Happiness Throughout A Life

pswenson's picture




Barbara Mertz

with Patrice swenson

(Conversation biography)


It’s a late night or an early morning, depending on how you look at it. The clock says 2am and I’m up again. My body doesn't quite function the way it used to but oh how my mind and memories swirl like a whispering wind, reminding me of all the things that brought me happiness throughout my life. It would be easy to focus on the end as some might think being 87 years old… is OLD!

I have the unique opportunity to offer some wisdom to those of you with fewer years of experience. In every life there will be highs and lows, challenges, sorrows, joys, fun, and a collection of moments that become your past. Each person will have a different past, a different now and yet a different future. But one thing for sure, we’ll all remember the things that stood out and made us feel good. You may not remember all the names or all the words, but you’ll remember the feelings like it was yesterday.

When I was asked to recall what came to mind first about being happy over the years at different stages of my life, I had to ponder a moment…but only a moment. There was one thing above all that stood out…but it wasn't a certain person or a certain memory…it was a feeling…the feeling of warmth when you lift someone’s day, the feeling of being needed when you help pay a bill, the feeling of appreciation when you hear the joy in someone’s voice who you've just helped, the feeling of enlightenment when you realize it’s not about what you've been given but what you can give. This is my legacy, my happy place, my memory, my joy…my gift.

Throughout my life I can remember certain things, being a kid and getting fresh baked bread from the neighbor lady and how good it tasted with warm butter and a little brown sugar. Being pulled by a cart harnessed by a Billy goat…and how it felt to be young and adventurous at 18, riding a bus to Oklahoma City to marry a young good looking sailor! Those were the days! As time went on, I recall so many joys and struggles but even those struggles became my joys as we figured things out and fixed things up and accomplished so much. Raising a large family, I recall little things that involved making something out of practically nothing, being creative because we didn’t’ have money.

The years went on and my body began to age but my mind is young and vibrant because I still have that young adventurous spirit inside me…where my body won’t take me now, my mind will! Today my joys are a call from one of my kids, the proud feelings I have for each one of them and all the amazing grandchildren we have. Feeling proud of someone else and feeling peace when I lay down at night, knowing they are all happy with the paths they've taken, gives me my serenity. It’s not about what I’d do or even if I understand their choices, it’s about being happy for someone because they’re happy. As you get older, you realize more each day that no one is really looking for someone older or wiser to teach them or tell them what to do but to support them in their choices and allow them to enjoy their life journey. They love to hear my stories and that brings me joy, what they get out of it, is up to them!

My words of wisdom for what’s it’s worth, are to let go of the bad, hold onto the good and take yourself and everyone else with a grain of salt…we all make mistakes and we all learn as we go. I think if you want happiness, it begins by bringing it to someone else…you see, there is no complex solution to your problems…it’s quite simple…just give to others and you will smile more, love deeper and build another moment to cherish.

 Conversations with Barbara is an on-going series; look for more conversations and the wisdom she brings to the table...