How to be Happy

front doorAgain this isn’t a recipe, though it is an easier to follow that my parenting advice.

My life sucks, no it really does, we are always close to broke, we never get to travel or go out for nice dinners, or buy new clothes. That would be a really easy way to frame my life, except I don’t (at least most of the time I don’t). Instead I look at the ways that our life is amazing.

I love my new job, I get to be around books all day, work with other book geeks, and there is nothing better than helping someone find a book they’re looking for or helping them to discover a new writer. Even shelving books is enjoyable since it means I get to learn about everything new.

We have a close group of friends who we have known for years who we do fun and amazing things with; dinners, community farming, swimming in the river, Sunday mornings at the coffee shop.

When we have time we go camping in some of the most beautiful places in the world (free Forest Service Camping). We eat well, go slow, hike and climb, and as an added treat go to the hot springs (usually our only expense other than ice cream and gas).

We can’t go out to eat often but we have learned to cook all those dishes that we crave (well most of them) when we do go out to eat we head down Federal Boulevard for Vietnamese or Korean food at neighborhood restaurants that aren’t expensive.

The lazy answer on clothing is that I actually like thrift stores better, I hate malls where you go from store to store looking at stuff from only one season. At a thrift store it’s all together, and if you are patient you can find the nice stuff you are looking for. (I once found a $250 Eileen Fisher sweater I was dreaming of for $3 ).

But does trading one thing for another really make you happy? It isn’t a promise of happiness. But looking at the situation from the view of what is real and great in our lives makes it seem so rich and full even if there is a lot of problems. I’m not avoiding the problems just not letting them take over my life.

I spent years obsessing over all the problems in my life. All there was pain and depression, the worst of it leading to crippling insomnia. Then it came to me one day that things were never going to change unless I could see any part of my life as wonderful. Sort of a “fake it until you make it” situation.

I found that my camera was one of the best tools for this transition. I could capture the parts of my life that have beauty, I started to look for those moments all the time. I still do this as a reminder. This is why my instagram feed is full of pictures of food and buildings and writing. It helps to have these reminders that my life isn’t all bills and laundry.

I still have days, and even weeks when I feel like the world is collapsing around me. But they don’t last as long or send me tumbling into weeks of dark sleepless depression. see you later

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