Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Come On Get Happy

Happiness doesn't come in a jar or on a hanger; it doesn't come with an automatic transmission, 4 doors, and a leather interior; happiness isn't anything you can buy or get from a store or some trendy boutique. Happiness truly does come from within. If our happiness was contingent upon external circumstances, it would not be our own; it would belong to the products, to the situations that manufactured it.
If you're only happy when life is going your way and people all adore you, what will happen when your so-called friends abandon you and it's been one of those weeks when everything has gone wrong? Life isn't always shiny and bright; sometimes it's one miserable situation after another in a long series of unfortunate events and no pair of designer jeans is going to make it better; YOU have to make it better!

I rarely (if ever) talk about the most important person in my life (no offense Mom and Dad) and maybe I should because he's my inspiration, my best friend, my guardian angel; his name is Stuart and he was the most incredible person I've ever known; he was also one of the happiest. Stuart wasn't some rich guy leading a charmed life though...I met Stuart when his sister posted a help wanted ad for a caregiver for him. The first time I met Stuart, he was lying motionless in his bed, covered by his favorite green blanket and staring at the ceiling; his every breath made possible by the endlessly beeping ventilator forcing air into his lungs via the tube stuck down his trachea. For years Stuart was truly a prisoner in his own body, only he didn't get a fair trial: no judge, no jury, just a devastating disease called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) that left him unable to move, breathe, or even swallow. He couldn't eat his favorite food or experience the simple pleasure of a hot shower after a long day; and when he had a miserable, pain-filled day, he couldn't even hug someone. Yet Stuart was the happiest, most amazing man I have ever known. He never complained or felt sorry for himself; in fact, he was constantly sending out Thank You cards to anyone and everyone who had made his life better. Instead of focusing on the negative, Stuart was always thinking about the positive! He used to have me open his window on a stormy day so he could smell the rain in the air; he watched old Western movies so he could see all of the beautiful scenery...Stuart was trapped in a dying body for so many years and yet he brought so much life, so much joy to those around him; he did so much from his place in a hospital bed in a small room that he would never leave.

Stuart has made me the happy person that I am today; he saw the very best in me, only the best, and refused to see anything else; he believed in me with all of his heart, and his optimism, his happiness, was infectious. Stuart often said that the long talks and "moments of great joy" that we shared together were in a place where the disease (ALS) could never touch: in his heart.

So I guess my message for all of you loyal readers, is that, in a world driven by consumerism and fueled by chaos, true happiness comes from within.

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  1. I love this post girl :) True happiness DEF comes within! fabulous story and pictures! xo

  2. This gave me the chills. What a beautiful post. Sometimes not only does happiness come from within, but it takes a friend like Stuart to make us see the good in ourselves, and in others, and to forget the drama and materialistic issues that surround us each day. Friends like Stuart remind us how blessed we are to have everything for which we take for granted.

  3. I'm glad you guys like it! I just wish everyone could have met Stuart :/

  4. this reminds me of my pappap. so amazing how people who have every reason to hate life can find happiness in the simple things.

    and i have tried to depend on external factors and let me tell you i am a hot mess when things don't go my way! no bueno!

  5. Isn't it amazing what a difference one person can make?
    And a positive attitude can go a long way! Fake it til you make it!

  6. I find this interesting you say that Stuart "saw the very best in me, only the best, and refused to see anything else; he believed in me with all of his heart, and his optimism, his happiness, was infectious" - because judging by some of your other blog posts, if it had been any ordinary friend of yours who saw only the best in you, you wouldn't have believed them.

    Stuart inspires all of us only because he was visibly less fortunate than you or I; if he was as healthy as any of us, his good spirits would have had far less profound of an impact on us.

    Why is it that the rest of us can't see the best in each other the way Stuart saw it in you? Why are we so resistant to infectious optimism when it comes from people who are not worse off than we are - after all, we can't always count on having a less fortunate person around to help make us happy, and certainly not one of Stuart's caliber.

    Perhaps your challenge is to be happy even when such amazing souls like Stuart are *not* present. One person, under unique circumstances, can make a big difference, so wouldn't it be even more amazing if we allowed ourselves to have a difference made on us by every person and not just the one special one?

  7. Wow! You bring up a *really* good point! I think you issue a great challenge! I think one of the reasons that less fortunate people are so inspiring is because their happiness and optimism defies what we (erroneously) believe makes us happy!
    That being said, I'm not sure that I *wouldn't* have been equally inspired by Stuart if he didn't have ALS. It wasn't his circumstances that made him the amazing person he came from within!

    As always, thanks for reading and leaving such a thought-provoking comment!

  8. This post made me misty. What a wonderful man! Thanks for telling the world about him, it's always refreshing to learn about other people who are strong and living life to the fullest despite their obstacles.

  9. He is quite the inspiration...even though he's gone he will never be forgotten!

  10. Absolutely beautiful. You are a very wise woman!