Chapters 13 & 14
I’m a child of the 80s, and I grew up in the pop-saturated concrete jungle of Manila, Philippines. No one could escape the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, Hanson, Take That, Five, and all manner of one-hit-wonders. This was the soundtrack of my youth.
Fast forward 15 years and the Backstreet Boys’ reunion tour through Europe played a show in Geneva, Switzerland, where I was living in 2012. I wanted to see it but couldn’t find anyone to go with me. My husband, who witnessed me sobbing in our living room on the morning of the concert, grudgingly volunteered (boy bands aren’t his favorite). His kindness made the whole thing worse.
The tears were not about a few hours in an arena. I was crying because I missed my girlfriends.
“If only I had friends in Geneva, if only we lived somewhere else” were words that rattled around daily in my brain. I was there for the foreseeable future, married to the man I love and parenting a beautiful baby boy, but doing all these things in the first 24 months of an international move to a new country. I was lonely, confused, and unhappy (and tired).
I bought into the two happiness hackers: My circumstances make happiness an impossible dream, and If only I had . . . (my friends around me), I would be happier.
Happiness was something that happened to me based on my external circumstances; it was out there.
But on that Thursday evening in May, I decided to go to the concert alone. I spent the evening listening to melodic tunes sung by middle-aged men. I sang along, I laughed, I rolled my eyes, I had a great time. But it wasn’t because of the music or the Backstreet Boys. I fought for my happiness that day. I didn’t need to whine at home about not having friends, I could go out and do something about it. I could unlock something inside of me, and let out the happiness I longed for.
Geneva ended up being a season that was something like a wilderness — dry, lonely, and difficult — but what I see now when I look back is the quiet rope of happiness left there by God. I grabbed on one choice at a time, one day at a time, one step at a time. I reached out to women in my prenatal class and made life-long friendships. I stayed awake to the gifts God gave me daily — sunrises over the snow-capped Jura mountains, my baby’s long brown lashes, speaking in my broken French and discovering, as Jennifer writes, “My gratitude for what I have causes me to be happy.”
And day after day I held on to that rope, kept putting up my dukes and practicing gratitude, and found myself walking out of the wilderness.
For Thursday, read Chapter 15 and come back to join us for our wrap up (and a free gift!).
Head over here to join the conversation! How can you fight for happiness on a hard day — or during a hard season? Or does that seem unrealistic to you right now?
Devi Duerrmeier is a writer, thinker, and cook. She lives in Melbourne, Australia where she writes about food, family, and faith at the table at mydailybreadandbutter.com. Meet Devi at her blog or at Instagram and Twitter @deviduerrmeier.