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Happiness Abides Within

I've lived in Chicago. I've lived in Connecticut. I've lived in New York City. I live in Atlanta. I would like live a portion of my older years in the Caribbean.

Whenever I visit places, most recently, my native Chicago, I leave with this sense that I am leaving something behind. Some peace or ease of living that exists there that doesn't where I currently reside. The same happened during a trip to NYC a few weeks ago. And so too did this emotional yearning occur when I departed from my four day press-trip to the Bahamas.

But the entire time I was home in Chicago I listened to my mother complain about the declining quality of life, the escalating prices of everything, and the outrageous murder rate (which everyone should be complaining about). While waiting to fly out of Atlanta to the Bahamas I met a woman in the airport, a recent transplant to the city, who professed that she hated the ATL. Even in my own household there is a geographic pursuit of happiness --- an assignment of almost mythic grandeur to either a place you once were or a place you have yet to arrive that leaves persons perpetually unsatisfied. I've been guilty of the same. I think most of us who walk upright, breathe air and communicate via language have been at least once.

But barring cost of living, type of dwelling, local policy and the ability to make friends, how does happiness reside physically outside of you when happiness is an individual determination from one person to the next? Ask 5 people to define happiness and you will have 5 different definitions. Ask New York, Chicago, Connecticut, Atlanta and the Caribbean what happiness is and you won't get an answer at all because, last I checked, land masses can't talk.

Slightly different but quite similar to my cathartic post, Why Settle?, now is the time for you and I to understand our current circumstances, decide what happiness, peace of mind, ease of living, etc. means and then determine the path required to achieve it. Fortunately you don't have to do this in a vacuum, if you don't want to. You can do it with your homies over drinks after the game is over (side note: I will be fit to be tied if OKC looses to Miami, but it's beginning to look very probable); you can reach out to your pastor to talk you through things (and if you have a good pastor he or she will make time for you no matter how far out on their calendar you have to wait); you can create a map with the input of your spouse (a very wise and sensible move); you can seek out the guidance of self-help books and blogs; you can research the bible for paths of bible heroes and heroines you love; you can pray for wisdom and discernment in your pursuit.

Then lace up your running shoes, put on your battle armor, sharpen your sword (focus/mind), do some pushups with all your battle armor on and then prepare for battle. Believe me, the pursuit of happiness isn't for the faint. It requires constant reflection, discernment and attention to goals and strength if not ferociousness against that which would keep you unhappy. Because honestly it's easier to be miserable and complain than it is to shut up and change course for the better.


Since happiness abides within and this is where the battle must be fought. Don't like the friends you have? Don't like how you're living? Don't like what your doing? Don't like that you are two times as big as you were ten years ago? At some point and in some place you made the decision to be in the place you are. Food didn't force you to eat it. That job that is killing you isn't holding a gun to your head. You're the one who remains friends with people who clearly aren't your friends. If you claim you didn't decide, your indecision was the choice you made.
Join with me and put an end to the complaining. Stop the regret right now. Stop blaming everyone and everything else.

Get tough. Get happy.

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter at @EPayneTheDad.

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