Happiness is defined differently by everyone. Some people are born with happy spirits, and others spend their lives searching for an elusive happiness. I was fortunate to be one of those born with a spirit that finds happiness in simple pleasures. When I was young, I dreamed of a “happily every after,” which never came to be. My marriage was a difficult one. We worked very hard at our family business, but never seemed to make quite enough to succeed, and my husband became partially disabled just before recession hit our country and bankrupted us.
I was blessed with three beautiful children, who were the greatest gifts of my life, and now I have been fortunate to be very close to my grandchildren, who have filled my heart with love since the first moment I held them as newborns. Who can be unhappy when your heart is full?
Somehow, though, as I reach my “golden years” I find that I must work a bit harder at being happy. My husband’s disability left him with a fatigue which makes any enjoyable outings difficult. We struggle financially, so even a dinner out is a rarity. I have begun to have some of the health issues which come with aging, and I find that, even with health insurance, our co-pays and prescriptions take a large chunk of money from our budget. I listen to friends talking about their vacations and evenings out, and I can’t help but feel a bit envious. I watch older couples whose marriages are strong and loving, and I wish my own had been better.
I am, however, surrounded by blessings; as I sit here writing, the birds are singing outside my window, the early morning sunlight touches the lovely trees in our neighborhood, and the air is perfumed with the phlox blooming beside my porch. I find great comfort in my lovely old Victorian home — she may be a bit frayed around the edges, as am I, but she has been my safe haven for forty-five years, holding all of my cherished belongings and memories.
And so, I try to find my happiness in these simple gifts life offers. I read and I write; I sit on my lovely porch and watch the birds, squirrels, chipmunks and deer at the bird feeders. I tend my garden and look with joy upon each new blossom. I spend time with friends and family. A simple lunch with a good friend is a joyful event. Listening to the chatter of my grandchildren fills my heart. A walk with a neighbor through a local garden or trail can be the highlight of a day. A meal with my children is always a special treat. I have found that happiness is not something that “comes to us.” We must discover it for ourselves in each small moment of our days.