Friday, 4 November 2011

Happiness is a Way of Life

We have a sign hanging on a wall in our house that says; Happiness is not a destination, it is a way of life. I was thinking the other day how important it is in our society to live a long life. Perhaps there is more emphasis on living a long life than living a happy life. Wikipedia says; happiness is a mental state of well-being characterized by positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.  According to Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, here is the definition of happiness: a state of well-being and contentment.
A while ago, Mike and I read a book called The Healing Code. One of the exercises in the book is to rate how you feel about a particular situation on a scale of one to ten and then use words to describe the feelings associated to that situation and then pray about those feelings. The idea is to change the way you feel about something stressful to reduce the stress in your life and help your body heal. When Mike and I first started the exercise, I would ask Mike to use words to describe how he felt about his illness. He used words like: anxious, worried, scared, sad and helpless. Over time the words he used were: a little anxious, a little bit sad, a little bit worried and a little bit scared. On July 13, I recorded in my journal the only word Mike used to describe how he felt about his illness, and that word was ‘content’. I think it’s interesting that even though, Mike wouldn’t and didn’t use the word ‘happy’ to describe how he felt about his illness, he used the word ‘content’ which is a word used in the definition of happiness.
The apostle Paul says in Phil 4:12-13; “For I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be…I am ready for anything through the strength of the One who lives within me.” The NIV bible puts it this way; “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”
Mike wasn’t and still isn’t surrendering to ALS, he is trying to live the best life he can in spite of it. He has always been a happy person…content in every situation and ALS can’t take that away from him.
Our daughter Erin recently had a picture on her Facebook page that said, What ALS Can’t Do: It cannot shatter hope. It cannot destroy peace. It cannot corrode faith. It cannot suppress memories. It cannot conquer the spirit. It cannot silence courage. It cannot invade the soul.
This morning when we woke up, I observed Mike as he struggled to get out of bed. Once he finally sat up, he slowly stood up and made his way to the bathroom. I thought how amazing it is that even though Mike’s life is changing drastically, in ways that would perhaps fill most of us with fear, he is content…he is happy. It really puts things in perspective for me and I am convicted and humbled once again.
Having a good laugh - our daughter Erin, our brother-in-law Gary (Pat's husband), Mike's sister Pat and Mike at the ALS walk in Coquitlam, B.C. August 2011

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