“Count your joys instead of your woes. Count your friends instead of your foes.” ~Irish Proverb
I’ve always believed that happiness is a choice. I thought that I was the only one who could truly make me happy.
That was before my life disintegrated before my very own eyes.
My husband and I built a business together. For four years we poured blood, sweat, and tears into it. We lived and breathed it. Before we knew it, and a lot sooner than you would probably imagine, it had consumed us.
I felt like it had eaten me alive. I was no longer living my own life. Every ounce of energy was absorbed by work.
Then, very suddenly, four months ago, it all fell apart. Our business went bankrupt, and we were left with nothing. No jobs, no money, and a colossal amount of debt, fear, and sadness.
The days, weeks, and months that followed were a dark and difficult journey–a journey that made us look back and learn from our mistakes, take responsibility for our lives, and try to find something positive to look forward to.
Now I look back at that journey as a blessing. It’s still early days, and there can be low points in the day, but on the whole I have come to realize that every stumbling block is in fact a stepping stone.
This experience has made me delve deeper than ever before. I’ve found strength and courage that I didn’t know existed in me. But one of the greatest things to have come out of this whole situation has been my attitude to happiness.
When life throws something difficult at you, even the most optimistic person can struggle to find the positive. I’ve always been the one to find the silver lining, and focus on the good stuff, but somehow, this time, it wasn’t that easy.
And so, day by day, I began to build myself a happiness army.
My army defends my happiness, and it is there for me whenever I need a little support. It makes me feel strong and capable. More importantly, it always manages to shift me to a more grounded, peaceful, and content place.
Who are they, these warriors? How did they come to be in my army?
They’re a mix of people I know and people I don’t; places I’ve been and places I dreamed about; actions, thoughts, images, and sounds.
I like to imagine a simple beach shack somewhere tropical like Tahiti. I’m sitting there after yoga practice watching the sun go down on the lagoon, feeling happy and alive.
Behind me, inside the shack, is my army. My collection of go-tos when I need a little glow back in my day.
All I need to do is to delve into this little collection of thoughts and I always come up smiling.
Let me introduce you to them…
Let’s start with the people. They are people I look up to who are doing great things in the world. They are people who inspire me—a blend of yogis, friends, surfers, artists, people living their dreams. Living simply.
Then there are the places. A spot on my home beach where I’ve practiced yoga for years, a surf break in Hawaii where I had a super fun solo surf, the deck where my husband and I got married in Fiji, and on top of my favorite mountain.
My actions are things that I know, whatever mood I am in, will steer me in the direction of happiness.
The simplest one I have is getting outside in the fresh air, no matter whether it’s pouring with rain, a howling gale, or beautiful sunshine. I know an injection of fresh air will slow me down and give me some perspective.
Then there is yoga, be it a ten minute fix at home, an hour at the beach or a class. Another activity that makes me shine is spending time in the ocean, surfing, swimming underwater, floating, or stand up paddling.
Then come the thoughts that play such a big part in my happiness army. These thoughts are of gratitude, love, and compassion.
I’ve kept a gratitude journal online for almost two years now, and so, from time to time, when I need a little fix of goodness, I pick a random blog entry and re-live those happy moments.
Any little gaps in my army are filled with music that makes me want to dance, the smell of a delicious meal I have cooked for people I love, and images of good times and good friends.
So there you have it, my army of happiness, ready to step in and give me a boost whenever and wherever I might need one.
Spend some time creating your own/ Think long and hard about the things that make you truly happy. It is amazing how we can fool ourselves into believing certain things give us joy, when in reality, our time would be much better spent doing something else.
Write it all down, draw it, create a collection of images and words.
Then figure out how to tune into them easily at any time or any place.
It might be subscribing to a blog feed, keeping a notebook at hand for your gratitude journal, making Tiny Buddha a bookmark on your web browser, or always having a towel and bikini in your car for a spontaneous ocean fix or planning a weekly meal with friends.
Be active in your pursuit of happiness. Go out there and bring together all the tools that work for you. In doing so, I hope, like me, you’ll find yourself with an army.
Photo by Benson Kua
Linzi Wilson is the author of gratitude blog Love and Blue Sky Thinking. She loves to surf, practice yoga, cook super delicious food, go stand up paddle boarding, engage in random acts of kindness, and spend time with the people she loves.
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