Not Always Illusive

Credit: Toni Verdú Carbó,

My role model for happiness was my mother who passed away in January from the flu. We didn’t think it would be the flu that finally knocked her out, as she had faced and beat down a lot more fierce opponents. She lived what most people would call a hard life, dealing with multiple health issues; cancer and a kidney transplant among them, and starvation and an alcoholic husband to name a few. Yet there was always happiness, never self pity or bitterness; my mother had no use for those emotions. Her cup was always full, never mind half full, and there was always a smile and a laugh, a song to be sung.

The cover of our latest issue says Happiness is Illusive. It wasn’t for my mother and it isn’t for me either. There are bad things going on in the world, some of them are just around the corner waiting for me or someone I love. We have to take seriously issues that face us, advocate for justice for the oppressed and marginalized, share our wealth with others, and vocally encourage our governments to do the same.

But there is breathtaking beauty and wonder around every corner too, and that is what I choose to focus on. With practice, this way of thinking has become easier. Looking for the good and the love in others and this beautiful creation has been life-giving for me.

I confess it’s not always easy choosing to be a consciously positive and optimistic person. Sometimes it’s fun to be overly critical and judgey, and sometimes I indulge in that fun a little too much. It often seems like being happy is not nearly as popular and cool as being brooding and cynical. Happy people are often stereotyped as naive airheads who either cannot or choose not to see the world the way it really is.

I’m grateful to my mother for modelling a happy spirit for me. I was worried I might come off a little smug or holier-than-thou by talking about how happy I am. But another thing my mom taught me was to not be too overly concerned with what others might think of me. I’m happy and unapologetic.

Elisabeth Franz-Warkentin is the Associate Publisher of Geez magazine.

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