When I was in my early teens, I spent the summer working as a waitress at a summer camp. One of my weekend duties was to clean between groups. As I was cleaning the lodge one week, I encountered a woman who was still there because she was ill. Yet she was sitting up in bed smiling and laughing with her family.
Since then, I've observed this phenomenon many times, but that first experience really stuck with me. The terminal patients on the oncology floor where we did clinicals in nursing school often surprised me in the same way. After reading the chart of a woman who had a very grim prognosis, I went into her room and found her happily listening to Stevie Nicks on headphones. We dreaded those patients the most, but maybe they taught us the most. Not about medicine, but about life.
Today my lovely friend Shewcbn reminded me not to spend life chasing happiness, but to simply choose happiness. I agree with her. I've had some hard days lately and cried a lot of tears, and it isn't over by any means. But this morning in bed, I forced myself to breathe deeply, fully exhale, and go to a happy place, just like I tell nervous hospital patients to do. And despite these difficult days, my happy place is still there, and I can still be happy in it.