When Happiness Eludes Us

When Happiness Eludes Us

This week’s inspiration comes from a post I snagged from somewhere on social media. The photo drew me in, but was its statement stopped me cold.

You're going to be happy, said life, but first I will make you strong.

I shook my head and released a slow, deep sigh, smiling at those words that resonated so deeply.

Is that what life is doing to me? Making me strong?

Happiness can be elusive. We think we have it in our grasp and then something unexpected happens and it slips through our fingers. That uplifting positive spirit that we fight so hard to keep simply evaporates, floating away effortlessly.

And we are shocked. Then angry.

For many of us, we are angry again. We are tired of the unexpected.

Maybe our body misbehaves. Maybe we wince in pain from another’s unthinking words or inexplicable actions. Maybe we find ourselves coping with loss when we’re sure this time we should have been a winner.

It’s hard not to sit on the edge of that pit, the one we fight so hard to avoid: the pit of self-pity.

“Life is difficult,” Scott Peck wrote nearly forty years ago in his book, The Road Less Traveled. My father gave me that book after my 17-year-old brother died in a water-skiing accident. I was twenty. I remember reading that line, the very first words of his book, and thinking what a pessimist this guy must be.

I didn’t want his outlook.

Now I see it differently. Accepting life and all its difficulties does not mean that life isn’t good; it means we all will face challenges of one sort or another. No matter how much planning we do or preparations we make, there will be obstacles. The unexpected awaits.

That’s not pessimism. That’s realism.

I read the statement on the social media meme once more:

“You’re going to be happy,” said life. “But first I will make you strong.”

Somehow those words gave me comfort. To me it was the message that happiness is ahead; meanwhile, I’ll become strong. Like the training before the competition. The study before the exam. The rehearsal before the performance. Or even the heartbreak of loss before the joy of winning or a new beginning.

How about you? Does your “meanwhile experience” make you strong? Is happiness made even richer because of the struggle? Tell me about it. I’d love to know.

Meanwhile, we keep moving forward. I’m reminded of Susan Shapiro’s advice that I shared in a column I wrote about dealing with uncertainty.

“When in doubt, do your life.”

So I will. And I hope you do, too.

My best–always,

Becky  (Nana B)

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