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The Happiness Exercise

Monday is my least favorite day of the week and I’m probably not alone in thinking that.

The weekend is over; the workweek is starting with the stress and all that comes with it. If you couple that angst and dread with the kind of night I had last night (coughing, feverish, overly tired) it makes for a really sucky morning. So when I got up today after my fitful night, I looked about like I felt, which wasn’t pretty. I stumbled and grumbled through the morning, got the kids off to school and sat down in my office (aka the closet) when I got this tweet: @goodenufmother can you pls RT my blog about husbands journey with brain cancer.

It came from one of my twitter followers named MTZ, a wife, mother, warrior. Her husband Dave was diagnosed with brain cancer just a few months ago and, it goes without saying, it has turned their world upside down. Then, to add insult to injury, he lost his job. Yet, when I read her blog, there’s such a joy and peace about her and her life. Yes, her faith plays a big role but she is also choosing to deal with their struggles head-on in a take-it-as-it-comes sort of manner. Obviously she’s not thrilled all of the time, but I do get a sense of peace when I read her posts.

Then I thought about yesterday’s GEM debate. Remember we asked if you would want to know the exact date of your death? It was prompted by a man who suffers from Lymphoma that has spread and he’s now in excruciating pain. Due to Oregon’s Death with Dignity act, he is planning to take a lethal dose of medication Tuesday, putting an end to his suffering. While I was griping about being tired, what must he be feeling this Monday?

Then the tears came. Tears of joy and gratitude as I took stock of all I have. Yeah, I didn’t feel great when I woke up but guess what? My eyes did pop open. I had to reach around all the food in the refrigerator to get to the milk; no one here was going school or work hungry. My kids were able-bodied enough to throw their arms around my neck and kiss me on the cheek, if they so desired. I have a beautiful home and a husband who works hard to keep us in it.  And after a few scares of my own, I have my health. I made the decision, there and then to be happy.

Sometimes I think we see happiness as a moving target; I know it has been for me for much of my life. But I think I’m going to change happiness from a target to a decision, a space, a condition. I think it will get easier to be happy when I condition myself to approach life with a grateful heart instead of waiting for happiness to be dropped on my head. Happiness calisthenics, if you will. My exercise program starts today in earnest.

What about you, what are you happy about or grateful for? Do you agree that you can condition yourself to be happy, even when things don’t go your way? You know what to do next…



  1. MWF

    March 7, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Rene –
    There before the grace of God go I ….
    Thank you for this reminder….no matter how many life challenges that we have, there is always someone that has a bigger cross to bear.
    My heart goes out to MTZ, and her husband,
    and the man in Oregon, who is suffering fromLymphoma.
    I wish them God’s Blessings, continued Courage, Faith, Hope and Strength.

  2. Auntie Lisa

    March 7, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    I have a Christian friend who has been blind since childhood. She is my favorite example of someone who skips through life, happy in spite of it all. She’s been hit by cars several times while crossing the street with her white cane. But no matter what happens, she NEVER seems to have a “poor me” attitude. Her favorite color is bright yellow, which says a lot about her sunny personality. Talking with her will ALWAYS brighten up my day. I admire her SO much, and hope that when I have crises in my life, I can face them the way she does. 🙂

  3. Pam R

    March 7, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    I was told once that being happy is a decision…a choice if you will. We all have choices in how we feel. We decide whether or not we are going to react to that idiot who pulled in front of us on the freeway and then slammed on breaks…..ok I know that’s a long shot but my point is that it’s in our control. My mouth dropped after I read about the guy with so much pain that he is choosing the route he is choosing. It’s sad. Remember this….we are all human and no one is perfect. We want to be happy (at least I think we do) and we should be happy. I would rather be somewhere laughing, than somewhere upset with the world because my grits are not as buttered as I want them to be. LOL!

  4. Jacki Marie

    March 7, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    I choose joy. I once read a quote that said life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we handle what happens to us. It’s all about perspective.(I’m reminding myself of this today and I usually LOVE Mondays) Today was a particularly hard day for me… until I received a nudge from a friend and then read your post and was reminded to once again appreciate what I have and choose joy.

  5. M.E. Johnson

    March 8, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Friend: How’s your day going?
    Me: Good. Started out real good.
    Friend: Oh really? What happened?
    Me: I woke up.

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