The first blog post I wrote this year was all about looking forward to lots of exciting things in 2010. I’ve been trying to establish a habit of happiness, focusing more on what I do have instead of worrying about the things I don’t. Then the earthquake happened in Haiti. I tried to go about my normal routines of working and errands and blogging about fun things like cupcakes and cute boys. But this pain in my heart persisted. When fifty thousand people die and there’s nothing you can do about it, it’s beyond depressing.
Depression caught up to me on Friday. I couldn’t really focus on work and it was warmer here, so I decided to walk around. Sometimes when I’m sad, no amount of The Office or John Mayer can make me happy again. I feel this need to walk forever. So I went to the art supply store to look at colored pencils and take in the fresh-cut wood smell. I went to the scrapbooking place to admire all the sequins and glitter. I stood outside and watched contrails in the sky. Even the Container Store could not pull me out of my mood. I walked around some more, hating that feeling of not being able to do anything when so many people desperately need help.
So what can we do? We donate. We remain available to offer assistance in whatever way we can. But the hard truth is, the damage is done. And there’s just not a whole lot we can do about the loss. Which is why we have a responsibility to make the most of what we do have. We need to do this because we can.
Something else happened on Friday. It was the one-year anniversary of Flight 1549 landing on the Hudson River. Everyone survived. Those survivors returned to New York on Friday to reunite for a celebration of life. I’m sure those survivors see life differently now. It’s not a constant struggle to complain about. It’s an opportunity to fulfill your heart’s desires, to reach out to those around you, to make the world a better place. By establishing a habit of happiness, the annoying parts of life don’t seem as annoying anymore. Am I saying that we shouldn’t be sad when catastrophe strikes? No way. I’m saying that having a habit of happiness means keeping things in perspective. It sharpens our definition of what constitutes a catastrophe. Major earthquake = catastrophe. Long line at the post office? Not so much. By dedicating ourselves to a way of living that makes appreciating life a priority, everything we do benefits.
We have the immense gift of being alive. Next time I’m faced with a minor setback, I want to remember this. I want to appreciate the journey. It may be the only one I get.