Beach walkThis is photo from my morning walk. I get to stroll up to this gorgeous view every day if I choose to.

It’s an easy walk through beautiful wetlands to get here, and the beach is far enough from any roads that it is always solitary. Because I’m in southern California, the weather is awesome 19 days out of 20, sometime there are even dolphins frolicking in the surf when I visit.

I’m a lucky person. If you lived here wouldn’t you come here every day?

I’ve lived within walking distance of this gorgeous spot for over a year but never visited it regularly, until this year. You see, I hated this place until just a few weeks ago. I’ve written elsewhere about how I had a baby and then moved away from my home, my family, my career, and my community. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done.

It took me many months to grieve the loss of my old home, and, I’m ashamed to admit, during that time I hated my new home. Yes, I hated the palm-tree lined beaches with dolphins frolicking. I tried really hard not to, but I just couldn’t bring myself to love it here.

Do you ever go on vacation and think “if only I lived here, life would be so much better”? That is the kind of place I live. The kind of place that people take vacations to. The kind of place that is featured in movies as paradise. And I fucking hated it.

Finally, and thankfully, after many months of grieving I came to peace with it here. I mean, c’mon, there are DOLPHINS here.

Two things helped me truly find happiness: The first was an extended trip to my old home, and the second was a short daily meditation on gratitude.

“Do you go to the beach a lot?” everyone at home asked me. No, I had to admit, I didn’t, despite living a short walk from it.

So I vowed to start my days with a walk to the beach when I returned to my new home, and I have. As I walk I take some time to really become present with myself, and to notice what I am truly grateful for.

Yesterday upon arriving at this view, it hit me, how lucky I am. I started laughing at how much I hated this place last year, and it made me realize this:

If I could talk myself into being miserable in a place like this, what else was I talking myself into?

We often have a list of external criteria that we think will make us happy. Ironically, in my old hometown, the sunshine was at the top of many people’s list. If only it were sunnier, we would complain. But I had moved to chronically sunny place and it hadn’t mattered. I had set my sights on being miserable, so I was.

When I give myself a little time to become present each day, it is so much easier for me to see that happiness is a choice. It isn’t dependent on external criteria.

When I focus on what I am already happy about I’ve noticed that more things happen to make me happy. I am capable of creating joy, just as easily as I created my own misery.

So that leaves me with one question for you, dear reader: If I could turn a blind eye to beauty such as this, what might you be turning a blind eye to? What self-imposed misery might you be talking yourself into at this very moment? AND more importantly: What paradise might be sitting just a short walk from you right now, and what would it take for you to be able to see it?


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