Writing prompts are sometime great because they ask odd and surprising questions. My daughter joined a writing prompt meme that sends us a question once a week. The idea is to help us share bits of ourselves with your children or grandchildren, if we have them. (We do have one but at two years of age he is more interested in whether we have a play barn and farm animals, then listening to us talk about what our life was like.)
A few weeks ago the prompt was: when in your life were you most happy and why. Easy I thought and then I realized it was not so easy. I spent a lot of time thinking about times I was happy but there was also so many time of strife and disappointment.
I began to wonder if I was depressed or was I depressed for lot of my life. The harsh moments seemed to just jump out first. The time when my Dad died colored my early childhood. Later there were the struggles with school – my lack of attention/focus and my reversals made some learning hard. College presented its own struggles with long papers and heavy reading. In the adult years there were the death of friends, the change of jobs or moving from one place to another. The making of big decisions like moving out of state or buying a house, having kids.
As I continues to think about this, while walking and drawing and exercising the healed broken wrist, I realized that through all those times of frustration, fear and loss there were alway happy times. I could think about the fun I had as a little kid while playing on the family farm. We visited the farm often because Mom was dealing with the loss of her husband but as a five year old it meant haystack to climb, cousins to play with and meals made from the garden.
The learning to read although hard opened up a world of wonder and joy once I got the letters going in the right way. Books became my joy and escape when needed. My Aunts, both school teachers, had books on a high shelf in the closet bedroom. The cousins always got too pick a book to keep from that shelf. The more we visited the more books I could collect. Joy and happiness abounded.
College came with hard work but there were new friends, new adventures, long late night walk and talks with a boy. There was the learning about freedom away from my mother. The joy of making choices for myself (some were great, some not so great but I learned from them.) The learning although hard was a joy in its self.
Adulthood brought the nervousness of moving, buying a house, having kids and working our way through jobs – all of it with deep learning but hidden joys of new adventures. The joy of making an old house new again for us. The smiles, kisses and snuggles of little kids that were yours to help grow and release into the world.
Now in our older age there are still movement that are not great – like last summer when my lung was not working or this summer with a broken wrist, or this long and hateful pandemic. But then I look at all this there are these wonderfully happy and joyous moments. The times that our grandson comes running for a goodby hug. The bright golden sun on leaves turning from green to yellow to red while the cool breeze blows. The late night talk and walks with that boy from college who has been with me now for almost 50 years.
When you stop to think about it you realize that happiness is not one certain time period but it is the little moments of everyday. It is waking up to hearing rain on the roof, a hello from a long time neighbor, a FaceTime call from my son. Happiness in the past was time spent talking with my mother even when she was ill with Parkinson’s. We would stroll through gardens she loved, sit in the sun to have tea and chat. Yes, it was sad and hard but it also contained happiness. Those little moments of joy that we share with each other or with ourselves are the best.
If you try you can find a bit of happiness in everyday.
I admit there are days that finding that happiness is hard. (I am thinking of days when my daughter was so sick from chemo and pregnant with our grandson. Those were rough days for everyone and yet I could smile at the sun, fresh air and be just a little bit happy because we had good care and she and baby were going to make it through these heavy times. We all would and did.)
If we look we can find just a few moments to smile, breath and find a bit of happiness everyday.
Where have you found happiness today?