Cultivate Your Own Happiness

DenaDecember 18, 2014

happiness |

Each month, several magazines come to our house. Strangely, we don’t subscribe to any magazines. The magazines all come addressed to the woman who lived here before us. There are a lot of them. Maybe five or six a month? Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Food, Parents. The craziest part about it is that we’ve lived here for seven years. Who is paying for these subscriptions? It’s certainly not us. Most of the time I scratch out the address and donate the magazines to the local library or hospital.

Sometimes the cover of one of these magazines will catch my eye. This month’s Glamour featured Reese Witherspoon along with the quote― “I don’t do regret.” I like Reese and I was intrigued enough to flip to the article. I sat down and it pulled me right in. She is interviewed by her friend Cheryl Strayed—the writer whose life she portrays in the memoir-turned-movie Wild. She talks about the role and about her own hard-won happiness. It was a great read and I personally related to it very much.

There was one paragraph that struck me particularly:

“I don’t think I realized [in my twenties] that no one else makes you whole. You have to take responsibility for your own happiness. That took me until I was about 31 to know. It wasn’t easy to realize, Oh wait, I am purely responsible [for my life]―no relationship, no children, no nothing is going to make you a happy person. Every day you have to choose to find and cultivate your own happiness.” —Reese Witherspoon

There is so much wisdom in those lines. It’s a lesson that has taken me, too, some thirty years to come around to. And I’m just now getting a tight grasp on it. No one, and no thing, makes a person whole. Yes.

We spend all of our young adulthood chasing—relationships, material things, a career—but one day we realize that none of that will complete us. We are whole just as we are. Sure, there are lovely & wonderful additions to any life, but there is nothing outside of my self that will make me truly happy. Happiness is a choice. Yes.

Every day I must choose to find my own happiness and when I find it, I must cultivate it, like a garden. As I approach my second year as a mother and prepare for the arrival of my second child, I am feeling more like a woman and less like a girl playing house. In this, my thirtieth year, I am experiencing a new evolution. I am settling into who I am, what I want, and what I have to offer. I am learning what happiness really means―what a fragile little butterfly it is, so easily damaged, so easily lost. I alone am responsible for keeping it safe & strong.

I never expected to find such lovely wisdom tucked inside of the pages of Glamour, (I don’t generally care for fashion magazines), but there it is. Thank you for the reminder, Reese.

Comments (3)

  • Brittany

    December 18, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Loved loved loved this post. Wonderfully written and said! I too am in my 30’s and just realizing the truth of this statement. It is a hard lesson to learn as it is hard to let go of that way of thinking (having done it for so long). It’s such a beautiful thing – to finally be yourself, and to be completely happy with that. thank you

  • Gillian

    December 18, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    love this. this gives me hope that there are still many good things for me to learn. i feel like i am just approaching this stage of learning that only i can make myself happy. it is definitely a shift in thinking for me.

  • Georgia

    February 1, 2015 at 6:41 am

    Such a great quote!

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