Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Habitual Happiness

I am about to share with you some food photos that are going to leave your mouth watering...

...but before we do that, let me attack another subject.  Happiness.  Not just happiness, but Habitual Happiness

You see, there are times that I have been made to believe that it is not ok to be happy in life.  Not because someone directly said that, nobody ever says that.  But because our society teaches us something different.  We learn from the examples those around us set.  And many of my early adult learning opportunities came from jobs where it was the norm to complain, gossip, and whine your way through the workday.  We consider it "venting" but really isn't it just "bitching"?  I spent many years living this lifestyle of work, complain, work, complain.  Never being happy in my career or in my life.

We also learn that we shouldn't be happy with our bodies.  That we are in constant need of improvement.  We must eat the right things and exercise enough, not just to be healthy and fit, but so we can lose or gain weight.  It is all about the changes.  We must change something to be happy, right?  Maybe not.

Forbes and I started reading our way through Joel Osteen's Daily Readings from Become a Better You.  This is a devotional style book and each morning (that we remember) we read one of the entries and spend time praying and meditating on the lesson.  We haven't always been consistent with the book...weeks have passed that we forget to pick it up.  Nevertheless, the lesson we hit always seems to be the perfect lesson for that specific day. 

I have written about this phenomenon before.  When we were in Africa and learning the tough lesson about putting relationships before to-do lists, we opened our devotional and coincidentally had moved right into the Relationships section!  This week, we finally finished that section and have begun a new one, Habits.  This week we have been tackling issues about forming better habits and today's topic: Habitual Happiness.  It couldn't have come at a more perfect time in our lives.

Today's reading made me feel better about the choices I have made in life.  I shouldn't feel bad that I am mostly a positive person.  I shouldn't feel bad about exclaiming my love and passion for my career.  And I shouldn't feel bad about giving my Vegan Faith readers an uplifting outlook from my point of view.  While there is need for venting to some degree, there is a greater need for encouraging and affirmative behaviors. 

It isn't enough to only be positive and happy when things are going well in life either.  It is more important to have an optimistic outlook even when things aren't working out as you planned.  If you need a reason for optimism, realize that while things aren't working out just as you planned, certainly they are just as God planned! 

"Happiness does not depend on your circumstances; it depends on your will.  It's a choice that you make." (excerpted from the book)

When I was struck with a situation yesterday, I was sad.  I may have even wallowed just a bit.  But I also had hope and trust that all things would work together for good. 

Already I can see a positive outcome from what otherwise might have been an earth shattering event.  In a letter today I wrote these words:

"I am happy about the decision we made yesterday, and I think that it really helped to separate what happened, from our reality now.  I know that things are going to be better because of this.  I already feel like there have been walls knocked down and barriers crossed and that will only help us to improve.  I am not happy it had to happen this way, but I am happy knowing God is in charge of my life and when the enemy steps in to try to tear me apart, I can become stronger and really show who is boss.  Cheezy, much?"

All cheese aside, I feel strongly that I am following God's will for my life and am excited for everything: the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

I encourage you to adopt Habitual Happiness as well.  To face every situation in life with joy, hope, trust and optimism.  I don't always do it well, but it is worth a try.  Choosing to be joyful is a clear way to express my faith in God. Since God is in control of the events in my life and has my good in mind, I can make the choice to practice happiness today!  Ten years from now I may not even remember many of the things that are causing me stress today.

Oh...and here are those food photos I promised:
Peanut Butter and Jelly will always be a staple in my diet!
Roasted veggies atop a salad...yum!
Surprise recipe! Better photos and details coming Monday!
Use my Easy Cheezy Sauce for a delicious panini!
Secrets don't make friends! What's inside this wrap? Any guesses?
Smoothies have been a trend around here as I am noticing the warm days are fading fast!
Chocolate Chip Cookies...I gotta have more!
Smoothie...need you ask?
Aren't you ready for some new recipes?  I know I am!  Just because I haven't been blogging about food doesn't mean I haven't been eating folks!  I will be back soon with more details!

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