For as long as I can remember, my mind has been captive to negative thoughts.
I wasn’t necessarily aware of it, but I was definitely not a “glass half full” person if you were to ask me. I knew that I longed for joy – but I really believed my circumstances just weren’t allowing for it. Whether it was cranky kids, sheer exhaustion, or a season of sickness, I always felt the odds were stacked against me in my search for happiness.
I so badly wanted to find this ‘paradise’ in my life – that time and place where everything would finally go my way. I was so caught up in the “if/then” game: “If only the kids were a little bit older, then things would be easier.” Or: “If I could just get a solid night of sleep, then I wouldn’t be so irritable all the time.”
In my quest for this personal paradise, I continually fell short, of course.
If anything in my day went wrong, I would immediately start in with grumbling and complaining. One thought would lead to another and soon I found myself back down that slippery slope of self-pity.
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I became conscious of how my thoughts were dictating the course of my day. I started to see that happiness was actually a choice, and I was definitely not choosing it.
I decided I was in need of a serious life change. I researched the habits of perpetually happy people and the overwhelming theme that came up was gratitude. So I started to keep a thankful journal and wrote down all of the blessings I’ve been given, big and small. Soon after, things started to change for me. It was really hard to feel sorry for myself when my heart was so full of gratitude.
Another trait that habitually positive people possess is keeping their minds focused on uplifting thoughts. It took some time, but I trained my mind to literally re-route itself each time a negative thought came creeping in. I would replace it with something positive and life-giving instead. And slowly but surely I noticed my perspective began to shift.
The end result has been a completely new way of thinking, and an unexplainable joy I haven’t known before. I feel like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, eager to explore all this world has to offer. I’m seeing the world in color for the first time after knowing only black and white.
With this newfound gratitude, I’m noticing beauty everywhere.
And I’m realizing it’s truly the smallest, simplest moments that make for an extraordinary life. Lattes with a friend, a pedicure, my daughter’s eyes, the sound of rain, a certain smile of my son’s, my favorite cozy socks, clean sheets, sunsets, a beautiful tree. I am in constant awe of it all.
I hope I never lose this new sense of wonder. I want the ocean to take my breath away every time I see it. I pray my senses are always shocked when I arrive to the mountains, taking in that crisp, fresh air. I hope I always notice the white, budding flowers in Spring and the deepest purple violets blooming.
I’d been searching high and low for joy-filled days all of these years. Could it really be this simple? Was paradise here the whole time, right in front of me?
I have new eyes to see and a fresh outlook on life. I want to be a sunshine seeker, a kindness spreader, and a beauty finder.
Paradise, I think I finally found you. And I couldn’t be happier.