Sometimes, this blog all boils down to me=happy.

I’m just happy.

You guys know that.  You probably get sick of hearing it, actually.  I keep coming back to it, post after post, because it’s the defining theme of my life.  I can’t get away from it!  I’m tripping over things that make me happy every direction I turn.

But, you know, that’s not an accident.  I’m not happy because the circumstances of my life are continually pleasurable.  It’s not all roses over here all the time.  There are times when I have to choose to be happy despite what’s going on around me.  I don’t always reach that mark, for sure.  But, being happy sure beats being miserable.

The truth is, happiness comes from being grateful.  We have to cultivate that in ourselves, by readily and frequently voicing the blessings in our life.  That’s what this blog has done for me- given me a place to marvel at the joys in my life.  The more I do it, the happier I am, the more joyful those joys become.  My camera also serves this purpose– I point it at what makes me happy, and I am lifted up by the image staring back at me.

I know a few unhappy people.  They don’t even have to say a word, you know it  immediately by their demeanor.  Bitterness, anger, pessimism– all etched into the hard lines and angles of their face.  They not only ARE unhappy, they look unhappy.  No matter what you say to these unfortunate souls, it is impossible for them to see the positive side of life.  They are so focused on the negative, that you can’t get them to acknowledge any of the blessings they’ve been given.  Their unhappiness is a darkness on them. It is heavy, burdensome, fatal.

I am saying “them”, but the reality is, this can easily be any of us, at any time.  We all battle unhappiness, don’t we?  But there is hope.  It begins with counting one small blessing.  For those who are in the habit of being continually unhappy, this can be a challenge, so you have to start with something really big and obvious.

Did you eat today?

Yes, you did.  Well, that’s more than many people in the world.  Today, you are BLESSED because you sat down with a variety of choices of what to put in your belly, and you ate till you were full.  (and maybe past that, too, mhm.)  I don’t care what other terrible circumstances you are in, (and yes, there are true causes for discouragement in many people’s lives, I’m not disputing that!) today, you ATE.

So count that blessing.  It’s basic and simple, yes, but acknowledging this provision from God is a single ray of light that shoots into that darkness.

And then do another.  It will come even easier than the first.  It will be another point of light, joining with the other.  And the darkness of unhappiness recedes another step.

Again and again,

until finally, you are nothing but happy.  The light overcomes the darkness.  You did that, not by changing the circumstances.  Not by becoming richer, prettier, healthier.  Not by becoming more appreciated or better-treated.  Not by having a nicer boss or less debt or better relationships or more free time… not by fixing any of the things that you think have made you unhappy all these years,

but by becoming grateful.  By knowing that all you have, all you are, is by His goodness, His mercy.  This is it, this it THE THING.  The key.  I am so not making this up!  This is not blog filler, it’s not religious propaganda.  I’m not blowing smoke here.  This is what works.  Find the happiest person you know, and ask them.  They’ll tell you.  The happiest person I know, happens to have suffered great and terrible tragedy… but she is grateful.  And it has utterly transformed her.  By all rights, she should be bitter and angry.  Instead, she is a beacon.  A mirror, reflecting something Greater.

Don’t pursue happiness, friends. Pursue gratefulness. You’ll pick up the happiness along the way.