Choosing Happiness in the Face of Hardship

I’ve chosen to be the kind of person who wakes up every morning thankful to be alive and ready…

I’ve chosen to be the kind of person who wakes up every morning thankful to be alive and ready to love life. Happiness is a choice we make. Perspective is key.

I believe these things and live this way for many reasons, but one is undeniable and unwavering—my father, a girl’s best friend. I sometimes ask myself how I got so lucky to have been raised by such exceptional people.

Life is so fragile, and we don’t realize it until something hits us right in the face, usually when we least expect it.

My father was diagnosed with brain cancer last year. I felt a shift on all planes of my existence the day I found out. Recently, just as 2015 came rolling around, we learned that the cancer had rapidly spread and we only have months left together.

I share this with you because you may have experienced losing a loved one or some other life altering experience that suddenly made you question your purpose, re-evaluate what’s truly important in your life, or forced you to appreciate what you have. These moments are part of life—the stuff we all must accept and overcome. Choosing happiness, hard as it may be, can make it just a bit easier.

I have decided to take this time to allow myself to be overwhelmed with gratitude, love, and self-awareness. It is in the darkest moments that we learn the most about ourselves. Life challenges us so we become stronger and understand what it’s like to fight for what we believe in. It’s when we are forced to discover our most authentic self.

Life is tough. Learn to love it anyway.

Appreciate where you come from and honor the path you find yourself on every single day. Find joy in the small things, tell people you love them, howl at the moon, and revel in the interconnectedness of the universe. All things living and passed are somehow linked and, thus, we are never truly lost.

I leave you with an excerpt from a letter from my dad. It is my hope that it will fuel inspiration deep within you, and you will find your own seed of greatness.

“I believe that each of us had a dream placed in our hearts and that we just have to unlock our hearts and release it into the world. Just as a small piece of gravel or dirt placed inside an oyster can grow into a pearl of great value, so each of us has a seed of greatness within.” – Rick Perkal

zuzuZuzu Perkal is an independent artist, photographer, yoga instructor, and adventure enthusiast in Austin, Texas. Her days are filled with coffee, paint, and daydreams. She believes mistakes are simply a beautiful opportunity for growth and that our own life experiences serves as our most valuable teachers. Zuzu recently graduated from Wanderlust’s first Teacher Training Program and is on a mission to continually expand her consciousness while following her journey down the yogic path. She is currently experimenting with the concept of a floating yoga studio and mixed medium practice.