Sometimes, when I need a little positive push—some encouragement, inspiration, motivation, or even just a reminder—I turn to quotes. Lately, there have been a few “sticky” words of wisdom to help remind me to “choose joy” on a daily basis.
Trying to be happy without giving to others is like trying to kiss alone. – Brian Vaszily
For Valentine’s Day, I got my husband tickets to see his favorite singer perform live in concert. We don’t always exchange Valentine’s gifts. This was just a clever ruse to get him to go away with me for some quality time, just the two of us, taking a short break from work and the kids. I managed to score a couple of great tickets at a great price for the very last day of the concert tour (thanks, StubHub!). Personally, I had never been a fan of this singer. I always thought her songs were too mellow and depressing for my taste. Hubman, on the other hand, had been an avid fan since college but had never been to any of her concerts—he was thrilled about the tickets. Seeing him happy naturally made me happy, and I giddily looked forward to our mini getaway.
An effort made for the happiness of others lifts above ourselves. – Lydia M. Child
When the day of the concert arrived, I toiled over what to wear. What does one wear to a Sarah McLachlan concert? I finally decided on a red top, black skirt, and knee-hi boots. I selected a necklace to go with the outfit, dropped it into a small pouch, and placed it all in the overnight bag along with a pair of jeans and shirt to wear on the ride home the next day. In addition to the usual toiletry items, I also packed a curling iron, some hair products, a makeup bag, and a small bottle of perfume. Pausing for a moment to look at my bulging bag, I wondered if I might be overdoing it—we were only going for one night. But it had been a long time since we’d had a date night so I wanted to put in the extra effort for my husband. I put on a pair of jeans for the three hour drive to Memphis and made plans to change before dinner once we got to the hotel.
In the end, I could have shaved several pounds off my bag had I just left that “extra effort” at home. We got to the hotel and I took a few minutes to change and freshen up. When I emerged, Hubman had on the same jeans and t-shirt he wore that morning to work. I’m pretty sure I heard the air deflate from my party balloon—or, maybe it was the sound of a million once-joyful voices crying out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.
“Wow. I feel really underdressed now,” he commented. “This is what I’m wearing,” gesturing to the clothes on his body (in case I thought he might be referring to an outfit hidden someplace else?).
“Oh. Okay…” I responded. “Should I wear jeans too, then?”
“I want you to be comfortable,” he said. “You look really nice. I didn’t bring anything else to wear. Sorry.”
“No problem. I’ll just put my jeans back on. It’s no big deal,” I shrugged off my disappointment and began undoing some of the effin’ effort.
Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain. – Joseph Campbell
Ultimately, we both had a great time together (despite the destruction of Alderaan before dinner—RIP, little joyful voices). It was very humid that night in Memphis so curling my hair was another pointless effort, as was using deodorant and perfume. Walking hand in hand with my sweetheart down Union Avenue, however, was absolute bliss. And by the time we got to Beale Street, my feet also felt like blis—ters screaming “KILL! KILL!” with every step I took. We finally made it to the theatre and found our seats, which turned out to be really good seats—about the 7th row with a great view of the stage. The joy and excitement on Hubman’s face as he took it all in made everything worthwhile. I forgot about the blisters and just let myself be happy in the moment.
Hubman thoroughly enjoyed the concert, and I only yawned once. That was because the man sitting in front of me kept trying unsuccessfully to suppress his yawns. He was obviously there only to make his wife happy. As for myself, I was surprised at how much I actually enjoyed the concert. When I wasn’t particularly into a song, I kept myself entertained by watching the people in the seats around us. It was fascinating to see how people were moved by the music and felt compelled to their feet to dance despite the depressing lyrics. The music was very good though, I’ll admit.
Have a little laugh at life, and look around you for happiness instead of sadness. – Red Skelton
So, I also have to admit that I’ve become a bit of a Sarah McLachlan fan since watching her in concert. I think she’s incredibly gifted and talented. She has a hauntingly beautiful, unique singing voice and she comes across as personable and friendly on stage. It turns out we have something in common. At one point in her set, she dedicated a song to her father who recently passed away. It was April 1, his birthday. Coincidentally, April 1st is my dad’s birthday as well. And, I missed him. You know, when you go to a concert, you don’t expect to cry—at least, I don’t. But I blinked tears listening to that song she wrote for her father. I really wish she had happier, uplifting, up-tempo songs.
Sarah McLachlan has a great sense of humor about her music. During the breaks, she interacted with her fans. One fan mentioned that she listened to Sarah’s songs while she ran. Without missing a beat Sarah responded, “You must run slowly.” And, at the end of the show, when she returned to her wildly cheering fans for an encore, she acknowledged their enthusiasm with this intro to the next song… “Now that I’ve got you all excited, I’m going to bring it way, way, WAY, way down.” She warned the audience as she sat down in front of her piano and began to play “Angel”—a song notoriously known as “the dog song” because it’s the soundtrack for the heart-wrenchingly sad ASPCA commercials on animal cruelty. Her fans ate it up, and I couldn’t help but love her despite her depressing music—she made me laugh out loud.
Comparison is the thief of joy. – Theodore Roosevelt
Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them. – Leo Tolstoy
The next morning, when I opened my eyes, Hubman was already awake. He was sitting up in bed listening to Sarah McLachlan on his phone. I propped up my pillows next to him and we reminisced about the concert, commenting on the parts we especially enjoyed. He thanked me again for the gift and for reminding him how much he loved Sarah McLachlan’s music. I was delighted that I could make him happy. He looked back down at his phone to catch up on more Sarah McLachlan news and continued listening to music. I spent a few more minutes staring at him stare down at his phone before I imagined myself grabbing the phone out of his hands and throwing it across the room. Um, hello…over here? We’re alone…there aren’t any kids jumping in bed with us…I’m getting cold! I happen to know that if it were any other time, I would have had his full attention, but I wasn’t going to compete with Sarah right then. He was lost in the moment. And I am not a joy killer. Sometimes it’s enough just to watch someone else be happy.
– Huyen Le
Huyen loves black coffee, red wine, twisty roads, everything about autumn, the cool spot on the pillow, British television, German cars, European dance music and Hobbits. Her favorite time of the day is night. Huyen is an indy graphic designer. She has a bachelor’s degree in English. Her favorite color is red. She stands 4’10”-ish (on the outside—but, much taller on the inside). Huyen was born in South Vietnam and feels blessed with an amazing husband and two incredible boys. Happy and at times conflicted, she wants peace and craves for adventure. Huyen lives in Florence, Alabama.