Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Health and Love: What Happened to Happiness?

I am the most afraid of this topic. It is one thing that shapes my world for better and for worse.

When I was growing up, my parents always told us that only two things in life were important, health and love. This was drilled into us. It was THE message. THE one resounding message from my childhood.

Happiness wasn’t mentioned because it seemed obvious that with health and love comes happiness.

I have wrestled with this conceit for over five decades. Yes, FIVE decades. That sounds like a long time to wrestle. But I have tried to seek out help. I really have. But I continue to struggle, and here is the absolute truth. Bare all, conceal nothing.

I live my life happy but in absolute fear that my happiness will be taken away. In a heart beat, a blink of an eye, a flip of a coin, my world will shut down and my happiness will be gone.

I have lived long enough to see how bad things destroy happiness. I have lived through some of these tough times. Have watched my happiness flutter away and disappear. Too many times. Too easily. But this is life. And it changes on a dime.

But I have also lived long enough to KNOW that happiness can be there through tough times, unhappy times if, IF, if happiness is equated to peace. And to me, I think it is.

I am the least peaceful person I know. This is what eludes me. I have met a few people who seem at peace always. I want that. To me that looks like happiness. It looks like no one can take it away. I just don’t know how to get there.

And perhaps I worry a bit, that my highs won’t be quite as high if I am in that peaceful spot. But I think I would trade the highs for the sacred gift of peace.

Instead, I live my life fearful. And I can’t seem to do a damn thing about it. I talked about courage on my last blog and realize how closely linked courage and happiness really are.

And so I ask YOU out there--readers, writers, thinkers, does it take courage to be at peace?

Is this the piece in peace I’m missing? Was I born this way or did life make me this way? And can I change?


  1. Terry,
    Think of it as a "no fly zone"-none and I mean none of the weight of dread is allowed in. You might just have to make a decision that you need a happy space in you heart and mind.
    My son left last year and I consciously decided to embrace his separation so that he would not worry about me and would feel empowered by it. I do not want him to see me as a ball and chain either in reality or in emotion...I want to be able to share happiness with him, and i don't want him to feel that I am dependent on him for it.
    Maybe that should be the motivation...your future relationship with your charming son...
    I hope you have a really nice day.

  2. Terry, you've got me by the seat of the pants. I'm unable to answer your questions. But I do think perhaps that you're getting caught up with the labels we put on our emotions. From what I've read on your blog you are happy and you have a very happy life. And yes, I think health and love are part of that. Relax and look around... peace will come to you.

  3. Hi Terry,
    I found peace through faith. "You gotta have faith," as the song says. Peace comes with believing that all things are happening right here and now because that is how it is meant to be. If you can stop controlling situations and out comes and place it in the hands of Spirit you can let go. Why should we interfere with what "is." We can't change or control the weather for a simple example. We have to accept it and live accordingly. I believe that there is a higher power working with me to be the best that I can be. I pray about it, too. I ask for guidance and direction. When ever I have negative thoughts, I ask Spirit to take them from me. I don't want to have them, but I am conditioned. When ever I have a moment of fear I stop to ask, how can I bring love into this moment instead? To bring in the love, I look around me at all the incredible gifts that are already present. I see my beautiful children, my loving husband and I see the ocean. I didn't always appreciate the everyday things until they were almost taken away. Yes, I agree that life is fragile, but it is also out of our control. Try and sit back and see things from an outside perspective. Take a breath. Ask for help. Have faith that everything will work out as it is meant to be.

  4. I am almost forty-seven and it took me until a year ago to find what I call inner peace. And it absolutely took courage. It took courage to take a good hard look at my self on the inside. It took courage to make changes. It took courage to alter my perception...and that was the key. It takes courage to find something good in the bad, but if you look hard enough you can. Don't think I don't have lapses because I do. It's a daily walk of one step at a time. If I can do it, you can, too! Wishing you many blessings of peace, love, and happiness.

  5. Wow, this was great! And the only reason you call yourself the least peaceful person you know is because you don't know me. ;) I am never at peace. Never at rest. But I'm trying to learn that happiness is not something I can wrestle into submission. :)

  6. I guess we have to define peace first. For me, peace is acceptance. My life will be rocky, magnificent, full, frustrating, exhausting, thrilling, and the list goes on. I can't change any of those things, but I can accept that things will ebb and flow. That's my happiness. I know there will be profoundly difficult times, but I also know there will be something good to balance it out.

  7. I agree with everyone here, especially suzicate. I am only just getting there myself (I'm 40!) I had to take this "finding peace" seriously and could not be where I am without the tremendous support I have. 2010 for me, actually is where I have actually set a serious goal for a year-long happiness project. It has been a great help in my quest.

    The biggest thing is to stop being so hard on yourself. Love who you are and it will come. I've had many bad days where I lapse back too. They are just becoming less!

    You will find what you so obviously deserve! Thinking of you!

  8. I agree with Kelly. We do have to define peace. For me peace is being in the moment. Breathing the present and not worrying about what will come or not obsessing on what has happened in the past. It is elusive for me too. I have to remind myself to be here, now and let everything else go. Terry, I think you can change. But it is hard and it takes time. You are aware and that is half the battle.

  9. You know I feel you. I hear you. I KNOW exactly... I have no advice except to look around you. See your life. Notice the amazing pieces of your life and let THAT bring you peace. You have so much to be proud of. So much to LIVE for... don't let your life flutter by because you are searching so hard for peace. This is what I'm trying to do and because I'm focusing so much on living Today... I actually worry less and fear less because I don't let these fears interrupt my LIVING.

    Easier said than done of course. ;)


  10. ps... I need your email address - can you send it to me?

  11. I do think it takes courage to find peace...to let go of the fear...to live.

  12. Courageous post!
    I've been shocked by the happiness that can come though the hardships in life. And I'm notsure we're supposed to be happy or peaceful all the time. But I'd love to be wrong.
    I've also seen my mom (in her 60s), finally finding her peace. You can change.

  13. fear can be crippling. personally i've found that it's hard to break free of it, or let it go, once you've lived with it for a long time. i've also found peace through faith, but even after finding it, i've had to (actively) fight against fear. it's definitely worth the fight, but it's ongoing.

    you can break free of it too.

  14. I'm not peaceful either. I'm always looking over my shoulder, looking for the next bullet. It's something I, too, would like to change.

  15. Terry, It's so so hard when you've lived through happiness being crushed. The realities of hardship make the possibilities of hardship that much louder, to me. I understand your fear. For me, it takes a certain amount of faith every day to feel confident that we will all make it through. But happiness is separate from love and health. For me, at least. And certainly as important. Perhaps in the best of all worlds, all three come together in perfect unity.

  16. Hi Terry - My comment just disappeared into the either, but I just wanted to tell you that, yes, I do think it takes courage to prioritize yourself enough to find your peace. And you deserve it.

  17. Funny, when things are going really well I always feel like I should be knocking on wood or something. Like, how long can it last. But I'm basically a very happy person. I do think temperment is a big part of the peace thing as well, being born with that propensity. I do think as I've gotten older it comes easier. Have you found that at all? And does it take courage to find peace?? Probably, in the respect that it means letting go of some control issues. That's hard, especially for women, I think. Really thought provoking post; thanks!

  18. I just found your blog and I love this post. I can relate so well and I wish I had the answers to the questions you raised too. For me something happened when I was a child that made a blueprint in me of living in fear of having things taken away from me...now decades later I have happiness and stability and yet I am sometimes afraid of feeling and owning it. I am struggling to find that inner peace and security to this day. Thank you for writing about this.

    PS I was also attracted to your blog tagline. My son is just 6 but I think all the time about the day he'll leave for college. Talk about neurotic - you can see how I cannot find inner peace, LOL.

  19. Wow, so many questions and I really don't have the answers for any of them. All I can say is that I believe peace is different for each of us. I think it has a lot to do with how you react to life. You can be at peace with your circumstances in life, and still enjoy high highs. Does that make any sense?

    I do think that it is key to trust in yourself. That even if your happiness is taken away, that you will recover and find happiness again. You can only really appreciate the highs with the lows.