, or is it cultivated by experience? Or do our parents instill the attitude by which we live our lives?

Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above. But I think, even then, it must be a conscious choice to be happy. Otherwise, how do you explain siblings who have divergent attitudes about life? The sister who lives by can’t/won’t/shouldn’t, while the brother can/will/shall, all the while being raised by the same parents, sharing the same genetic background. 

Is this too simplistic? I’m sure psychiatrists would say yes, pointing to study after study, diagnoses and outcomes, that suggest or prove that a delicate balance of chemistry, psychology and environment determine one’s perspective. But when I look at a friend’s photos of a mission trip to Africa and see the dozens of smiling faces amid squalor and despair, I wonder. We all know people who’ve gone through terrible ordeals – loss of a child, or a terminal illness – and see them continue to get up and face the world with hope, well, that’s happiness. They have rights to bitterness and negativity, but instead turn to the future.

I look inside and know that I am happy. Happiness that transcends the pain and challenges that dog me and threaten to drag me off track. So I look to Easy and Peace to be Happiness’s companions this year. Peace seems to go hand-in-hand with Happiness, and I feel confident I can achieve it.  Can Easy be a state of mind, rather than a set of circumstances? Or is it determined by skill or luck?

That remains to be seen. I hope so. I’ll be challenged, no doubt; what fun is life without challenges? Rather, I mean Easy, as in solvable, or doable, fixable or relenting. My life has been a series of unrelenting medical issues, and it’s exhausting. I spent nearly as much time at the doctor, in the hospital or in physical therapy as I did at work. My husband lost a brother and his mother this year. He also lost his job. Easy? Not by a long shot. Peaceful? Meh. Happy?

Yes. I am happy. I was broken, physically and emotionally, yet happiness was my ever-present roommate. I laugh, appreciate, love and hope. And now, my sights are set on Peace and Ease. I’ll probably have to chase after them both, rather than wait for them to find me, and so be it.

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