“Never really.” That was my friend’s response to my question regarding when, not if, she’d ever seen me truly happy. While her response took me by surprise, the longer I thought about it, the more I realized she was right.
Not long after this, I turned 50 years old. How did this much time go by during which I wasn’t happy, living with anxiety and often depression? At the time, I didn’t realize that the common belief for how to achieve happiness isn't accurate. We don’t become happy WHEN we get that job, car, house, mate, and dream. We get happy when we decide to be happy and with plenty of work involved.
For my entire life, I had been an over-thinker. I was always ruminating on the past, anxious about the future, or both. I wasn’t living in the present. It was no way to live and certainly no way to be happy.
I determined shortly after that birthday, that I was going to figure out how to become happy and do the work involved. I, like so many people, had seen “The Secret” and decided that I wanted to change my life. I began reading various books, including ones about the Law of Attraction, mindfulness, the power of positive thought, and more.
I realized a key step to happiness, for me, was to practice gratitude. I started by thinking about 5-10 things for which I was grateful before falling asleep at night. I wrote 5-10 things each morning as well. I also learned about a practice of walking a certain distance, silently saying “thank you” with each step. I did that whenever I could. With these activities, I found myself slowly turning a corner, feeling grateful for a blue sky, white clouds, a good laugh, payday, finding a nickel on the ground, and more every day. It sounds easy as I write this, but trust me, it wasn’t. I kept at it until I eventually drowned out my negative brain’s counter messages. I still practice it every day.
Now I’m doing my best to help others improve their lives as well. One of my greatest passions, for which I am grateful every day, is photography. Through photography I share the transformative power of gratitude with others, and maintain my own gratitude practice. I use the principles of therapeutic photography to help women in transition move from uncertainty and disconnection to clarity and passion, to make the rest of their lives the best of their lives! One great method for this is to go for a walk with a camera and set an intention to notice and capture images of things that are beautiful and/or interesting. Before you know it, your gratitude will grow!
Practicing gratitude helps keep me in the present. I find it utterly fascinating that, through gratitude, I no longer spend much time in the past or too far into the future. I am pretty well ensconced in the here and now, and it is amazing. Gratitude changed my life. I hope it can help change yours too!
BLOG BONUS: Sue’s Book Recommendations
Since Sue mentioned the important role books played in her journey, I asked her if she could provide a list of books that she found particularly transformative. The list that follows are Sue’s book recommendations. Enjoy!
- E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality by Pam Grout
- You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
- The Magic Path of Intuition by Florence Scovel Shinn
- The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
- The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith by Gabrielle Bernstein
- When Everything Changes, Change Everything: In a Time of Turmoil, A Pathway to Peace by Neale Donald Walsch
- The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: SUE LYON-MYRICK
Sue is a wife, mother to two teenagers, and former marketing professional, who now spends her days (when not supporting her son with online school or her daughter with her volleyball serve) creating products and services to help others with all that she learned on her journey to happiness in mid-life. She is a photographer, guide, and facilitator, who is passionate about using the principles of therapeutic photography to help women make the rest of their lives the best of their lives.
Sue offers a creative photo challenge called “Recapturing Your Authentic Self,” which includes an entire week focused on gratitude. You can participate in the photo challenge by connecting with Sue on Instagram or Facebook. Sue has also created several Guided Photo Walks, which she hopes to make available as downloadable MP3’s. Connect with Sue and find out more about her therapeutic photography work through her websites and social media: