This is by far the question I am asked the most often in regards to both this blog and my upcoming book. “How can I remain happy when my loved one passed away/I was diagnosed with a serious illness/I was just fired” you name it. In fact, the day after I started this blog a woman who had all of those and them some asked me that very question. Now, at the time I was a bit overwhelmed by the screaming in her tone to answer. Even though her delivery was debatable, her question is a very valid one. Judging by how many times I am asked that question in one form or another first let me assure you that you are not alone. Everyone in life faces struggles. When it comes to death of a loved one, or serious and terminal illness, often a very serious struggle. So what them Mr. Smiley? What do we do then? In short – you cry. What kind of advice is that coming from a blog like this? An honest one. Let me start by again stating the goal of this blog, and of life in general is not to be happy one hundred percent of the time. Not only is this unrealistic, it also sets us up for feelings of failure. The idea behind self improvements is to make the good parts of life more intense and frequent and the trying times less frequent and less intense.

Look sometimes life gives us a little more than we can handle. Whether it be at work when you feel so overwhelmed being unemployed and homeless seems like a less stressful plan, or something more serious happens to bring us down, you have a right to feel sad. Pain is one of the most powerful tools of change and growth IF it is looked at in just such a light. A perfect example of this was given to me by a friend I know from the bar I work at, Tina. Recently she had a family member pass away. this is never an enjoyable experience for anyone. Listening to Tina’s story about the event I was struck by just what an empowered and inspirational view this woman took. Yes, she cried. When we lose someone we care about it is expected we should feel sad. Yet, she remarked how amazing it was to learn not only about the woman who has passed on, but about the rest of her family as well. She heard exciting stories from the past and learned things about her family she had not known. She told me there was as much celebration of life, if not more, than morning of loss. It gave her pride in not only the way she dealt with her grief, but the way her family did as well. I really got the feeling listening to her that is drew her family closer as well. it also inspired her to take a long hard look at her own spiritual beliefs. Again, sometimes pain is the best catalyst to growth. If given the choice I am sure Tina would have chosen not to go through that event. She understood all to well the realities of life. Sadness and grief should be given their respect and time. They can cause us to look inside, to grow and to reflect. If you have taken the steps to add joy to your life, when darkness does come, you will be better prepared to focus on and find the light at the end.

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