I think I discovered the secret to being happy. I haven't worked out all the kinks yet, but really, I think I'm on the way there.
The only stupid part is that PollyAnna figured it out before me. She had the Glad game all set and going before I was even born.
I realized over time that as long as I keep looking for things to be thankful for, I will always feel lucky and happy and special.
When I was in high school my friend Miri and I would play the Kvetch Game. We would take turns kvetching to each other about our lives and the only rule was that we couldn't repeat any of the kvetches.
We used to laugh at how long we were able to keep going, like it was cool how much we had to complain about.
Looking back I think of the stuff we used to kvetch about and I laugh and cringe at the same time. This was before the days that I had cancer and before anything really momumental ever happened to any of us. We had such easy lives compared to so many other people we know and even knew then, but still, we let ourselves wallow in our miseries by turning it into a game.
No wonder we were such attitude ridden kids.
But when I got sick a lot changed.
One of the big things that changed for me was the kvetch game. Miri wouldn't play it with me anymore because I would always win. So I offered to change it, but still she wouldn't play.
Instead, I developed a small ritual. Every night, no matter what time I pulled myself into bed, I said Shema and played the Glad Game. I listed three things I was grateful for. I sorted out my day in my mind, thought about tomorrow, and thanked Hashem for at least three things.
They could have been anything. I could have been thanking for getting the small needle instead of the big one or for getting a blood transfusion or for even making me go down another skirt size.
It didn't matter, as long as I went to sleep feeling thankful for something.
Today people ask me all the time what was the secret to my being so upbeat when things seemed so bad. It's hard to give a real answer because I'm not a special person or anything who can see Hashem's plan in all of this and know that no matter what it all turns out for the best.
For me it was just being thankful. I guess that as long as I went to sleep each night knowing that I had something going for me, how could I wake up really miserablt and upset in the morning?
To give credit where credit is due, I didn't even learn this from PollyAnna. I got this from my 6th grade teacher.
It was the first day of school and she told us all to open our Chumashim to whatever page and hers happened to fall open to the exact page as soon as she turned the cover.
She smiled and said out loud "Thank you Hashem!" and we, being 6th graders, of course, laughed.
She looked at us all in sincerity and asked why we were laughing. Hashem just did her a favor- he spared her from turning pages and making her look flustered in front of us on the first day of class.
Most of us laughed and thought she was a little weird, but for some reason that moment popped into my mind sometime during my illness. I started figuring that she was right. We complain to G-d all the time, but when do we ever tell Him that we are happy? Doesn't he deserve to hear that too?
So later on, when I started this little ritual all to myself late at night, half asleep, it made perfect sense to me, even if I wouldn't neccessarily say it out loud like my teacher did.
And I really think that this is the true way of finding happiness. Being thankful for everything. No one says we can't kvetch too, but I think we have to remember to give thanks along with the list of complaints.
Life is what we make it out to be. We get to choose the way we want to see the world. The unfortunate part is that most people just expect the world to see them a certain way, when really they should be the ones adjusting the tint on their glasses.
The world aint gonna change for you if you won't even change for yourself.
So let's make a change.
I dare everyone who reads this to be happy for three things every night. I DARE you.
To start you off, this is what I was thankful for last night:
1. My KA"H cutie son who was sleeping in the next room.
2. My husband who was snoring in the next bed.
3. The extra chocolate cake in the fridge that I couldn't wait to eat for breakfast.