It's exactly four years since my marital status changed from "married" to "widow". I recall the first time I had to fill out a form and check off that box. It was devastating. I had to relearn how to be happy following the loss of my soul mate and best friend. Fast forward through four years of roller coaster emotions, the result was that I was transformed in a way I could have never imagined.
Learning how to be happy can be an elusive mystery. We all seek it but do we really know what we are seeking? We think we'll be happy when we get our house in Location X, or when we win the lottery, or when we retire, or when we find our perfect romantic partner or when...... (feel free to fill in your notion).
What do you equate happiness with? Is your notion of happiness related to some event or benchmark? Ancient wisdom teachings state that events in and of themselves are neither good nor bad but rather it is our own perception of the events in our lives that really matter. I recall after my husband's passing, my Rabbi told me that pain is inevitable but that suffering was an option. I felt injured by what I thought was his lack of sensitivity. Four years later, I understand what he meant.
The negative feelings we experience in response to painful life events may be rooted in our core beliefs. Looking at what your beliefs are about a certain situation will shift your focus. Can I see now that my husband's passing was a turning point in my life? Would I have transformed and grown the way I have had he remained here in the physical? I don't know for sure but I was not on that path at the time.
Can you know for sure that if you break up with someone you consider the love of your life, that you will never meet another, possibly better partner for you? Is life really over if you lose your job or is it a pivotal point for you to consider a different career path or try something you were afraid to try when you had the security of your job?
I have come to realize that we have so little control over most things and if you give up control and focus your attention greatly on what you CAN change that will not only add to your happiness but also to your overall confidence level. Accept situations as they are and do what needs to be done.
As I was in my early stages of grief, of course there were many times when I asked "Why Me?"However, my friends and family expressed how strong they thought I was that I was able to get out of bed every day and try to get through the day and meet my responsibilities. I remember my mantra at the time, and to this day,when I am challenged by a situation, "You Don't question, you just Do".
When things don't go our way (aka lack of control) we become disappointed. Chronic disappointment leads to stress and we all know how stress leads to dis-ease in the body.
During the past 4 years I found it helpful to have a daily ritual of preparing for my day. Spending time with myself whether it was reading, visualizing, praying, meditating, journaling or a little bit of all of the above, set the tone for my "happier" day. Ancient wisdom teachers and philosophers recommended morning and evening rituals because they already knew that
tweaking our life in small ways such as acceptance, letting go, and gratitude can lead to big changes in our happiness factor.