How Can I be happy when there are dreadful things going on all around? You may look at all the sad, violent, traumatic things happing all around you, in the world, and maybe even in your own life and wonder if “being happy” is a real possibility.
Why am I going to such a fun sounding gig?
Is it because i’m going to give a rousing speech about overcoming trauma and offer light in such a dark tunnel?
Although the above are possibilities, skills and capacities that I do have, that is not the reason why am going today.
And I’m certainly not going in order to tell people who have suffered the fatality of a loved one that because it’s world happiness day, they should Be Happy.
No. None of those reasons are why I’m getting ready to go today.
The reason I am getting ready to go to this conference which starts tomorrow is that murder by an abusive partner is something that brought darkness into my life.
Several years ago, domestic abuse led to the murder of 4 of the people that I loved most in the world.
My older sister Sophie lived through an abusive marriage for 6 years.
In 1995, her husband ended the marriage by killing Sophie, their baby Amina, and both our parents.
Fun story for world happiness day huh?!
So why AM I telling you this, and what has it got to do with being happy?
Is talking about happiness in this context even appropriate? How dare I mention happiness in the face of such tragedy?
When I lost my parents, my sister and my niece in such traumatic circumstances, there was so much anger, hatred and many people crying for revenge!
Someone who could inflict so much hurt, pain and devastation should themselves be destroyed.
And I looked at that and I saw a future of bitterness, anger and misery.
No. I wasn’t going to let him do that to me.
He’d taken enough away from me already by murdering my loved ones.
I was not going to let him take away my ability to love.
I was not going to let him take away my capacity for joy, my possibility for any kind of happiness, no matter how impossible it seemed at the time to ever be happy again.
I was not going to let him take anything that I had left.
Hadn’t he taken enough already?
I refused to give him my ability to love, to find joy in my life, I refused to allow him to take away any fun I could have with my children and the loved ones that I had left.
I wasn’t going to give him that.
Yes I did everything I could to assist with his legal prosecution. And there were times when I slipped into many dark and vengeful feelings including bitterness and hate.
But I’d read once that:
“Revenge is like taking poison and expecting someone else to die.”
So I chose something different.
I chose something that would not destroy me. Would not destroy any chance of hope, any chance of light, any chance of happiness for myself, my children, and the people left in my life.
My mum used to say:
“Find something good in every day. No matter how bad that day has been, there will always be something good that you can find when you’re open to it.
Even the smallest thing like a smile from a stranger, can bring light on a darkened day.”
Looking for the little things, the chinks of sunshine through the storm clouds, is like lighting tiny candles one by one. If you are consistently lighting tiny candles, you are never totally in the dark. And many small candles lit together can shine bright.
It’s not about pretending that everything is fine. It’s not about a false, forced lie of fake happy happy.
What if you looked at happiness not as some big, fairytale “Happy Ever After” where you are expected to be ecstatic in every minute, but as a moment by moment choice.
Happiness isn’t someplace you go to. You get there and then you stay there. You’ve Arrived! You are now Happy. For ever.
It is a moment by moment choice. Sometimes, in the moment I choose to be happy. Sometimes, in the moment I choose something else.
I am so grateful to have that choice available. Sometimes, in the moment I forget to choose and get sucked into whatever is going on around me. Each moment is a new moment, and in each moment, we can make a fresh choice.
“Happiness” is this big illusive hype.
That everyone is supposed to want and aspire to, even to pretend that they are.
It doesn’t include the spectrum of life and living.
I prefer, instead of being in pursuit of happiness, to choose moment by moment and be willing to find something good in every day.
Happy World Happiness Day.
My Mum and Dad, Sophie swimming with my 2 children, my daughter with 16month old Amina
Here are a couple of places to investigate if you would like to find out more about Choosing for you and other tools that I use to have more ease and joy in life and ways of finding a nurturing space for you.