I’m walking along the shores of the River Forth with Lucy (our labradoodle) trotting happily by my side. It’s a beautiful autumn day, with a blue hazy sky, fluffy white clouds, and clear views of the bridges and the Ochil Hills in the distance.
I take a deep breath and appreciate all that surrounds me.
But I feel sad…I’m thinking about my friend Janet, who I’ve known for over 25 years. She passed away peacefully a few days ago. I think of all the people who were close to her and feel a wave of compassion, and pause for a while as emotions flood through me.
The sun peeks out from behind a cloud, and the warm light reaches my face. Suddenly and vividly my memory springs back to happy times, sitting on the sea front at a Cromarty pub on a summer’s day, looking out over the silvery water from wooden picnic tables and barrel seats. And we’re laughing…so much that our sides are sore. A big group of us are there, including Janet, who was great fun and I picture her laughing so much her shoulders are bobbing up and down and her face has gone pink.
I notice that I’m grinning from ear to ear. I walk on behind Lucy, staying with the happy memory, and there’s a renewed energy as I stride along the path, feeling grateful for every day and for friendships, laughter, and the freedom to find a moment to reflect like this.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Dr Seuss
There have been challenges in my personal life recently. At times I’ve felt afraid of the future which now seems to be rushing towards me at a pace. My husband Alan’s MS is deteriorating faster as each year passes, to the point where we are planning – and very much enjoying! – ‘bucket list’ type experiences. It’s hard watching him struggle with multiple symptoms every day and much worse for him to go through it. AND it doesn’t half focus our attention on what’s important. He inspires me with his courage, good humour, and gracious acceptance of what life has thrown at him.
And I feel a strength which flows right through me, grounding me, and I feel able to sit with sadness, fear, and frustration. Asking for and appreciating support from close friends and family, accepting the things which are scary and sad (as best I can), and choosing to embrace the moments of past, present, and future, which are fun and full of love and laughter.
Whole-hearted living and being happy are choices that I believe are within reach for all of us.
Today feels like a perfect day to be happy.
Link: Action for Happiness course - Exploring What Matters