‘Happiness has very little to do with where our feet are – and a whole lot to do with where our hearts are’.
Jennifer Dukes Lee’s comment http://jenniferdukeslee.com/ in Kate Motaung’s FMF blog this week http://katemotaung.com/ really hit home for me. Recently back from holiday in Fuerteventura, our happiness had been threatened by two things: an traumatic accident for my son on our second night resulting in urgent dental treatment (and I do thank God for wonderful holiday reps and a great dentist), which shook us all; and falling back into my old habit of counting the days to our leaving rather than enjoying the days we were in.
So I’d expand Jennifer’s comment to say that happiness also has a lot to do with where our heads are.
And that, to a great degree, is a choice to make.
Now I don’t believe in muffling emotions such that they become toxic or leaving difficult situations unprocessed. But I can choose how much time I spend mulling over guilt about the past or anxieties about the future. If I get the balance wrong, I miss out on my opportunity for happiness right now.
I remember going for a walk in a park with my husband a few months before we got married. In the middle of pouring out all my worries and concerns about our planned wedding and how I knew my focussing on all these was spoiling the anticipation, he suddenly said’ ‘Ducks!’
I literally stopped in my tracks. What was he on about? Wasn’t he listening to me?
He then explained. There was a family of ducks waddling up for a swim on the lake we walking alongside, looking really cute and adorable. ‘Just look at them for a moment.’ I did – and couldn’t help smiling.
‘There, if you hadn’t stopped focussing on the future for a minute, you would have missed the ducks.’
‘Ducks’ became a codeword for us. If I got into too much of a future-facing mode, he would just say ‘ducks’ and I’d remember that walk, stop my train of thought, and notice what was happening around me right there and then. It became a prompt to count my blessings instead of over anticipating future troubles or over analysing past actions. And when I did, I found there was much more to be happy about than I had realised.
I don’t believe there were ducks in Israel 2000 years ago but a Man my husband reminds me of sometimes said something similar:
‘Consider the ravens: they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much valuable are you than birds! Who of you by worrying can add one hour to your life?’
It only takes a moment to stop and look.