I had always been one of those negative people, constantly at war with themselves, while searching for happiness in all the wrong places, looking for self validation from others and allowing their perception of who I was define me. I saw my trials and tribulations as punishments, which made me a victim. I watched others around me, loved ones who had suffered great losses yet never seemed to falter, and while they did not reflect the same negativity that I did, they had in some ways become superior. Their ability to overcome hardship and loss would cause them to expect the same strength from others and only compounded their inability to understand that everyone heals at their own pace and sadly some may never heal. Their pick yourself up dust yourself off mantra and not so subtle reminders of the suffering of others did nothing to help and only added to my feelings of inferiority.

Many of us have experienced a pull the covers over your head day, but then life beckons and our duties and responsibilities force us to move on. I believe it is how we choose to move on that truly makes a difference. Some of us move on with resentment. We do all that is expected of us, but there is a bitterness that remains that depletes our energy and slowly eats away at us damaging our spirit. Some of us may become martyrs. We may act out by reminding our loved ones how much we have sacrificed for them and the guilt of our loved ones may be the only thing that gives us strength and sustains us.

I remember reading somewhere that acting happy and cheerful can actually bring about those very feelings. I have never understood the logic behind this idea, after all how healthy can delusional thinking be and instead of pretending to be happy; why not try for the real thing? There is virtually a mountain of books out there claiming to have the secret to happiness; I know this because I have read most of them. We are told to count our blessings, make lists of all of the positive things in our life and to try keeping mood journals, all valid suggestions but rarely the answer. I have only recently begun to understand the path to happiness and I will share this with you. Awhile back I had a dear friend, a coworker who once out of the blue, gave me a slip of paper that simply stated "the key to happiness is self discipline". I looked at it and mindlessly threw it in my purse. Several months later, I would begin to take a new approach to my responsibilities in life no matter how small.

I found myself being mindful of each task I would perform, whether it was doing the laundry or caring for a loved one. I would perform each duty with joy instead of resentment; I would not worry about how much work I had to do or how long it would take me to do it. I no longer thought of all of the other things I could be doing instead. My reward was in knowing that I was doing what needed to be done, my reward was simply accomplishing what I set out to accomplish. I was no longer at war with myself and the only person I was trying to please was me. I had no expectations and would no longer seek gratitude or validation from anyone. My ability to move forward without resistance had empowered me and I finally understood the meaning behind the words on that small slip of paper. Okay, I may not have found the true secret to happiness, but I have found the secret to contentment and for now that's enough.

Author's Bio: 

I'm a freelance writer who is a former New Yorker now living in New Mexico. I have a legal background and at one time wrote a legal column for a once prominent ISP. I am also in the healthcare field and have written numerous articles related to mental health. My interests include motivational speaking, meditation, photography and the fine arts.