April Jeppson: Difficult but necessary choices for happiness

Published 8:45 pm Friday, April 12, 2024

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Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

On my way out the door this morning, I noticed that my kitchen table was still covered in newspaper and art supplies. Although I “forced” my children to paint with me for an hour this weekend, it turned into a few hours of fun for everyone. It was cool to watch each child’s individual personality and style come out in their art. To hear them applaud each other over what they created — well, it warmed my heart. So although I still have a pretty sizely mess to clean up, it was 100% worth it.

April Jeppson

My quote of the day in my office reads, “Happiness: A feeling that is created within you and by you. No one else can construct it and hand it to you.”

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There’s this drawing of two people, where one is holding a jar labeled “happiness.” The empty-handed individual says, “Where did you find that? I’ve been searching for it everywhere.”

The person replies with a smile, “I created it myself.”

It’s true. No matter what you do or who you’re with, happiness is a very personal decision. I’ve met people who seemingly have everything going for them, and they are miserable. On the opposite spectrum I know many who are genuinely happy and have every reason not to be. I’ve always admired those who could justifiably be sad and yet they chose to look for the good.

As someone who actively tries to keep my little jar full, I’ll be the first to say, it’s not always easy. It requires conscious effort to create happiness. Just because you showered once, doesn’t mean you never have to shower again. Same concept applies to many areas of life. I’m pretty sure I could compile a small book of articles I’ve written on my pursuit of happiness.

It’s not just the creation of it though, you also have to actively protect what’s in your jar. Comparison, worry, spending time with negative people or even your own negative thoughts — these will siphon out whatever happiness you worked so hard for. It can be difficult to pinpoint which activities are actively working against you. It can be even more difficult when you realize that it’s a friend or family member that is literally draining you.

I wasn’t aware of how unhappy I was a few months ago. A co-worker saw how one person’s actions were stealing my joy and eventually pointed it out to me.

I couldn’t see it. Even after light had been shed on the subject, I rejected the truth. In hindsight, it was so hard for me to grasp because I thought of this person as a friend. How could a friend be bad for you? It didn’t make sense to me.

Fast forward to this week, and I can physically feel how much lighter my life is. I was oblivious to how toxic the relationship was and therefore had no comprehension of its negative effects. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t matter how much you care for someone, if they are bad for your health, they need to go. You can still care for someone without allowing them to have access to your life. Like most things worth doing, it won’t be easy but it will be worth it.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.