She fell in love every other year and swore that every love would be her last. For months on end after every breakup, she would wallow in her misery and think of everything she’d ever given up for love. Of who she could have been now or of what she could have done differently.
The very last time was the worst, because it might have been the only time she’d ever really, truly fallen in love. When he broke her heart, she knew he’d broken more than just that. He’d broken her.
She spent day after day alternating between refusing to leave her bed and crying her eyes out or pathological attempts to pretend that she was okay by partying like crazy until the sun came up.
A lot of nights were spent on the front porch, staring up at the stars with tears falling endlessly, wishing desperately that she would be okay soon with her sixth cigarette dangling between her fingers.
She wished with all her heart. She hoped. She prayed. For time to turn back. For time to move forward. For time to give her that simple desire: to just be happy.
Wrong decisions and countless mistakes led her to this: a shell of a person who felt empty and scarred, knees scratched from falling too often and eyes eternally puffy from an overload of tears. She was broken, beaten and defeated—not to mention unemployed, broke and lost.
All she wanted was to be happy. Was that too much to ask?
Does this sound familiar? How many times have we all fallen in and out of love and how much have we sacrificed for love? How many times, at the lowest of the low, have we closed our eyes and craved to be happy?
Happiness. Is that really too much to ask for?
Yes, it is. Because it isn’t something that you ask for. It’s something you choose to do and to be. It is a choice.
It isn’t always easy. And when we lose something so important to us, it’s almost impossible to imagine that happiness is within our grasp, even though it always really is. When we lose a love or a loved one, a job or a significant item, or when we fail at something, moments of despair are easier to succumb to.
And it’s alright. For a day or two, for a little while: feel the pain and slowly let go of it, one day at a time, one breath at a time. But don’t let a day go by that you don’t do anything, however small, for your own happiness.
It starts with a smile, no matter how trivial or foreign it feels. Then you learn to make a conscious effort to do something for that smile, whether it’s spending time with family or friends or pampering yourself with a trip to the gym or some retail therapy. Do something every day for yourself, not just to make you happy, but to make yourself someone better. Help yourself because no one else is going to make that effort.
People can make you happy, as can material things or random circumstances. But these things come and go. And if they go, what shadow of happiness will you be left with? Choose to be happy, every day, even when it seems so difficult to be. No one has more constant or direct control over the choice to be happy than you.
You have the sole authority to make something better of your life, to be braver and stronger, to simply move forward. You have the immense power to make yourself happy if you so only choose to be. You have this insane power every day, and you don’t even know it. And every day that you don’t use this power is another chance at happiness that you can never get back.
When life gives you a reason to not be happy, think of all the reasons you have left to still be. There are countless reasons: the sun on your skin, the smile of a loved one, the food on the table, the book on your nightstand—just waking up and being alive.
Every moment is a simple choice between wanting to be happy or just being happy. And while we cannot always make the choice to just be, we should never forget that we can be.
So if you want to be happy, then be.