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Let Yourself Be Happy

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The other day I had a doozy of a bus ride. I got on what was a fairly empty bus but that didn’t last long. At the first stop, the bus was lowered so a man in a wheelchair could get on; that meant that all the passengers seated in the front had to get up and move to the back in order to allow the seats to be lifted to make room for the wheelchair. Next an elderly lady got on the bus with an overloaded folding-type grocery cart. After that came a way-overweight man, who was partially blocking the aisle by his rotund size, and then a backpacker who seemed to be lugging his entire life’s possessions on his shoulders including his smelly sneakers that were dangling inches away from me.

Then a couple of tourists entered with two very large suitcases. If that wasn’t enough, a second wheelchair got on the bus despite the driver’s insistence that the bus was too crowded. This time the people on the other side of the bus had to relinquish their seats to make room for the second wheelchair.

And, I forgot to mention that when I entered the bus there was a screaming child who was banging on the metal part of the seats. Every time the mother would yell at him to stop, he would bang longer and louder.

Then just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, a woman with a cat on the top of her head got on; luckily, the cat didn’t take up much room.

But the icing on the cake was the group that entered next. It consisted of a couple of disheveled women lugging two more overloaded folding grocery carts and their male companion, who was struggling to carry a 4-foot by 5-foot bookcase onto the bus. Yes, a bookcase!

With so much going on, I began to feel claustrophobic, a bit nauseous from the rank sneakers, and anxious about the possibility of trying to get off a bus with a bookcase blocking the emergency exit.

Instead of focusing on those things, which definitely would have impacted my happiness, I turned toward the comic absurdity of the situation. Rather than being annoyed, I laughed out loud—especially when the bookcase became part of this surreal situation. In addition, I imagined that I was a participant in one of those tiny circus cars where an enormous amount of people emerged from a space that seemingly could not possibly accommodate them.

With varying intensity throughout our lives, most of us experience some form of a bus ride from hell. We can succumb to those trials and tribulations or we can rise above them and find the happy in a not-so-happy situation.

In her book, Top Five Regrets of the Dying, author Bronnie Ware discovered that one of the most common regrets of people had who were near death was, “I wish I had let myself be happier.” I think the operative words here are “let myself” because often we put up roadblocks to our happiness. How often do you push happiness aside because you don’t make time for joyous things? Or hold on to anger instead of letting it go? Or focus on all the not-so-great stuff in your life instead on the positive things?

What if you woke up tomorrow and determined that the moment you get out of bed, no matter what happens during the day, you will “let yourself” be happy? Would your day be any different? Would a traffic jam not stress you out? Would the annoying things a coworker does seem less irritating? Would your kids be less cantankerous? Would your bus ride seem more pleasant?

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