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There are people who can wake up in the morning with a great big smile on their faces. There are those who can walk with their heads held high, chins up.

I am not one of those people. Or at least, I wasn’t.

Maybe I was born shy. A natural wall flower? Perhaps. But one thing was for sure, I didn’t know how to be happy. And being a miserable person alienated others. I thought at first that I could get used to the silence of being alone. But the silence got deafening. And I became empty. Fear, sadness and anger crept in and filled that void. Where was I to turn to? Who was I to confide in? I felt I had no one, nobody, and nothing by my side.

At a time when I thought I was lost, a light helped me find my path. Faith was what brought me back. Through prayer, I found the silence to be inviting – a time to reflect and commune with God. I also found out that I was never truly alone – that I just had to learn to let people in (to no longer be afraid of getting hurt) – and more importantly, to be “OK” with just being with myself. So meals, shopping, or coffee breaks could be had with or without family, friends or colleagues around.

If you don’t love yourself properly, then being with yourself can be unbearable. But the change started with just being OK with being alone. That was the first phase. Again, through prayer, I realized that I didn’t love myself properly. Later on I had to unearth whatever faults and failings I’ve committed towards myself. I learned to apologize and forgive, not just other people but myself too. Slowly, but surely, I worked on taking care of myself, treating myself fairly, and avoiding negative self-talk.

It’s not about being self-centered, but about knowing how to love (yourself) in order to love others too. It’s not about being a victim of circumstance, but being a person who lives life and meets it head on. It’s not just about having the finer things in life but also reveling in the simple things – a hot cup of coffee, freshly baked pandesal, a sunny day, a light drizzle, a glimpse of a rainbow, a discount on a favorite item/brand, finding something that you thought was lost, a bargain find at a tiangge, a warm hug, a kiss, a smile from someone unexpected, or sharing a laugh with a friend.

I owe a lot to my family and friends, because they stuck by me even when I was (unconsciously) pushing them away. And I owe a lot to our church and prayer community for helping me strengthen my faith. I’m still not as strong as I would like to be, but at least my faith is on stronger and sturdier ground. It is built on the rock of faith in Christ.

I was supposed to name this note as “A journey to happiness” but I realized that that would be the wrong title – because it wasn’t a journey towards happiness, rather, this was a journey of being happy. Choosing to be happy. The destination is something to look forward to, and I have my eyes set on it, but to be able to be happy is to live in this moment, to love in this moment. It is a choice.

So now I walk with the wind at my back, the sun shining on my up turned face, and a smile in my heart. May we soon cross paths as we go about our happy journeys.

Originally posted on Facebook.
Submitted to: I Commit to Change in Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/icommittochange)