“Life may be complicated but…happiness is really pretty simple.” — Author Unknown

During the many years I’ve been putting pen to pencil writing this weekly composition, there’s probably one theme or subject I’ve chosen more than any other — happiness.

To be honest, for the life of me I don’t understand why some people appear to be more-happy than others, but that presumption has always been a point of purposeful fascination for me. And if I were to attempt an educated guess, it would be that the happiest among us are the ones who are the most optimistic about life no matter the circumstances.

My own mother was a perfect example of what I mean. Throughout her life she certainly had more than her fair share of misfortune. Growing up in England during the early years of World War II meant spending her nights in a homemade corrugated tin air-raid shelter on and off for almost 19 months. Add to that the constant anxiety and apprehension about three of her four brothers fighting abroad for almost five years during the world-wide conflict.

Then came a 10-year separation from my father leaving her a struggling single mom raising her only son in post-war Great Britain. But despite the adversities she faced providing for me as well as other members of her family with no financial support from her husband, she remained optimistic and always sported a happy outlook toward life.

Much the same is a story I once heard told by a well-known Baptist minister about an old musician who had a great love for music even though he was a somewhat less than an average violinist. Nonetheless, while playing his antique violin, the man never failed to charm those who were listening.

Once when asked the secret to his success despite his limited talent, the old man held out his faithful violin, tenderly caressing its curves and replied: “A great deal of sunshine must have gone into this wood and so what has gone in comes out.”

Whether what he said about the violin is true or not, that idea is certainly valid when it comes to our lives. Indeed, if our hearts and minds are open to the sunshine of goodness and gladness, happiness will radiate from within us.

And throughout my years of living, there’s little doubt I’ve found the happiest among us tend to be the ones who are most optimistic about life no matter what.

It’s much like the old angler who was sitting patiently in the shade by the river staring at his unmoving line. A passerby noticed the fisherman and asked him how many had had caught. “Well,” the old gentleman said as he looked up with a twinkle in his eye, “when I’ve caught one and then another — I’ll have a couple.”

That sounds a lot like my mother who optimistically believed that true happiness was always about the journey, never the destination.


Mike Fitsko is a retired principal and longtime columnist from New Braunfels.

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