I take the time to highlight what made me happy every week because I believe gratitude is the root of all happiness, and we multiply what we magnify. I encourage you to develop your own gratitude practice; I believe it can change your life.
Since moving away in 2007, going back home to Iowa has always been both wonderful and scary for me. I adore my family and look forward to seeing my old friends, but I also worried about the “not quite fitting in” feeling coming back in.
And I worried about not being able to be me. Back home is where all of my shoulds live, the ones I had to leave behind in order to really grow up. Going back has often felt like a test of whether or not I had really become who I thought I was, or if I was just playing at being someone else from a comfortable distance away from reality.
I know the answer now.
I went home for my 15-year class reunion. I'd heard that the 15 year was usually poorly attended, and that was true for the class of '98. But those of us who showed up enjoyed a nice night of catching up and even apologizing for stupid crap we'd done to one another over a decade ago.
“I'm sorry I was mean to you.”
“I'm sorry my boyfriend vandalized your car.”
It's good to be a grown up.
I also went home to have a book launch party with my family and friends. I was much more nervous about that than the reunion. I was nervous no one would show up, and I was nervous that I'd feel silly pretending to be an author in front of everyone.
Mostly I was nervous about telling them my story.
At these types of events, I often read a section from the book that summarizes how and why I got to the point of writing a book about happiness. It's the part that reveals how horribly I've failed and how much I hurt people around me in the process.
It's the part where I talk about breaking my marriage vows and hanging out in bars while my kids were home with their dad on school nights.
It's never been uncomfortable to share that with strangers, but as the day grew closer I realized I'd be reading in front of my dad, my grandparents, and my in-laws. By the time I stood up to read, I was shaking.
My mom stood beside me, trying to protect me with her presence.
I got through the story, and I got through the explanation of why I am so passionate about advocating for happiness.
And nobody left.
My mother- and father-in-law hugged me. More than once. So did my grandparents and my dad. And it was such a relief to be loved after having been seen.
This week I am most grateful for people who love me enough to show up. I'm grateful that they came with open hearts and open minds, and that they didn't run when I showed up, too.
Your turn: what are you grateful for right now?