Apr 24 2010
Words of wisdom can be found in the unlikeliest of places.
Prior to getting poked with holes number 2 (Tetanus) and 3 (H1N1 Vaccine), I sat on top of the exam room table wearing a blue paper gown.
If you’re not sick, waiting in an exam room is pretty boring. If you’re wearing a paper gown, it goes from boring to tedious.
A magazine lay nearby so I reached over to pick it up. I ignored the wandering thought of how many other near-naked and possible sick people touched it before me.
It was a magazine by WebMD and what caught my eye was the tagline, “The magazine designed specifically for the waiting room.”
Talk about a target audience!
A starlet was on the cover. So far, nothing different than most waiting room fare.
I flip through the table of contents and come across an article about happiness.
I read about how people seem to have a “happiness set point.” I’d come across the concept before. The theory is that each person is born with a built in level of happiness. For any given event, a person will return to their happiness point.
Let’s say the event is winning millions of dollars.
For a person who tends to be upbeat and happy – they’ll experience a spike in happiness or happy feelings but after a while, return to their baseline.
For a person who tends to be morose, they too will experience a happy spike but after some time, the usual dark thoughts will bring them down.
Now let’s take those same two people and have them experience something awful like becoming paralyzed. The tend-to-be-happy person will go through a very low period in their life but at some point, they will rebound. If the glass-is-always empty person became paralyzed, they would also sink to an emotional low point but at some point, they would recover.
How many of you know someone who you suspect will never be happy? I’ve met a few – something great happens and they feel great. Some time goes by and back they are complaining. I’ve also known people who have a talent for happiness.
So here I am wearing a paper gown sitting atop an exam table reading the words, “Happiness is not a destination.”
It’s true. I’ve thought I’d be happier if I made more money, lost weight, went to the prom, and had a boyfriend. Was I any happier after I had or did any of those things? Momentarily.
It wasn’t until I realized that most of what made me happy was how I thought about things. That’s when I decided that I’d rather focus on what was good in my life than what was bad; I’d rather be happy with what I had in my life than be unhappy with what I lacked.
I realized that if I continued to believe that happiness was a destination, I wasn’t going to get “there.”
Lately I’ve been feeling like I have so much to do and so little time to do it in. I’ve started to fall into the trap that happiness was later, that my happiness was deferred.
I needed to be reminded that happiness is not a destination, it’s a decision.
If we decide to, we can find happiness right here and even while wearing a blue paper gown.
Especially while wearing a blue paper gown!
If you’re interested in reading the article, I found the online version here.
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