The Secret To Happiness
How My Grandmother Gave Me The Key To Happiness In 3 Simple Steps
About 5 years ago, I was living in Savannah, Georgia. My grandmother lived in Texas and often sent me cards or care packages. My ex-husband had just told me that he wanted a divorce. I was probably not as devastated as some people may have been because I knew it was coming. But you always mourn the end of things- even when the end is good for you. My grandmother sent me a card. It was pink, and inside in her big loopy cursive script, she wrote a little poem. Take care, make time, before you know it- the sun will shine. To this day, those are the words I come back to again and again, like a favorite song, to ground me.
These words fascinate me because they summarize an enigma we struggle with every day. How do we achieve happiness? Why aren’t we happy? We read books on books, or watch video after video about what we should do. My grandmother boiled it down to just three basics for a truly happy life.
1. Take Care.
We probably hear this the most when researching how to have a happy life. Self-care. But it is a cornerstone of our happiness. If we wait for someone else to take care of us, and just continually put ourselves on the back burner, we will always be miserable.
I can remember when I first got promoted at work. Every single person told me to take care of myself. I agreed, but mostly just shrugged it off. I worked crazy long hours because I believed that if I could just get over the hump then I could relax and do some self-care. But guess what?
Every time I got over one hump, something else came up. Every time I would be at a spot where my team was getting recognized and winning awards, some “catastrophe” (in my mind) would happen. And I put myself on the back burner again.
So no matter how tired you are of hearing “do your self-care!” or “just get some fresh air!” the truth is that you need it. Whatever tiny little thing you’ve been denying yourself isn’t worth losing out on happiness. Whether it be a nice walk in the morning, doing a face mask once a week, or going to the doctor to keep yourself healthy- you deserve it. So take care, and be happy.
“I’m just so busy.” “There’s no way I can fit that in.” “I’d love to do that, but it just won’t work with my schedule.” Garbage. Lies. Excuses. We are all busy because no matter what you do (student, entrepreneur, stay at home mom) there is stuff going on in your life!
But for whatever reason, and I have been incredibly guilty of this too, you have made something else a priority. You’ve made a job you don’t like so important that you fall asleep on the couch before you can even say hello to your kids. You’ve let a relationship become so important that you bail on your friends every time you have plans. You’ve decided staying in place is so important that you won’t even apply for school to see what options are available to you. It’s time to take care of yourself.
2. Make Time.
We can always find time to fit in our priorities. Are your priorities out of whack? I’m not saying you have to uproot your entire life, quit your job and break up with your boyfriend tomorrow, and then move across the country. But when you write out your priorities in your heart, and then your priorities in reality- do they match? Make them. Make time and be happy.
3. Before You Know It- The Sun Will Shine
Finally, have faith. You don’t need to have a religious faith or think that a spiritual force will reward you or any number of the beliefs out there that you may or may not find ridiculous. Just have faith in you.
Sometimes, when I look back at my life and the issues I’ve overcome, I feel a little silly. I had someone gasp and hold my hands once, seemingly amazed that I could survive. But for me, they are just chapters of my life. They’ve built me into who I am today. Do some of the worse things still affect how I react in the world? Yes. That’s okay. I’m still working on it.
But my life is kind of like a line graph. Some little dips when there may have been a setback, but overall the line continues to move forward and up. I am certain that your line is similar- even if right now you are in a dip. Maybe currently it seems like your line has plummeted to the lowest low it could possibly be at. Have faith.
Before you know it- the sun will shine, and you will be happier.
If You’re Happy & You Know It- Clap Your Hands
This little piece of advice came to me a few years before my grandmother died. At her funeral, I got up in front of the people who had come to remember her. I’ve done theatre for many, many years- even performed professionally, but in that moment I had stage fright. The sea of faces was overwhelming.
Then my daughter- about to turn one and sitting in the first pew of the church- started clapping. I laughed, and told the church that she had just learned how. I told them the same story I just told you. How this secret to happiness came to me at a dip in the graph of my life. How if my grandmother could come and comfort those grieving- she’d tell them what she told me just a few years before.
So whatever it is that you are grieving- the loss of a marriage, the confusion over next steps, the feeling of failure- know that the secret to a happy life is really very simple. Take care, make time, before you know it- the sun will shine.