Several months ago, a good friend from New Zealand came to visit me, passing through Colorado on her way up to do another ski season in Canada. It was a dark, and angry time for me – in stark contrast to her traveler’s free spirit and optimism. I wrote this about our reunion at the time:

Surely I was more neurotic than Kelly remembered. Gone was the traveler without a care in the world. She found the “made and stuck in America” version of me: an anxious, over-thinking girl in the midst of a very real life with arguably real obligations. Fretting about whether or not I would ever get that  raise at work, concerned with being a good host, hard on other people and harder on myself.

While she was here, Kelly would say the most mystifying things, one statement in particular which stuck out to me: “The most important thing in life is just to be happy. Even if you have to force yourself. Right now, here in this moment, you can choose to be happy.”

That sounded like some hippie BS at the time, I thought. But lately I’ve been thinking that I finally get what Kelly was trying to tell me. She left me with many reasons to contemplate and consider my life and my outlook from a distance; but it wasn’t until a couple months later that I really began to nurse my spirit back to health again, and start my journey towards happiness.

I don’t know when exactly it happened, but at some point amidst the daily meditations and readings, I started waking up and choosing happiness every day. Finding joy in being alive because I have the opportunity to live better, be kinder, smile more, and make other people happy – today. Finding gratitude in my situation and knowing I am fortunate – so, so fortunate. Choosing happiness – rain or shine, bad or good day.

I’ve been wanting to tell her, “I get it now Kelly.” I didn’t believe before that you could choose happiness, I thought it was something you had to find somewhere out there. Now I see. Happiness is already available. Happiness has always been an option.

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