I was recently asked a question by BlogHer:
"How do I plan to create Happiness for myself in 2012?" Tough question if you ask me..*
(oh before you get started in reading my answer, make sure to put your own answers in the comments field, and follow the links so that you may have a chance to win a Kindle Fire in the sweepstakes. Click HERE to enter the contest and CLICK HERE To read more on happiness.)
Here's what I came up with:
Once Upon a time in a cedar scented world, hope existed. It's development over time, gradual, piece by piece, served generally in the form of gifts.
It stood for promises.
Commitments and seeing the future slowly reveal itself to you, with every life progress placed within.
It represented Unknown worlds and collections.
Fairy Tales for some.
It meant milestones on a canvas without yet a single hue of color.
The artist was there, the hope was ready, and slowly it was built, in the same fashion that a house is built, upon a foundation that one man couldn't build himself.
Once Upon a time people were given Hope Chests.
Most of the time these gifts were intended for young ladies, and served as a graduation gift as they ventured onto the world of college.
It's purpose was to build the woman's future of marriage and children and proper household duties.
Gifts were given that were meant for her future, and she'd place them happily in her hope chest.
When she would open the cushioned cover of her tomorrows, her ears would awaken to the specific creak that these chests would make whenever the cover was raised, revealing her slowly growing hopes and dreams.
Hope chests may have held a small sewing basket, quill and buttons, quilts, linens, perhaps a small pie platter and serving set, heirlooms, and always whispered words of wisdom.
She would raise the chest whenever she was gifted with something, her eyes glancing at the interior wood of her Hope Chest. The inside of the chest, more then likely not finished, and complimenting that would be the scents that were also stored in this porous chest of hopeful happiness. The smell of the past from the lotion covered hands of your Great Grandma that were embedded into the fibers of the quilt that she hand made for you. These scents, mixed with what you and I may recognize today as carpeting in a hamster's cage, helped add to your dreams of happily ever after.
When she would go to her hope chest to add to her hopeful heritage, her eyes would glance beyond the present items, and she would see her future, her dreams. Knowing someday her stored contents would be the very things that would ensure happiness in her family's world.
Happiness was easily built back then. Or at least from my perspective it appeared as though it didn't take much to build hope.
So when and why did that stop? Whatever happened to all those wonderful Hope Chests?
I imagine that's part of the reason why happiness is hard to find. Instead of worrying about why it went away, or who was the one at fault for taking it away, or even the commonly sought after question: "When will I be happy again," he best way to learn happiness starts with one three letter word:
How can I make happiness when life is minute by minute?
For one I need to stop worrying about the minutes.
SOLUTION: focus on measuring the moments
How will I find happiness and how will I pursue it for 2012?
I need to enhance my willingness to not try to fix the broken and injured.
SOLUTION: enhance my awareness on empathy and focus on the now and the tomorrow.
For example, my brother has a "tail" that will be attached to himself for the rest of his life. It's called a TBI. I have spent countless hours researching ways for him to "make himself okay" with his "tail," since coming out of his medically induced coma almost three years ago this May. I have researched ways to fix him, never realizing that instead I should be focused on being a caregiver in the form of listening.
I've spent all this time trying to give him profound answers to his aliments. Telling him to have peace with the accident and move forward. I have tried to give him logical explanations of why the accident happened, or who was the one to blame. Giving him answers to questions like "why don't my friends call me back?" Or "why doesn't anyone reply to my wall posts? I've even said he should be "grateful" that he was given a second chance, that he should try to "understand" that when his friends don't call him it isn't something he should take personal, because they have lives that they also have to life. I have spent countless moments giving him reasons why things happen..and then, after awhile, I have spent moments avoiding the phone calls with him, knowing that you must have at least 60plus minutes of listening to him talk and typically it's a one way phone conversation.
Real nice, huh?
The smell of the hope chest never changed when the young girl would open it to place moments of her hopeful tomorrows in the chest. The size and type of wood never changed--it was always the same-a place for her to store her "moments." My brother's past will never change, and his present situation, the scars that are part of his life and the isolating life he lives due to the accident is something I cannot change or even try to reason with him on ways to change. I have spent so much time trying to repair the chest, instead of gifting it with reasons to feel useful.
I have lost sight of that, and something tells me that if I stop worrying about how to make myself happy, and my brother, and rest of my family...
...if I stopped measuring progress in minutes, and started storing happiness, happiness will reveal itself to me. Maybe not right away, but if I approach 2012 as if these next 360something days are one big HOPE CHEST, happiness will always be there.
My brother is a part of my Hope Chest. He is one of many gifts that make up my dreams.
My husband and children -more gifts in my hope chest.
My other siblings, my friends, even my words here, are all meant as storage of hope and if I stopped looking for ways to create happiness, and instead started focusing on storing all the moments that are given to me, eventually the happiness is revealed to me. Life will be one big wonderful smelling mothball repellent of delicious hand carved wood.
Each gift given to me placed gingerly in the chest...
....I should focus less on changing the way the chest looks and instead appreciate the items I'm placing inside of it. The beauty is in the make up of the chest. The unfinished wood, the creaks and squeaks of the cover and the smells are all part of the package.
There's a reason I was given this "Hope Chest" and what a waste to not use it. It cannot possibly be filled with gifts all at once. There will be moments that will require me to go into the contents and not remove them, but just rearrange them to make room for the other gifts that are stored there. It may take awhile for the purpose of the chest to be utilized, but when the time comes, the chest will know when it needs to use the gifts stored from within. For as long as I have hope in my life, happiness is just a couple of vowels away.
So going into 2012, I vow to look at this year as if it is in the form of a Hope Chest, being ever so grateful for the invaluable gifts that have been given to me by so many people, and by my own dreams and hopes.
The gift that starts my home with happiness, starts with my Hope Chest.
Here's where YOU Come in!
Go to the MAIN "LIFE WELL LIVED" blog post, and list your dreams and hopes on how YOU plan on pursuing your own Happiness.
(key word; HOW!)
Enter yourself in the sweepstakes to win a KINDLE FIRE. There's nothing wrong with adding the occasional material gift to your Hope Chest, after all.