I have a confession. I have found the key to happiness. It is such a simple concept, and yet, so hard to wrap your mind around. Today, I feel compelled to try to put it out there, and if just one persons grasps it, I am content. I have spent years, searching for answers, healing past hurts and traumas, seeking therapy and soul searching. I have explored many spiritual outlets, I spent many years as an unhappy single parent to an undiagnosed special needs child. I went from being the most responsible 16 year old you ever met, to being a complete failure as a parent and woman. I hit rock bottom. I blamed others. I looked at others behaviors and said things like “I am a better person than them, so why am I doing so horrible and they get all the breaks?” Guilty as charged! I also believe deeply in accountability for oneself, and while I am not proud of my behaviors and judgements and blame, I also own my responsibility for it. I sought redemption from myself at every intersection, in every doorway. I saw many, many therapists. Two of whom made big impacts with little statements. I have talked about these life altering statements before, but have never put them all together in one sentence. I was talking about a friend today about Faith, Patience, Acceptance, and Forgiveness. I was like, “can’t you see, its the key to happiness?” I decided it needed to be processed further, and here we sit. I truly believe that anyone who can deeply grasp these four concepts can find true, peaceful, contented, happiness. When you truly sit back and evaluate the people in your life who are happy, you find find that they have things in common. It is not money, a bigger house, more or less kids, a nicer car. It is far less tangible than that. I hope to help you define those attributes that a genuinely happy person consists of.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have good days and bad. What that means is that I enjoy the blessings and trouble free days more than I ever have, and even though I still have “weather” in my life, I am content that I will survive the storm, and when it is all said and done and I look back at the damage, I will have wonderful things to show for it. What I am trying to say is that I have peace. That no matter what happens, I am at rest in my spirit and soul. I know that this too really shall pass and I am going to come out better for whatever turmoils I face. I know that I am cared for and loved. I understand how to validate rather than control people. I have learned how to accept people for who they are, and that they are only using the tools they have. You cannot expect any more than that from someone. Clearly, the secret to happiness is a hard subject, and I keep wanting to get distracted, take a little side road, but those side roads are irrelevant, as they come naturally with learning the key to happiness. Bear with me as I try to stay on a straight path here.
Lets just start with Faith. It took me years and years of hard legwork to find the pieces of this puzzle, that when assembled, equals happiness. I hope to save you some of the work. You have to be open to Faith. Faith is key. I am a Christian. I studied many faiths, and this is the one that fit for me. One part of me feels obligated to tell you that Jesus is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE, but the part of me that deeply understands that journey, will not let myself push that on you, so just understand this. Having FAITH, it gets you through. It helps you understand that you are not alone, that you are loved, that you have an army at your side, that no matter how low you feel, how alone it may seem, how misunderstood you may feel; someone, something, somewhere, gets it to the core. It gives you strength, vision, drive, and desire to please and live a good, honest life. It holds you up when you cannot hold yourself. Wherever you find your faith, you won’t find happiness until you learn to trust it completely. You have to one hundred percent fully submit yourself to it, trust it, and let it be your light. Without Faith, you will struggle to achieve the other three goals.
Which brings us to patience. Patience, as anyone who owns an ounce of it will tell you, is completely dependent on Faith. It is like a ragged board that takes years and years of trials, tribulations, errors, and mistakes, to sand smooth. It is often difficult even for those most practiced in it. It is the ability to let go and just believe that it will be ok, that this too shall pass. It is the knowledge that everything works out with time. That there is a grand plan and it you will get there. Patience gets us through tragedy, heartache, and loss. It gets us through joy and festivity. It is difficult to sit and wait for this feeling to pass, for that joy to come. It is human nature to want it NOW! Teaching ourselves how to breath through it, how to slow down and take a long look at it, will save us so much frustration and energy. Being able to let the anxiety go and just Accept that things will work the way they are supposed to, or that your child will eventually go to bed, or that that job will come when it is supposed to, that is all a part of Patience and in order to have patience, we have to have Acceptance.
Acceptance of what is, what has been, and what is to come. Acceptance of everything that is real. We have to accept our Faith, wholeheartedly, believe we will be taken care of by our greater good. We have to accept the mistakes that people in our lives have made, and realize that all we can work with is the tools we have, and we all have different tools. We have to accept that our crimes are no more or less heinous than our neighbors and mothers and fathers, only different. If we all had the same tools, and lack thereof, imagine the chaos in the world. It takes all different types of tools to get all different types of tasks done. It certainly takes different tools to be a banker or doctor, than to be a respite care provider or dog handler, and with each tool, you have strengths and weaknesses. Sure you can pound a nail with the back of a wrench if you have to, but it would be so much more efficient to use a hammer. In the same sense, good luck adhering a screw with a hammer. It could probably be done by force, but it causes way more stress than using the appropriate tool. People are the same. Each has tools, and all tools have uses, some work better than others for certain tasks, but none is more valuable than then next, depending on the task at hand. Asking a banker to handle special needs kids is like asking a dog walker to run a bank. The sooner you understand that we are all doing our best with the tools we have, the sooner you will truly and deeply understand Forgiveness. When you have Forgiveness, you have completed the puzzle, and every relationship in your life will thrive. You will find peace and contentment no matter what storm is brewing. You will know that your shelter will keep you safe from the storm, and that you have the appropriate tools to clean up the mess afterwards. You will find genuine happiness.
Forgiveness is HARD! Forgiveness is such a simple concept, that I think we spend all day overthinking it. Forgiveness doesnt come with “buts”. “I have forgiven him BUT…”. It doesnt come with blame. It doesnt come with anything but acceptance of the offending action. It is a sensitive but important subject. Lets talk about moms. In my understanding from therapy, and from what I have observed working with people, it is natural to blame our moms. Mom is hard, its sensitive. Dont get defensive and Say BUT MY MOM REALLY WAS …… whatever it was that you think she did to you. Your mom loves you! No matter what mistakes she made, no matter how many failures. I PROMISE you, she loves you. She may hate herself, but she loves you. She did her best. She worked with the tools she had. She never, ever wanted to fail you. It was not once ever a dream of hers to let you down. Forgive her, she is only human! Accept that she worked with the tools she had. Every mother, every father, every single human being on this planet, makes mistakes, and works with the tools they have. We all strive to be good people, even those who are not perceived that way. When someone fails at doing morally “correct” (from OUR perspective), it is because, sometime, somewhere, a tool they desperately needed, failed them. Accept them, have compassion for whatever on Earth it was that could have gone wrong to perceive that behavior as ok. Question your own perspective. Is your moral solid, maybe you are judging someone for something others find completely acceptable. We are all different. We all have certain size tool shed, some better equipped than others. Let others have dull tools, and you will feel more compelled to help them sharpen, and less compelled to condemn them. When you accept peoples actions and behaviors intrinsically, forgiveness comes naturally.
There are, of course, little details that come naturally in the developing of these habits, that fit in the puzzle, but focusing on them is not pertinent, as they will come naturally as you grasp the former. Empathy, understanding shame and validation, letting the little things go, are all examples of skills you will naturally grow, as you travel and explore the road to happiness with only those four directional signs. You can see how one naturally leads to the other, and how it is an impossible puzzle if one piece is missing. I encourage you to think about these things with an open mind. Allow them to grow in your heart and in your head. It only takes a seed of faith to grow a tree full of life. Start with Faith and allow yourself to breath the fresh air of relief that comes with this journey! May you find many blessings along the way!