Sometimes, life if tremendously difficult and complicated.

People stop loving you, they leave, they get sick, they die.

Life plans are disrupted by chaos, financial hardship, tragedy, illness.

Days are spent in loneliness and isolation though surrounded by others.

New parents must balance work, kids, money, kids, work and that leaves no time for each other.

We need counseling, medicine, down time, time away, a house cleaner, a nanny, an understanding spouse, a friend to listen, a different job – something, anything STAT. We need help.

I recall a time recently when despite all of my ‘best efforts,’ I felt lonely, bitter and angry. I kept a mental score card of all the wonderful things I was contributing to family life that had not been appreciated. I spent minutes each day wondering why those close to me were not encouraging me in the way I needed. Blaming others for my unhappiness.

Despite my bitterness, many tears and difficult conversations, I learned something about myself. I learned that NO ONE ELSE IS RESPONSIBLE  FOR MY HAPPINESS. And Frankly, it was time I stopped looking outwardly in blame, anticipation, and realize my life was my responsibility.

I didn’t have time for myself because I didn’t make it.

I didn’t feel whole because I was not engaging in the activities that made me whole.

I felt overwhelmed because I refused to ask for help.

I blamed others/circumstances for not making me happy because that was easier than taking responsibility for myself.

I was cold, bitter and hurt because I thought blame would lead to apologies, and apologies would lead to healing.

I was wrong. On all accounts.

I realized the secret to happiness for me is pretty simple. I need a pen. A journal. Some running shoes. Books. My dog Gracie’s black jowls. Occasionally, coffee or tea. Email free weekends. And about 30 minutes to myself every day.

That’s it. Total cost for happiness is probably around $25 a month, on average. I sign up for running classes. I write prayers in my journal. I read about service, God, and on days when my head needs a break, I read easy fiction. I laugh at work. I stop keeping score. I let things go. I forgive, not for others but for me.

I am watching people struggle. suffer. Live in anxiety and not in joy. I am watching smart men and women expect someone else to take their pain away.