Day 27: How I became happier by accident

Our newest participant: The Towers at Rutgers!!

By Lucila McElroy

A couple of years ago my husband celebrated his 40thbirthday.   He is a “take control” kind of guy and planned out his own present: a week for the two of us in Mexico.  I decided that for this special birthday I was going to outdo him but how could I surpass a week in Mexico?

After months of brainstorming I suddenly had an idea.  What if I could celebrate his greatness for 40 days?  I know.  It might sound a little nutty but what do you give someone who has everything?  (or maybe that was the excuse I made up for not wanting to be materialistic).

The idea was born and I knew that he would love it (what can I say, my husband loves attention).  But what I didn’t know is that this idea would change my life.  So“40 ways in 40 days to celebrate Kevin’s Greatness” became a reality.

During one of the weeks, he received daily cards from our  girls listing one “thing we love about dad”.  Another day, the girls and I surprised him and took him to a velodrome (he loves cycling) and all of us received lessons.

About half way through the 40 days people started to comment that I seemed different, calmer, happier.  “What have you changed in your life?” they would ask.  “Nothing” I would answer “but I agree with you, I feel happier than ever.” And one day it dawned on me: in the process of acknowledging my husband’s greatness I realized how lucky I was to have him.  I was focusing on what I was grateful for, and someone other than myself.  Without realizing it, I had started a gratitude practice and it felt marvelous.

So when the 40 days were over, I couldn’t stop.  It felt too good.  Since then, I have experimented with various ways to keep gratitude alive.  I am learning to meditate and I have  become a Dharma practitioner. 

My life isn’t always Zen.  Well, it’s not the Zen I always thought I wanted-the perfect ending Hollywood movie kind.  But you know?  Focusing on gratitude has allowed me to acknowledge (and even welcome) the ups and downs that I experience as a human being, as a mother, a friend, daughter and wife.   I am now able to experience prolonged periods of peace of mind even amidst my very real, non-Hollywood life .  My new Zen.  And for this I am grateful.

What experience are you grateful for?