Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive. I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.
– Dalai Lama
One of my favorite quotations. I’m going to try to think about this as I literally wake up in the morning. I’ve noticed that I tend to think about motivating and uplifting quotations when I’m in a good mood (reinforcing my state of being at that moment) but less so when I’m in need of an emotional/mental/spiritual pick-me-up. Rather than applying a band-aid just when I’m down, it would be more beneficial to live life like this. If vitamins help boost your immune system when you might be getting sick, then just take them everyday, right?
The reason I love this quotation is because it assumes an enormous amount of potential resides in each person, every day. It’s as if we each have a responsibility to appreciate what we have and to make the most of what we’ve been blessed with. It assumes that yes, you have been blessed with something. And if you don’t know what it is, maybe you have to look a little more closely because it’s easy to forget.
I used to think that I’d be happy once I graduated (back when I was in my undergrad) or once I had a boyfriend (when I was single … and also still in my undergrad) or once I had a nice car or a better job (when I didn’t) or fill-in-the-blank. I realized a few years ago that this kind of thinking didn’t actually get me to happiness but only seemed to validate the delaying of actually being happy. There always seemed to be something – everyday – that stopped me from being happy.
Happiness should not be rare and unusual. It should be the default – I’m tired of talking about it as if it were a mythical creature that we’re trying to hunt down. I have a lot to work on in terms of not worrying about each small, medium, large problem that comes my way, but the first defense against all that unhappiness is welcoming each day as an opportunity instead of fearing the things that don’t go the way I want.
My family and I visited a local Veteran’s Memorial over the holidays. Names, messages, and thank-you’s are engraved on the granite walls as well as the tiles lining the walkway. It put things in perspective. Ok, so I didn’t place in that competition or get into that program. Yet here I am. And there’s my family. We have luxuries such as watching movies and eating sushi and making funnel-cake. There’s a beautiful piano, freshly tuned, in the living room. I have beautiful music to learn. So what am I so afraid of? I am thankful to have the challenges that fall in my way, regardless of their size. I will do my best to be thankful and happy every morning.
Happiness doesn’t come from the absence of problems. Because, let’s be honest, who has ever had a perfect day? A truly perfect day, not one that you refer to as “perfect” but in actuality was a pretty good day where you were in a good enough of a mood that you were able to ignore the non-perfect moments. And if you have had a perfect day, well, how often do those come about? Not often enough to be consistently happy, I’ll bet.
Happiness should be consistent. Maybe it’s not realistic to be glowingly, ecstatically happy every minute of every day, but if we’re alive, we should give happiness a chance. Otherwise, it’s pretty hard to get out of bed each morning.