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Happiness Isn't Transactional

My daughter was born during a phase of my life when my war with sugar was in full active battle. The sweet little white crystals didn’t stand a chance with me. If by chance, sugar made i

ts way into my house, I reacted as if the devil himself showed up at my door to steal the souls of my entire family.


“What is THAT doing in my house? How dare you show your face in my space!”


Because MY body couldn’t tolerate sugar, I decided that nobody was supposed to be able to eat the damned stuff. As if my body’s intolerance was living proof of the validity of that truth for everyone in the entire world.


My daughter never tasted sugar until she was probably 5 years old. Her sweet treats were 5 little raisins (she still holds that one against me) and her 1st birthday cake was oatmeal.


The neighbor lady tried to give her a cookie once. She had the cookie halfway in her mouth when Pete, my husband at the time, panicked and yelled to the neighbor that our daughter does not eat such devilish things as a cookie.


The neighbor swatted the cookie out of my daughter's mouth like it might actually potentially kill the poor little girl.


For a long time, Pete enabled my insane behavior by going along with my craziness. Mind you, he still consumed sugar, but he sure as hell didn’t let me see it. I used to find empty soda bottles hidden all over the house and garage and candy wrappers in his sock drawer, but around the kids he abided by my crazy rules to appease my anger at my own body.


Worst of all, if you consumed sugar in front of me, I judged you AND I mean I judged you hard. Not like out loud or anything, but in my mind I thought for sure you were going to drop dead at any moment, grow obese, or sentence yourself to a life of diabetes. And man did I think you were stupid and ignorant while I sat on my pedestal eating another tasteless meal of chicken and vegetables while wishing it were cake.


It was the same way I remember looking at my dad who still smoked cigarettes after his mom died of lung cancer. I didn’t understand how anyone could know that something was bad for you and still consume it.


Knowledge became a weapon that I used against my own body. It didn’t matter what my spirit was crying out or longing for. I was not about to let my guard down, because something bad might happen.


So basically because just about everything in the entire world can potentially be bad for you I had a laundry list the size of North America of things I just don’t do.


I thought life was transactional like that - you know if I avoid the things that are bad for me, the return on my energy investment is happiness.


My reality was that the only return on my investment was resentment, loneliness, and depression.


Pete looked at me one day after I had expressed yet another idea that I thought was the solution to my miserableness and he said “yea sure we can do that, but is that really what’s going to make you happy?”


Shit, he was on to my strategy. It was the moment I knew I couldn’t keep chasing my happiness on the outside. I had to start figuring out how to access my happiness from within.


I hated him for his comment that day, and looking back now it’s probably one of the kindest things he ever did for me.


Eventually, I burned the list of things I don’t do. I started eating what I want, when I want it (even sugar).


And I stopped listening to the thoughts and opinions of others. Not in a disrespectful way, but I no longer take things in as authority and truth. Instead I observe how it feels in my own body. If it feels good I keep it, if it doesn’t I don’t hold onto it.


My body healed. I discovered happiness wasn’t transactional. There isn’t a cost or something I had to do in exchange for my happiness. Happiness isn’t something that we have to pay a price for and then one day it just magically shows up. My happiness just is.


At the root of happiness for me was recognizing that I had the power to make choices that feel good to my body and spirit. As Rumi said, “what I want also wants me.”


When I hear that sentence I feel so loved and held in the most magical of ways.


“What I want also wants me, is looking for me and attracting me….” Can you feel the magic and possibility and wonder in those words?



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