Saturday, November 20, 2010

be happy so long as breath is in you

"I would not exchange the laughter of my heart for the fortunes of the multitudes; nor would I be content with converting my tears...into calm. It is my fervent hope that my whole life on this earth will ever be tears and laughter."
~Kahlil Gibran

I have to remind myself that it is okay to be happy....quite often in fact. I can say with such relief that my masochism has dimmed to a tiny flicker that only ignites when an occasional wind coaxes it to burn. But, it wasn't always this way and the psychological reflex is surely still there. There are a myriad of reasons why so many of us feel masochistic (and often act so without any awareness that we are); it's really not uncommon to feel nervous or uncomfortable when we get exactly what we want, or when our happiness feels too good to be true. In Al Anon, we refer to this as "waiting for the other shoe to drop." And, let me tell you, those of us who are the friends, children, spouses, parents, or acquaintances of alcoholics can attest to how pervasive this feeling can be. I think anyone can relate to this problem though. I've seen so many, undeniably including myself, partake in good old fashioned self-sabotage. I used to be the absolute master of it.

I'm writing this today to remind myself to "be happy so long as breath is in me," because I'm feeling that tinge of fear. I'm sitting here on a gorgeous Saturday, my loving husband lavishing me with shoulder massages, kisses, and encouraging words every time he passes by; I am comfortably seated in a warm, beautiful home, a brand new soy wax candle burning the scent of vanilla and sandalwood into the air, soothing Chakra meditation music keeping my anxiety at bay.....all is right in my world. In fact, my life is perfect (in an imperfect way) and fulfilling in every way. Yet, I feel terrified. I know the feeling will pass, I know I'm lucky as hell to be who I am, living the glorious life I'm living......but damn, it's just one of those days.

I'm going to leave you with a passage from the book I read religiously every morning, when I first wake up, Courage to Change. I find that, on days like these, this passage is like a nice bucket of ice cold water dumped over my head. Maybe it'll serve as a good reminder for someone else....

"I've often heard happiness is an inside job, and, much of the time, I can be as happy as I decide to be. Yet I've often found happiness fleeting. I know it's unrealistic to expect to be happy all the time, but I think I might achieve this goal much more often if I made a firmer commitment to my decision to be happy. Instead, I choose happiness and then abandon my choice at the first sign of trouble. How deep can my commitment be if I allow even slight obstacles to rob me of my sense of well-being?

Commitment takes work; it is a discipline. When I make a decision, I must ask myself what I really want and if I am willing to work on it. Old habits are hard to break. If I have a long-standing habit of responding to problems by feeling like a helpless victim, it may not be easy to stand by my decision to be happy. A change of attitude sometimes helps: Perhaps I can look at problems as opportunities to commit more deeply to my choices. In other words, every obstacle can prompt me to assert that I really want it--I do want to be happy."

~ Courage to Change

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