Friday, October 8, 2010


How is your level of happiness?  What mood are you in when you wake up each day?

I have received an e-mail from my ex-husband about Happiness.  It touched a real sensitive aspect of me and I wrote him a long e-mail about the subject.  I wanted to express my thoughts and feelings about this important theme.

Happiness does not hit us on the head with a big bang.  Its subtleties reach us in gentle manners.  It just whispers softly in our ears and is brought with the wind as we wake up to greet the day.  And I do not think that happiness is only a choice.  That would be too easy.  I think that happiness grows on us like a song and installs itself with some struggle in our psyche.

I strongly believe that happiness is the best celebratory feeling I know.  It is filled with compassion and understanding and a sense of joy about one's self, one's actions, and life in general.  If you add to all this an eye and appreciation for natural beauty, an ability to be generous and give, and an appreciation of all the wonders of the world and the day, we have a real graceful bliss.  The courage to be happy is a great joy.

That of course does not mean we cannot be sad or grieve or encounter pain, it simply means that by choice, we place our focus on other things the best we can and enjoy our lives no matter what.  The sadness, when embraced and accepted, not pushed out of sight or covered up, flows down the river of our days and leaves us stronger.

I am always surprised at people who have so much and maybe because they have so much are blown away by the slightest event or painful episode in their life. They have not experienced the strength that facing life's problems will create inside of us.  We gain a real amount of confidence and resilience by showing our fighting spirit and putting order and joy in our lives especially when it is threatened.

In this country, many of us are now super spoiled with so many benefits, so many perks, so many gadgets, so many gifts and abundance that we consider all this a normal thing.  Yet a great part of the world lives without any of it.  When one of these perks is taken away, we often come close to collapse.

There are so many depressed people who have no reason, that I can see or know, to be depressed.

Doctors make a lot of money treating depression and sometimes have to end their treatment when their patient commits suicide;  like a dear friend of mine who jumped last year from a tall bridge.  Yet from all appearances, she and many others had everything they needed to be happy.  I often wonder what goes on in their mind and what created the depression.

This is one of the reasons some older people are precious to me.  They are part of another generation that has endured and appreciates the gifts of life.  I remember a dear friend in Peru, an American, telling me that during the great depression he had to go to school without shoes, even in winter.  That created in him an ability to face adversity and win.  I went through many of the atrocities of the dictator Duvalier in Haiti, yet life is to me now an everyday event fit to celebrate.

I think that choosing to be happy is an evidence of lack of self-pity and a wonderful habit that we can encourage and nurture until it becomes ingrained.  Our heart needs to soar and be present with our feelings and our relationship with others.  Happiness can be filled with sadness and tears can be of great joy.

There are so many little reasons to be happy we can catch them like a fisherman on the shore and then take our catch home -- inside of us.

Copyright Micheline Brierre 2010
With editing by Barry Kaplan