I spoke recently with a good friend whose husband is in the military. They are moving soon (I think it’s their 3rd move in a matter of just a few years) to a place where they have no friends or family nearby. We shared stories about moving, living in different cities, finding community. And happiness, because moving disrupts everything ordinary about life. Including things that bring happiness, like people or routines or places.
We settled on this: happiness, or perhaps joy would be a better word, is a choice. There are many things that add to our happiness–dear loved ones, good food, and traveling are some of mine–and there will always be plenty of reasons we can find not to be happy. We can easily blame lacking that one thing (a significant other, more money, a different job, an iPad) for our lack of happiness.
But really, it comes down to cultivating thankfulness. If we understand the measure of all we have and are deeply thankful for it, happiness follows. I’m pretty that convinced apart from this, this discipline of thankfulness, we won’t have happiness.
A caveat: I write this from a situation of having all my basic needs met, and then some. I can’t speak to having joy in the midst of true need.