What makes you happy? Are you constantly looking for something to make you happy, or do you find happiness in being?
My new year started last July 4 when my husband was admitted to the hospital and needed surgery. We waited until the end of August because my youngest daughter was getting married, but he was a very sick man for the summer. Happiness found during those days was simple-every day he was able to wake up and get through the day was a good day. We prayed he would make it to the wedding day without needing emergency surgery. Our luck ran out the morning of the wedding when his fever spiked and he started to go septic, but the fine Emergency Room medical staff at our hospital treated him, released him, and he was able to get through the wedding day without incident. After the festivities ended, later that night, he packed his bag to prepare for a complicated colon surgery 36 hours later.
My happiness came and went throughout that summer as I tried to fend off stress which was coming at me from every direction. I did not handle it well, I continued to try to go to the gym and run and work, but I was mentally tired. I wanted to control my situation but when someone you love is sick, all you can control is how you react to what life throws at you. You have two choices, deal with it or don’t. My husband would have a second surgery 6 weeks later and another 6 weeks of recovery, and life went on. I went to work and tried to keep things moving forward with limited resources and little support, and happiness was fleeting. I got to a point where I didn’t even know how to be happy.
As the stress started to take its toll on my body, I started to dial it back at the gym. I continued to run, but I was not happy. I was searching for the thing that would make me happy. The gym was the one constant in my life and the one place I usually felt happy, but even the gym started making me feel stressed. Working out at home? I hurt myself. Going back to the gym? My trainer told me he dreaded seeing my name on the schedule. I wanted to run, but without a coach I no longer had the motivation and drive.
I joined a new gym in January and for the first time in 6 months I started feeling a sense of normalcy creeping back into my life. The atmosphere at the new gym was friendly, relaxed and flexible. I felt happy. And then suddenly and without warning my work position was eliminated in April and I was sent home at 11am one morning. I have been looking for meaningful work since then. I had to cut back on my gym membership, and work on my mental attitude big time. I found myself looking for happiness once again.
But you know what? In spite of the crap that has been thrown my way in the last year, I am relatively happy. I have my moments of feeling sorry for myself, but I would not go back to July 2016 for anything. My husband is now healthy and strong. I am healthy and have decided to really enjoy running this summer. The weight training can wait until off season. Strength and conditioning for running does not need to mean heavy deadlifts and squats every week. I am trying to make every day meaningful even if days are not filled with meetings and projects and problem solving. My expectations have decreased dramatically and I no longer expect much from anybody. I have felt the sting of expecting colleagues to empathetically reach out to me and I have been sorely disappointed. Life has a way of reminding you that what goes around comes back around, and apparently this has been my year to get hit in the back with what life has to throw at me. But I am not going to get knocked down. I am going to choose happiness.
After a crapstorm of a year, I am taking away these things:
- You are what you eat- food can bring happiness or can cause disease; my husband’s colon is now a foot shorter because of disease.
- Do not take anything for granted- work, health, money, happiness.
- Expect nothing from life- nobody or no person owes you anything
- Happiness is what you make of it. Be happy or be not happy, you get to choose.