Happiness is Found Living in the Moment

By Sylvia Forrest

Have you ever met someone who is so cheerful, you can hardly believe it’s real? Sometimes it’s not real.  Some people can put on a big smile and act like there is nothing wrong with the world, but secretly lead bitter and unfulfilling lives.  Then there are those few, almost magical people who genuinely wake each morning with smiles on their faces.  They laugh loudly, don’t worry about their weight or the latest fashions, and seem to take everything in stride.  They may have the occasional bad day, but you’d never know it.

How can these Mary Sunshines live with such abandon and enthusiasm?  Most people, if asked whether they are happy, would want clarification before answering. “Do you mean today, or in general? In my marriage or at work? Before my mother-in-law arrived for her two-week visit? Can you ask again after I pay off my car repairs?” Mary Sunshines will answer without hesitation, “yes.”  Anything that detracts from their overall state of satisfaction is simply a temporary distraction.
I have met Mary Sunshines from all walks of life.  None of them are wealthy (though maybe it’s just because I don’t run in those circles). Not all of them are healthy, but they are all wise. A rare few seem to have floated through life without encountering any large stumbling blocks, simply spreading cheer everywhere they went.  The majority, however, lived through formidable hardships, and yet somehow created for themselves a positive attitude that makes even the mundane wonderful.
One Mary Sunshine immigrated from Mexico after spending several years in captivity as a house-slave.  Another spent her life in and out of poverty, and eventually had a double-mastectomy. “I have a place to live today, and I’ll worry about tomorrow when it comes,” the second woman told me.
You may be thinking: easier said than done.  Sometimes life is hard!  It’s only natural to feel disappointed, angry, or sad. Certainly, when you’re in middle of a crisis, it can be hard to imagine the light at the end of the tunnel. There are times when we need to mourn. There are situations we cannot get out without help from others, or abuses we suffer because we can’t find an escape.
But once we get our heads above water, each of us has a daily opportunity to at least aspire to this level of satisfaction.  It seems to me that these happy women I’ve met now enjoy their lives because they live in the moment.  One of my friends, who survived childhood in a household of alcoholics, tells me, “What’s done is done.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?  I only know about today, so I do what I can, and leave the rest up to the Universe.”
It may seem impossible to achieve this peaceful, positive outlook.  Starting slowly, with easy steps like these, may help you on your way:
  • Make a list of the things that matter most to you.  It well may be that some of the things that are bothering you, affect none of the things on The List. If this is the case, stop worrying about them!
  • Start a happiness journal.  At the end of every day, write down one thing that made you smile, or one thing for which you are truly grateful.  If you need to, also write down what things in your life you wish were different. Include what you might do in order to change your situation, and how you will start working towards that goal tomorrow.
  • Go for a walk...but forget the treadmill!  More and more research tells us that being outside – particularly among trees, bushes and plants – lowers our blood pressure and helps us relax. It’s much easier to gain perspective when we’re not hyperventilating.
  • Do something nice for someone else, and also for yourself.  You have a lot to offer, and helping others can be a fantastic way to lift your own spirits.  Bring a sick friend some chicken soup, or send in a small donation to a favorite charity. Then reward yourself with a treat just for you: buy yourself flowers, watch your favorite movie, or just leave the dishes in the sink.  You deserve it!
  • Plan a Girls’ Night Out.  Studies show that spending time with close friends actually lowers stress. Have some fun, blow off some steam, and bare your soul if the mood strikes you.  That’s what friends are for!


About the Author

Sylvia Forrest holds a BA in Philosophy from Wesleyan University and an MBA from Emory University. She proclaims, however, that she received her best education from her grandmothers. Forrest currently lives in Denver, Colorado, where she is happily married, a mother to two beautiful children and a dear friend to many. Her book — A View from My Window – REAL STORIES for REAL WOMEN — can be purchased from Amazon.com and Createspace.com, and is also available on Kindle, Nook and iPhone.