By Malkie Gordon Hirsch
Happiness has been a close companion of mine lately. And it’s an emotion that hasn’t been as easily accessible for the last couple of years.
I’ve had plenty of happy moments but it was something I worked at as opposed to the happiness I had in the past and the happiness I have currently—the feeling of contentment and lightness. Happiness within my soul, anything but a surface feeling.
It’s calmness and mellowness from within, and it can’t help but impact the other areas of my life.
Happiness has affected my relationships, my work, and my overall attitude in the most positive of ways and it’s changed my writing, too.
The funny thing is that at first, it was mentioned by others before I noticed it myself. They sensed it in the voice of my words, and as I looked back to check it out, I realized that there was a noticeable shift in the overall undertones of my writing.
Now, I’m well aware of the adage that the best writing comes about from more adverse circumstances and, at times, the song lyrics full of heartbreak and sadness are the most impactful.
They pack the punch when others get to read or hear what’s said, what’s felt and expressed. I know this because I heard it from many, time and again, for the last couple years.
I still reflect on the time when things were raw and much harder in life.
I still remember the feelings associated with sudden loss and the wondering if I’d be able to safely get myself and my kids through such a devastating time.
I also remember how easily the writing came to me during that period. It was based on the queries and worries and stresses swirling through my mind and in my heart.
I was asking questions that were mostly unanswerable because I needed space to put all the fear and sadness. It needed release and it found its home in these pages.
Week after week, month after month, year after year, I’d write about all the new life experiences, all the reinventing I had to do, all the single parenting to children missing their father, all the personal sadness I had to stave off until a time when I had privacy.
Like all life experiences, sadness and grief never fully leave you. It’s embedded in the fabric of your life and it adds yet another layer of “flavor” that enhances if you give it space to teach you about how it can help instead of harm.
In life, there’s duality in everything. Where there’s good, there’s also bad. Additionally, there’s bad in good as well as good in bad.
Where there’s happy, there’s also sad. And when there’s happy after sad, that’s a deeper, hard-earned, more intentional, mature iteration of joy.
If you search for meaning in even a trauma, you’ll find it. There’s a line from the movie Steel Magnolias, after a funeral, where the friends are reconnecting, and one says, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”
It’s there, waiting for you to learn. Nothing is random or coincidence, and everything is purposeful and intentional.
Your job is to take what’s given to you and search for the deeper meanings, the lessons that it can teach you.
Happiness is a choice more than anything else. Sure, it’s an emotion like any other, but we’re able to choose our emotional makeup in any given situation, even the unfortunate ones. “Who is wealthy? One who’s happy with what he has.” Wealth and joy are heavily rooted in mindset over circumstance.
You choose the way you feel, and it’s the only thing you’ll ever have ownership over. Once you realize that, empowerment comes into play.
When I look at my kids and how they’ve grown, my next thought is how I wish Moshe could see them as I do.
I feel immense guilt over being here instead of him, but in the next moment, I feel extremely grateful for having the opportunity of raising them and doing the job for both Moshe and myself.
Gratitude and hope are the two essentials when it comes to getting back to happy. During the toughest times, it’s what I turned to when there was nothing that anyone could say to me to improve matters.
And it works wonders. You could take any life experience that has been less than desirable and find a reason to be grateful.
With that gratitude, you hope for better times in the future. This has kept me optimistic for years. It’s prevented bitterness and sadness and it’s enabled me to keep the people in my life from not only feeling obligated to be there for me, but actually valuing me and wanting to be around me.
There’s a big difference when you sense that people want to be around you not just to give emotional support, but because they simply enjoy the company.
Although my writing might sound lighter and easier to read, more upbeat, and perhaps funny at times (hopefully), I remember the other feelings like I remember my name. It’s right there, beneath the surface.
I don’t fear it or dread it. I value it for the person it’s made me. For now, though, most of the time, happy is what’s on the menu. I embrace it not because I run away from the harder feelings, but because I’ve walked through them and faced them head on. I’ll visit with them again from time to time, because we all need a well-rounded diet of emotion. But my baseline is once again, and even more tenaciously, appreciation and the choice to enjoy my many blessings.
It’s taking precedence over all else, indefinitely.
Malkie Gordon Hirsch is a native of the Five Towns community, a mom of 5, a writer, a social media influencer, veteran real estate agent, and runs a patisserie in Woodmere.