Almost a decade ago, my cousin got married in North Carolina. I flew in for her wedding and stayed with a summer camp counselor and her family for the night. They picked me up at the airport with their two little girls in tow and we chatted the entire drive home. Along the way, her husband (who was also a camp director of mine) pointed out whimsical trees, purple flowers on the center median and even a deer on the side of the road. The visit was great, the wedding was beautiful and the time with family and friends precious, but Chris pointing out wildflowers to his young daughters has stuck with me.
It wasn’t a particularly ‘teachable moment’, there was no test, there was no reason; there was solely joy and he wanted his girls to share in it with him. Fast forward and here we are in San Diego, having regular conversations about the simple life, easy joy and what makes people happy. Regularly disregarding labels and boxes of any kind, I’m realizing more and more that ‘it’s the simple things’ for me. Never have I been interested in the newest gadget or the fanciest outfit. I’m the kid who’s happiest sitting on the sand any day or collecting beach glass by the side of the water. I’m the kind of girl who chooses picnics for dinner and a walk through nature before heels and table cloth type spaces. And I’m realizing more and more how much happiness and ease there is to be found in the simple.
I’ve also come to the realization that allowing others to be the keeper of your happiness is an utter waste of time. If the only joy of heart is found outside of the self, how can you be sure it happens as often as you’d like? If you have to wait for children to come visit, friends to book travel, partners to go to the movies or others to grab an afternoon adventure there’s less happiness chances for yourself. For each of us, there’s something to make us happy – I guess the trick is finding it, harnessing it and making yourself a priority. If, like me, it’s spending time outdoors surrounded by some sort of natural wonder and you can manage to plop yourself into that spot on your own…do it more often. If it’s spending hours canning gifts of your garden, crafting, running, yoga-ing, volunteering, breathing in the medicinal benefits of salt air while surrounded by white sand, hiking, camping, cooking, fishing, cycling, playing, sharing yourself with others, reading, creating, training or whatever brings out your happy…do it!
Life is too short to spend it being miserable if you are in any way in control of your happiness. Of course, there are plenty of things beyond our control that regularly place obstacles in our paths. Our attitudes and choices are some of the only things we actually do have control over. It takes a lot to put yourself first and realize that you’re as important as you believe others are. Be the YOU you can be proud of and the YOU who matters. Put yourself on your own priority list and believe you deserve to be there. Find the joy in the everyday – the blue sky, a rainbow, the clap of a thunderstorm, a shooting star, an open trail, a crashing ocean, a table filled of glitter, a child’s laugh, an outstretched hand, a smiling pup, a wild flower or a day filled with hope that’s in your grasp. There’s happiness in the simple if only we give ourselves permission to see it.