In her latest Share Your Stories post, Holly Elissa Bruno examines the universal truth that we all yearn for joy. Join in conversation with Holly Elissa and share your thoughts about the ways that searching for happiness amid not-so-happy circumstances can also be a great catalyst for second chances.
“When we come in contact with one who is inspiring, radiant, and spiritual, those same qualities rise up in us.”
“…Qualities rise up in us”
Like you, I prefer a happy heart.
I prefer hopeful to pessimistic and open to closed. I adore a child’s unbidden smile and a dog’s unstoppable wagging body.
I applaud the teacher who, after a long day, opened his front door to be greeted like a returning hero by his dog. If one enthusiastic greeting didn’t uplift the teacher’s spirits enough, he walked directly through his house, out his back door, and around to the front again to be greeted by his pup once again with undying ebullience.
You get the picture: suffering is optional. We can choose hope, can’t we?
Brahms, the elegantly uplifting composer, was raised in a brothel where his mother worked. Neglected, Brahms neither experienced nor learned abiding love. To survive, he played the piano and imagined symphonies. Despite (and/or because of) his broken heart, Brahms’ musical compositions are so poignantly hopeful, he is said to be “smiling through his tears.”
Finding our way out of being downhearted is the definition of a second chance: Do not be discouraged ever, as you struggle along the way. It is the greatest possible detriment to your progress, the worst obstacle you can create to block your path (Paramananda).Staying downhearted steals our ability to enjoy anything. When we lose the light in our own eyes, we lose our ability to spark light in others’ eyes.
Don’t get me wrong—we have reason to feel discouraged. Maybe what a teacher thought was her best lesson plan flops. Maybe Alzheimer’s steals a mother’s capacity to remember her children. Perhaps a long awaited adoption falls through. Maybe I am fired from a job or my friend discovers she inherited the depression gene. Each loss can puncture anyone’s optimism. Abiding in that dark place of downheartedness can begin to feel permanent.
I’ll share one thing I know to be true: Something in our nature yearns for joy. We get “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Brahms managed to smile and cry at the same time. He didn’t pretend he wasn’t lonely. He found he could plumb the depth of his sadness to create something triumphant and enduring.
Arthur Fielder, long time Boston Pops Director, ached intensely from arthritis throughout his body. But when he stepped before the audience that loved him and that he loved, his limp became a stride.
As we give ourselves a second chance, we offer hope to others. One hopeful heart uplifts another. In the presence of a resilient soul, “…those same qualities rise up in us.” No matter how dark the day, we can make a choice: stay open to the possibility of hope. I may feel discouraged; but, each time I enter a room of expectant children or adults, I get a second chance to seek a joyful connection.
Joy, after all, is our birthright. We prefer a happy heart.
Share your stories and tell me: What is Brahms’ secret to creating wonder out of loss? What stirs even the oldest pup’s heart when the teacher walks through his front door? What soothes a wounded spirit until it is restored? What helps you climb out of discouragement, especially when you have ample cause to feel downhearted?
BY LEAVING A COMMENT, I hereby give my permission to Redleaf Press to use my story and quote me (all names will be changed) in Holly Elissa Bruno’s upcoming book on second chances, including in all revised editions of the book, in all formats (including print and electronic) now known or developed in the future, in all languages and territories, and in any other subsidiary editions of the book, and in promotional materials published by Redleaf Press, as it sees fit.
If you’re new to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Share Your Stories series, you can learn more about the project here and read previous posts here. We invite you to share as often and openly as you want—on this post, previous posts, and future posts. Your comments will provide Holly Elissa with unique insight as she writes her next book, and she looks forward to continuing the conversation after the book is published.