In The Running Dream, Jessica talks about her ‘garden of worthiness’ and how difficult it is to keep weeds out of it. This has to do with her losing a leg and feeling that the boy she likes—or any boy, for that matter—could never fall in love with her because of her handicap.
It occurred to me today that weeds also spring up quickly in one’s garden of happiness—that you have to be willing to tend to your happiness—to stay on top of it—or craggy weeds will crop up and take over.
Have you ever noticed that about weeds? They grow so fast. And really, they take no encouragement whatsoever. One day there’s a little sprig (which you probably don’t think you have to pull out right then), and the next time you look it’s sucked the nutrients right out of the soil and become an ugly, spiky-leaved monster of a plant, choking out your delicate flowers.
Being happy requires work. It’s not something you just are. It’s something you work toward. Something you fight for. Something that needs to be maintained. It is really easy to let the negative infiltrate the positive. Keeping negativity out requires due diligence, and a willingness to be resented.
After all, misery loves company.
We grow up hearing the term ‘success’ used to describe people who have reached a certain level of status in their field, or a certain level of cha-ching in their bank account. And those things may be a measure of success in the traditional sense, but I think viewing things that way misrepresents what success really is.
I think success should be measured by your degree of happiness. So no matter what you do or how much or little money you have, if you are happy, you are successful. (This, of course, has nothing to do with people who are suffering from clinical depression or a chemical imbalance or some emotional trauma or whatnot.)
The interesting revelation I had this week was that if I had to explain what made me happy, I would start with my family—my husband, my kids….then I would say playing racquetball! Playing in the band! Going down the water slides!
But that really, those are just little rushes. What makes me happy at the end of each day is knowing that I made someone else happy. Knowing that I did something—no matter how small—that made the world a better place. I like looking back on my day and feeling that it was an honorable one—one where I was kind and compassionate and that I appreciated the gift of this day of living and the good things and people in it.
An old friend sent around this quote: “There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama & people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad, & focus on the good. So, love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don't. Life is too short to be anything but happy.”
That sums it up pretty nicely, I think. It’s sometimes hard to face the fact that there are things in life we just can’t change, but when we do, it frees us. That craggy, spiky-leafed plant is never gonna bloom, no matter how much we may wish it would.
So stop wishing.
Go weed your garden.
There’s nothing wrong with being happy.