The Courage to Be Happy

Throughout my life, I’ve had the good fortune to meet people who inspired me and challenged me to grow into who I am today. Asimenia was one of my high school teachers. She taught Greek literature and philosophy. She embodied everything a teacher and mentor should be. She was strong and inspiring and I adored her.

During one of the most vulnerable times in my life, she saw something in me I couldn’t see. She took me under her wing, became my mentor and showed me what strength of spirit looked like.

She continued being there for me even after I graduated high school. During one of our times together she taught me one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned.

Asimenia was a weaver. She had this great big loom in her house. One day, as she was showing me her work, she noticed that I kept admiring the white lace she had woven while she kept pointing out the off-white cloth. Eventually she turned to me and said: “You know there are many shades between black and white. You don’t want to be a “black or white” person.” Hearing this made my mind stop.

Was I a “black or white” person? Of course I was. I was only nineteen at that time. What else can could I have been at nineteen?

The years went by and her words never left me. Life provided me with plenty of opportunities to experience the consequences of “black or white” thinking and I can say that it’s exactly this kind of thinking that can hold us back and make us blind to our good fortune.

In my work, I’m often reminded of how hard it is for people to get past their beliefs and expectations. As a result, they take for granted all they have and all they are and choose to focus on what they don’t have instead.

It takes courage to be happy, truly happy. It takes letting go and the willingness to accept what is and find the treasure hidden in everything. It’s not about positive thinking. It’s a whole different way of thinking!

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