Where does my smile come from this morning? It’s simple. This is my favorite time of year. It’s a time for new beginnings, new light, new thoughts, new ways of living, new ideas and beliefs. I know many people think Spring is the season of renewal and growth, but for me it’s always been Fall. Ever since I was in high school, October has been my own personal season of change and transformation. Perhaps it’s linked to the changing leaves, or school starting and the endless possibilities…or maybe, just maybe, it’s a state of mind. There is a unique freedom in letting go of the old and embracing the new, whatever that may mean.
This morning I looked around at the beauty that’s abundant everywhere- in the trees, the sky, the sunlight, the music I was listening to. All of those things created such a feeling of overwhelming joy and contentment in my heart that it made me pause and hope I wasn’t the only one paying attention to the sheer abundance and availability of happiness. I hope I’m not the only one who looks around, finding blessings in the everyday opportunities to embrace joy, even if it’s just a pretty red tree, or the cool air blowing in the sunroof, a warm latte, or the highway of opportunities that lies ahead in this life.
I haven’t always possessed this kind of optimism- it’s new to me. But recently I’ve found, as I love to say, “my cup runneth over.” Many things have happened over the past few years to make me question whether happiness is always doomed to be fleeting or if maybe sometime it will stick around for the duration. And the kind of happiness I’m talking about isn’t the kind of thrill you get from a stroke of good luck or from one “good thing” happening. This happiness is a deep-rooted peace that starts from within, from a place way down deep- so deep that it can’t be threatened by small misfortunes we come across in our daily lives. This happiness is a contentment that grows from feeling a sense of connectedness to the world as a whole, and to the people with whom we surround ourselves. It’s a well of love that springs from within the soul, from a place that no one has the power to touch because it truly comes from within.
I’ve slowly been learning how to keep that well of contentment from going dry, even during the hardest times. It’s simple: seek the lessons. What I mean is that every experience is a chance to learn something. We are constantly being given opportunities to learn about ourselves, others, and the world around us- but only if we truly pay attention. I find that my greatest growth has come from embracing every experience as something that can teach me, particularly the difficult ones. I try not to ask why something happens, I just ask to eventually be shown the lesson. And it can take real effort to release the negativity or uncertainty and move on- sometimes I have to actually untangle myself from any unpleasantness, prying myself away from the vines of sadness, confusion, or resentment, and make a conscious decision to release those feelings, and instead become open to whatever it is I’m supposed to learn instead. Why? Because it simply feels better to do that. When was the last time it felt good to hold a grudge? When was the last time it felt good to argue? Exactly my point. Choose happiness. Choose the lessons. Choose to embrace peace in your heart.
Today is a day of optimism. Today I am basking in the glow of this new life I’ve found myself in lately, this pleasant state-of-being that can only be described as an overall feeling that “things are right with the world.” I’ve made some personal changes, some ideological changes, and some simple adjustments to the ways in which I react to things in my everyday life. To embrace this newfound freedom, this new sense of choosing how to let things affect me, is empowering and freeing at the same time. And it just feels right, so I’m going to keep doing it. As my dear friend Katie’s dad would say, “Stay the course.”
It’s not that I blindly categorize the entire world as a rosey place where there is no suffering, strife, or chaos. I know there are many places and many people who are unable to see the world through the eyes of optimism and love, unfortunately for good reason. But I firmly believe that if I encourage my own bubble to radiate with love and contentment, and if I put that kind of energy out into the tiny part of the world that I touch, maybe it will be like ripples in a pond. Eventually maybe some of that kindness and contentment will touch someone else’s life several times over, as one ripple passes to the next, and one friendly vibe after another spreads out into the world.