November 6, 2009

Doing Happiness

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. — Mohandas Gandhi

I don’t know much about being happy.

But I know something about *doing* happy. And I learned a lot more about it today after a visit with my 94-year-old grandmother. My Mamaw (as I’ve always called her) moved into a nursing home this fall.

It isn’t, at first glance, the most cheerful place. In fact, its feel is more hospital than home. Mamaw share a small room with another elderly woman, and spends her days reading or doing puzzles.

There isn’t much else to do.

My first thought when I walked into the place was, “Oh, no.” Elderly folk in various states of dress and stages of mental deterioration sat in their wheelchairs in the hallway. Some watched me pass; others seemed to be completely unaware of anyone’s presence. The home is clean but… well, it isn’t Home, if you get my meaning.

My mother doesn’t like seeing her mother there, but with limited resources it’s the best Mamaw can afford. Mind you, it isn’t horrible. Yet my still-lucid grandmother has no one she can really talk to there. It is a far cry from the house in which she was born and in which she lived for most of her life.

Given an environment that drives some to despair, Mamaw refuses to give into any sort of desperation. “Michael,” she said, “I have to be here now and I’m just going to have to make the best of it. That’s what you do in life. You just make it all work out.” She’s determined to take whatever action she can to create happiness in her life.

I admire her attitude and love her for it.

And I am grateful to be reminded once more that happiness is not what you get in this world.

It is what you choose to do.

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