There are two types of happiness: happiness that is created when you get something you’ve been wanting; and happiness you create regardless of what’s going on around you. We have the tools in us to be happy beyond our circumstances. To create a synthetic happiness. A lot of it is attitude.
My Mom and Nena, my Mom’s Mom, they have some stellar attitudes. They’ve both been through a lot, and I consider them to be heroes in their own right.
My Nena’s favorite gift to give me is psychic readings. She’s been married three times: two divorces, one annulment. She’s been to dozens upon dozens of countries by herself, including Cuba. She raised three kids on her own. She can be very hard with others.
My Mom and I went over to her house today to decorate for Christmas. She refused to let us buy her a proper Christmas tree. She insisted instead, that we make one out of stuff she already had. We tied two wreath-like things together, propped it up with a yardstick, put it all in a planter and called it a day. This was the result.
When I came home from college a little too thin, she chased me around with vitamin B-12 shots she bought across the border. “You’re too skinny! You look sick! Let me give them to you!” I locked myself in her bathroom. “No! You got those in Tijuana. I am not letting you give me shots from Mexico.” “God, Natalie. It’s Mexico, not another planet. They’re perfectly safe.” I only got out of that one by agreeing to give myself the shots.
I’ve never seen or heard the woman cry. At this point, I’m starting to think she was born without tear ducts.
She believes in the power of positive thinking. “Natalie, picture yourself in the phone booth with the white light, like I told you.” “If you want something, visualize it.” She believes in visualization and affirmations, and I’ve inherited that from her and my mother.
My Mom is polar opposite of my grandmother, even though they share the same birthday. Tami Holtz is all heart. She’s sugar and spice. Everything nice.
If one of those animal shelter commercials comes on, it’s t-minus 5 seconds until my Mom starts crying. She’s always watching one of the “Shreks” in her bathrobe. She also loves “Megamind,” “Ice Age,” “Shark Tale,” and right now, of course, any and all Christmas movies. She’s selfless and she’s been through a lot. My 16 year-old mother’s last words to her alcoholic father were, “I hate you,” before he died unexpectedly. She’s had a job since she was 13. She underwent a back surgery 11 years ago that went bad. Since then, she’s had chronic pain most days of her life. My mother wakes up every day in some degree of discomfort, but she’s still the most joyous person I’ve ever been around.
When I’m in a bad place, it helps me to think of my heroes; to appreciate simple, universal pleasures; and to practice gratitude. Both my Mom and grandmother are good at all those things. Both of them have health problems, but they keep moving forward. They don’t stay in the dark place, they talk themselves out of it. They’re everyday heroes. Their attitudes are heroic.
When I want strength, I pretend to be them. I act like them. My grandmother, she needs no one. My Mom, she’s graceful, beautiful, and joyous. They’ve taught me it’s important to be myself, appreciate the little things, and keep a good attitude. Aside from being great role models, having them around reminds me how lucky I am to have their love. It reminds me how special and important family is.
It’s important, too, to see yourself as the hero of your own life. You should see yourself as all the heroes you’ve ever had. See your life like a story with your own happy ending. I think it’s important. I really think it is.
It’s also important to remember what you’re capable of, if only you maintain a positive attitude, change your thoughts, fake it until you make it, and get out of your own way.