As I sit here drinking a morning cup of coffee, marveling at the sunflowers and rolling hills of southwest France, I can’t help, but be happy and appreciative of life. This brief moment of introspection came about because I received some sad news concerning a friend, and the timeliness of the book Option B by Sheryl Sandberg. She writes about the death of her husband and the impact this event had on her and her children. It’s a tad preachy and at times self-centered, but there are enough pearls of wisdom sprinkled throughout the book to make the reading thought provoking.

So often we go about our days never realizing that life can change in a minute. Through no fault of our own, a loved one is taken and our universe is turned inside out. Everyone reacts differently to death and the grief that follows. Emotions can be so raw that the simplest task feels herculean. We say things and act in ways that are completely beside our expected character.

When my mother passed away, I couldn’t tell the funeral director some simple information, even though I knew it well. I heard the question and my brain tried to process the information, but all I could do was stare blankly unable to pull the information from the deep recesses of my brain. I’m grateful that my sister still talks to me today, given some of the things that I said. Let’s just say it was not my finest hour. After some time, we start to coast, get through a few hours, a day, eventually a week.

Eventually time brings a sense of healing and then we will need to decide whether we want to be happy.

Often we are caught up in a vicious cycle of comparison, highlighting what we don’t have, instead of appreciating what we do have. More often than not, this comparison ends up being destructive. A cheeky person once said, don’t bother looking at others, since someone is always richer, thinner or younger. I was reminded of this the other day at a fundraising luncheon. Rather than being appreciative that they were in attendance, I heard several financial comparisons with other guests. It was hard not to arch an eyebrow and give my mother-death-stare as the person lamenting definitely qualified for classification in the 1% and her net worth was in the 8 figures.

All this to simply point out that happiness might just be our choice. As with many things, you have to work at staying happy. I like to think the feeling behaves similarly to the ebb and flow of the tides. It’s always there even at low tide. We just need to walk towards being happy lean in, and begin to float.