What does it mean to be happy?
I think that the most simple answer is learning to make the best of any situation. It is a choice. You can admire the beauty of the rain on a day that you want the sun to shine. You can appreciate the grace of the other team's play and victory despite your loss. As a physician, I even appreciate the beauty of infections and how they make us stronger or help us remember how great it feels to be well.
Staying happy in the face of pain is the true journey. It takes time, but caring for kids has helped me with this goal.
I often tell the story of a beautiful boy with cystic fibrosis that I cared for at UVA. He was sick and dying but always happy. I always marveled at his joy in the face of pain and a certain premature death. During my time at UVA he was gifted with a pair of new lungs via a transplant. I can still feel the air the day he told me about a hike that he took. He said that he had never understood what it was like to breath like everyone else until that moment. He was standing atop a local mountain and feeling the depth of his breath that we all take for granted. He was so alive and happy. Those moments are special.
I often wonder why it is so hard for many individuals to see beauty in the mundane and happiness with little. Maybe, I am blessed to have grown up with little and always had to choose to make the best of any situation. Maybe, it is faith. Maybe, it is exposure to sick individuals. Maybe, it was my parents beliefs and teachings. Maybe, it is all of the above.
I truly wish that I could translate this child's simple feelings to others with respect to being present and happy. Waiting to be in pain or ill seems unnecessary, but often is required.
It would be nice if this feeling could be be morphed into understanding the happiness of choosing health in food, lifestyle and spirit.
Now, that would be dream worth fighting for.