Why Am I Happy?

I wake up happy and excited about life every day. My friends and co-workers think of me as an upbeat, positive person, and I am!

Last year, at the age of 43, I experienced depression for the first time. I had a traumatic emergency room experience where I was misdiagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. I cried daily, and rarely left my bed. I had a deep sense of shame, guilt, and sadness. 6 months later, I ended up in in the Emergency Room twice more with Diabetic Ketoacidosis. When I was finally diagnosed correctly with Type 1 Diabetes, I faced my greatest fear: a lifetime of injecting myself with needles. Every time I needed to eat, I cried because it meant I needed to inject myself; sometimes the injection bled, sometimes it hurt, usually it bruised me. I cried all day every day. I continuously felt like a zombie carrying around a load of bricks. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I also had an infection and vitamin deficiencies that were keeping me sick and weak.

Libby with Dexcom
Wonderful technology has helped me embrace Type 1 diabetes

My husband’s support and love kept me wanting to live. A visit from my daughter and some Disneyland fun with friends reminded me that life can be really enjoyable. Then I attended a Type 1 Diabetes camp where I was inspired by others, and I realized that I was not actually a sick person. By being active and taking care of myself, I could feel healthy again. I was also introduced to medical technology that meant I never needed to inject myself again. My black cloud of sadness dissipated. I became upbeat, happy Libby again.

This year, I have been reflecting on why I am so happy. Organizing my thoughts has been enlightening, as I think I’ve learned the sources of my happiness. There are always injustices and frustrations, and sometimes I become temporarily angry or sad. However, my goal is to remain generally happy, despite whatever life throws at me.

I hope some of you find my analysis useful and my story interesting or inspiring. I wish everyone happiness!

Early influences and circumstances

Early influences and circumstances provided a foundation for making positive life choices and achieving my definition of life successes. My environment and traits gave me the self confidence, independence, courage, and inspiration to have a great start in life.Circumstances - Environmental

girl at Christmas
My grandma gave me a pink tricycle for Christmas!

I grew up in a safe, stable home. I was born to parents who loved me and took care of me. I grew up playing games with my siblings, running around the backyard with my dog, attending school, and riding my bike. I feel that my well-balanced childhood ensured I was not limited by self-doubts and issues.

I am a natural born American citizen. I have the freedom to travel to most other countries, and to work anywhere in the U.S. I don’t need to worry about things like being deported.

never experienced war or trauma. I never had to worry about tanks outside my door, or the threat of bombs and machine guns. I’m fortunate that nothing in my life has ever traumatized me long-term. My peaceful life has enabled me to feel content and safe.

High School Best Friends
BFFs from High School – Libby, Missy, & Sissy

Childhood friends and mentors helped make me a better person. My relationships with caring people, like my friends Missy and Sissy (yes, they’re twins) provided foundational support, trust, and FUN!  Mentors like my sister Wanda inspired me to have a great career in information technology.

Caring people fought for my rights. Many of my rights and opportunities are due to caring people revolting against greed and fighting for change, both past and present. For example, activists like the Suffragettes gave me the right to vote. The Women’s March continues to promote transformative social change.

I was also born with physical traits that have contributed to positive life experiences. My happiness is not directly due to my physical traits, but I recognize I have had a more privileged life than others.

I am fair-skinned. In the United States, my physical appearance can make me appear trustworthy. My American heritage is not questioned, and I have never been called a thug or a terrorist. I am less likely to go to prison or to be mistreated by others due to racism.

Business Woman Working in London
Libby – IT Consultant at Accenture UK in London

I am female. I have never been denied services or a job because of the color of my skin, my sex, or my sexual preference. As a matter of fact, being female has helped me be successful in my career; I have worked for corporations actively promoting more women into leadership. Due to fearlessness in negotiations, I also feel confident that I usually make more money than my male peers. It’s ridiculous that on average women make less money than men; however, I believe I have personally only experienced advantages.

I am naturally attractive. I am fortunate to have been born with features that others find attractive (within the areas where I have lived and travelled). Studies have shown that attractive people have more success. Even without make-up or dressing up, I have received special attention and favors. I also have a healthy level of self-confidence! 😁

I am tall. From my experience, tall people generally command more respect. People tend to notice me and take me seriously. If that’s just all in my head, then being tall may have contributed to my self-confidence!

The following additional traits provide capabilities for enjoying life to the max:

I am physically capable. I have 2 arms, 2 legs, and a generally healthy body. I can breathe well, and I have all my senses to enjoy the sights and sounds of the world. My good health has allowed me to climb mountains, to swim in oceans, and to simply enjoy being active every day.

I am intellectually capable. My basic intelligence is high enough to have performed well in school and in my career. When I applied myself, I became an expert in my field, which enabled me to have high-paying corporate jobs. A high enough IQ also enabled critical thinking skills and learning from mistakes.

Life Choices

Early life influences and circumstances enabled me to make some great life choices. In my early adulthood, I had the confidence, capability, and support I needed to begin meeting my life goals.

Early Adult Life Choices

I achieved a higher education degree. I chose a degree in Management Information Systems partially because Information Technology was known in the early 1990’s to come with plenty of high-paying job options and job security. I was fortunate enough to love the field.

I invested in my career. I embraced my career with a passion and hard work. I obtained several challenging certifications, and I wrote and published books in my industry. I ultimately became a well-paid global Information Management consultant and expert. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it’s a great enabler of important aspects like freedom, comfort, and safety. It helped me easily travel around the world, and it helped give my daughter a great education.

Family
Libby, Dan, and Sarah in Texas

I lovingly raised a daughter. I became pregnant at the age of 18, and I was a single mother for the first 5 years of my daughter’s life. She provided the ultimate source of inspiration and joy. She gave my life a greater sense of purpose, and I was motivated to give her the best life possible.

I married a wonderful partner. I married a kind, super creative, supportive man with whom I share laughs every day. We devoted ourselves to each other as true life partners. His support and brilliance has helped make me the best person I can be.

I also make ongoing life choices that have contributed to my happiness.

I continually learn and grow. I seek knowledge and truth. I place a high priority on critical thinking and reflection. I often reach outside my comfort zone for activities that can challenge me. I invest my time in a variety of creative outlets, including blogging/writing and drawing. I gain perspective, enrich my soul, and enjoy the experience.

I stay physically active. I place a priority on my physical well-being. For example, I make time every day to enjoy my favorite activity: walking outdoors. Walking, as well as sunshine, trees, flowers, and fresh air, bring me joy. I especially enjoy interacting with other people’s pets. Staying active helps me to sleep better, to breathe better, to have more energy, and to generally feel positive.

Disneyland photo
Disneyland with friends and family, 2017

I connect with others. Being social brings me new knowledge, perspective, inspiration, and joy. I can have fun by myself, but sharing fun experiences is even better! Connecting with animals and nature also brings me joy.

I am kind to others. A component of being happy is spreading happiness.  We are all here on this planet together, so it’s nice for all of us when we are kind to each other. Helping others feels good, and it brings more meaningfulness to my life.

I regularly embrace change. I am open minded, and I want to experience and learn as much as possible. This attitude enabled me to make huge, creative, amazing changes in my life. For example, I packed all my belongings and moved from Texas to Canada. Later I became a minimalist and moved to Europe. For the past several years, I travel and live in hotels full-time!

Enjoying the Results

Early influences, life choices, and hard work have enabled me to be generally positive, strong, and independent. I have met my own definition of life successes. It’s my appreciation of these successes that makes them meaningful and enjoyable. As a Harvard study shows, giving thanks make you happier.

I have a loving, wonderful family! Our family is based on trust and love. I have been with my husband/life partner/best friend for almost 20 years, and we are still madly in love with each other. My relationship with him gives me a deep sense of security and happiness.

Libby, Freek, Sarah, and Dan at Efteling, 2018

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of having one daughter. I was going to call her Sarah. My daughter, Sarah, is now a global travelling, intelligent, caring 25-year-old living an amazing, happy life in The Netherlands! My memories of her youth bring me joy, and I am very proud of her today. My family and heart recently expanded to include her wonderful Dutch boyfriend Freek (in English, pronounced “Frake”).

I have had financial security. My daughter and I have always had beds with a roof over our heads, and we’ve never gone hungry. I have always had enough money to simply buy whatever we needed. As a matter of fact, I had enough money to travel to many countries and have many luxurious and unique experiences. Financial security has helped me have a sense of independence and freedom, both of which are very important to me.

Libby in Amsterdam
Libby in Amsterdam, 2010

I have travelled the world. Travelling has given me greater awareness, compassion, and patience. By living in a variety of countries, I have gained a deeper appreciation for other cultures, a variety of food, nature, and all the things that connect us. I have wonderful life-long memories from my travels, which regularly bring me joy.

I have enjoyed many amazing experiences that have added to my happiness. For example:

  • I held my baby girl in my arms after she was in my belly for 9 months! Then I watched her grow into an intelligent, caring, beautiful adult woman!
  • Every summer in Canada, my daughter and I went school clothes shopping at West Edmonton Mall, “the most comprehensive retail, hospitality and entertainment complex on Earth.“ We stayed overnight in the attached hotel, and enjoyed the attached indoor water park.
  • A Canadian friend and I attended a Celine Dion concert in Las Vegas, where we met a lovely couple on their honeymoon from Spain; a few years later, I flew to Spain where they shared their beautiful life and delicious Spanish food.
  • I travelled alone around Europe for several weeks. My travels included indulging in a luxury spa in Austria, eating perogies with a friend living in Poland, and eating the world’s best French fries in Belgium.
  • I shared fresh fruit with Kapuchin monkeys in Panama, Central America.
  • I participated in adult Type 1 diabetes camps, where I went kayaking and hiking around Catalina Island and Vancouver Island.
  • After having a big house full of stuff, I sold and gave away everything except what fits in one suitcase. I love the freedom that comes with Minimalism.
  • My husband and I have lived in premium hotels for the past several years! I feel like I’m on vacation full-time.

I have even completed 95% of my bucket list!

I also have friends and belong to communities all over the world. Facebook has been very helpful for keeping in touch with distant friends and for participating in online communities. I have a strong support network, which helps me remain positive.

Appreciation

Libby happy on the beach
Libby happy on the beach, 2018

Appreciation is the key that maximizes my happiness. I understand that abilities, beauty, health, loved ones, and even my own life are fleeting. Fortunately, there is a plethora of wonderful things to appreciate. I appreciate the sun providing warmth and vitamins. I appreciate a cool breeze on a hot day. I appreciate the trees for providing just enough shade. I appreciate people working hard to make a positive difference. I appreciate my loved ones and my health while I can.

There are awful injustices like slavery, poverty, and animal abuse. Terrible things happen constantly. I stay optimistic by not dwelling on the things of which I have little control.  I focus on the positive, beautiful things, like nature, animals, and caring people. It also makes me happy to contribute to a good cause when I can.

I could choose to focus on my Type 1 diabetes challenges, but I generally look on the bright side of Type 1 Diabetes. I am thankful to be able to afford the best medical equipment, and I am thankful to be alive and generally healthy.

To support my analysis, I brainstormed the things that bring me happiness. Here is my cool resulting word cloud heart of happiness:

Things that make me happy
Things that make Libby happy! 😃

Conclusion

Early influences, smart decisions, hard work, and luck have enabled me to enjoy a lifetime of wonderful successes and experiences. I am happy because I appreciate my wonderful life, and I focus on the beauty in the world.

What do you think of my analysis? What are your reasons for being happy?

 

9 comments

  1. Wow, you’ve really dived deep!
    I’m reading this in bed on a Sunday morning, listening to a bird chirp outside and one of the dogs snoring softly. The roof we’re under is solid, and paid for in full. It’s Sunday Roast day, so my boys will be sitting down to lunch around the table. Life’s pretty good over here, too. 🙂

    • Hooray! What a wonderful life! Those are beautiful things you have to wake up to. Enjoy Sunday Roast with your boys! Thanks for sharing. ❤️

  2. Another post from you right when I needed to hear this. My Type 1.5 LADA diagnosis in 2017 at age 61 was shocking, scary and depressing. Reading your positive and optimistic posts have helped me gain perspective. Happiness isn’t something that I feel all the time yet I spend most of my time trying to be or at least trying to figure out how to be happy. Reviewing your lists gave me some perspective on which of these things have contributed to my happiness (and how not having some of those things has kept me from or limited my happiness.) I have a wonderful husband and loving marriage. I, too, have the advantages that an attractive, fair-skinned female living in America can enjoy. My childhood was difficult, though, and I regret that it continues to limit my happiness as an adult. I cut my mother out of my life around the time of my Type 1 diagnosis and think that diabetes and my mother were just too big for me to handle at the same time. I plan to re-read this post and see if there is something that I can actively focus on that will direct me more towards the light. Keep blogging.

    • Thank you for your note and your encouragement. Congratulations on your loving marriage and other beautiful things in your life. I too have cut a couple of negative/destructive people out of my life, and I am very glad I did.
      I wish you the best! Hugs to you!

  3. Kath and I are sitting here and I just read your post out loud. We both enjoyed it and I love, love, love it!
    I was crying so much when you were describing Dan that I couldn’t talk…you really know the awesome person that he is.
    I am happy that you are happy and that you are a beautiful daughter to me!
    The next time you are in Tampa we can enjoy sitting in our screened porch…so cozy.
    MyLoveAlways,
    Mom Whitehawk

    • Thank you, Mom Whitehawk! I am glad you enjoyed it. YOU are a big part of my happiness too!
      Looking forward to enjoying the screened porch with you!

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