Being seventeen years old, and walking on the local boardwalk. The young man, holding me close, whispered softly, like a prayer, "I love you." It took my breath away, to know what his heart felt, to hear the words aloud that I had yet to say.
Happiness for me is being a witness to my sons' growth and development. I have marveled at their curiosity, their wonder, their love for John and I, their love for each other, and our extended family. My heart melts when my sons tell me excitedly at the happenings at school, what they learned, what they are anticipating the most. As they grow older, I imagine that I will stand in amazement that they are grown adults, wonder where the time went, but never regret a moment.
My happiness is not measured in the amount of things I own, what car I drive, where I will go on vacation. My happiness is driven by making people laugh, at my crazy stories, at themselves, at life's lemons.
I am blessed. My children are healthy. I am married to a man I love and respect. I come home to a chaotic, messy home, filled with laughter and love.
My happiness is measured by the amount of people who make me smile on a daily basis. It is measured by how I choose to react to difficult challenges. It is measured by the difference I make in the lives of the children I teach.
Happiness has a ripple effect. The more of it you have, the more of it gets spread around. If you are happy, the people around you tend to be happy too. And the more people you are in contact with throughout the day, the more opportunities you have to share it with everyone else.
Please don't misunderstand and think I am just the happiest person put on Earth. I have had a lot of bad things happen to me, usually things that could not be ignored, changed or moved away from. There wasn't a whole lot of choices on what I could do.
But I do have the power, the opportunity, the responsibility; to myself, and my family, to detect every shred of happiness I can find, in any and all situations.
Because if you are given the choice, would you rather wallow in self pity and sadness, or try to walk a little lighter?
Because if all you get is what you have, can that really make you happy?
Because being happy has nothing to do with what you have.
It has EVERYTHING to do with choices you make, how you react, what you do.
And I will change what I can, accept what I cannot and CHOOSE to be happy.
Surrounded by those who make me the happiest.