I have to admit that since my mother’s death last year, I’ve been asking myself if she was happy in her life. I know her goal was a to have a family and I know she loved being a mother, but did she find the fulfillment in it that she always thought she would?

It’s made me examine my own life a lot deeper. I don’t want my own children wondering the same thing about me.

Success is one of those slippery things to define. We all think success will make us happy. In truth, happiness makes us successful. Yes, it is the other way around. Try this: the next time someone praises you about your art, really think about your immediate actions. Do you discount what they have said? Do you feel successful, like you’ve accomplished something? How long does that feeling last? Chances are, when someone says your work is beautiful, you say, “Thank you,” and move on. It doesn’t really touch your heart. It doesn’t last long. Now, the next time you find yourself really happy, take a look back at all the things you’ve accomplished with your art. Doesn’t that make you feel awfully dang successful and proud of yourself? It’s easy to discount your feeling of success when someone else says it to you, but harder to discount it when you are already happy in your life.

So, yes, when I think back over my mother’s life, she was successful with her goal of having her family but I often wonder if it was a “be careful of what you wish for” time. I don’t know if she was every happy. I look back over pictures of her life and I see a beautiful woman smiling back. There is a whole other side that I never realized was there. I don’t even know if she realized how beautiful she was. I think if she had found herself beautiful, she would’ve been happier. But she could never allow herself to see it.

That goes back to what I was talking about earlier this week: choice.

We choose to be happy. We choose our emotions — we create them much like we create our art. Moment by moment. We could be angry at the person who cut us off in traffic, or we could be grateful they didn’t hit our car, or we could remember that they might just not have seen us or realized how close they were. Our brains are full of flotsam all the time and we can screw up on occasion by thinking about something else. Strangely enough, we chose to think about that flotsam rather than driving!

Don’t look for success. Find that which makes you happy and you’ll always be filled with abundance. Well, that and remembering to choose wisely for your happiness is a choice only you can make.

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