20: Cupcakes and Karma

20: Cupcakes and Karma

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness

Cupcakes and Karma

We have to learn to be our own best friends because we fall too easily into the trap of being our own worst enemies.

~Roderick Thorp

For most adults, managing the daily demands of a job, spouse, kids, home and community can be challenging, not to mention stressful. Since I was one of those mom-wife-employee-homemaker types who couldn’t say “no,” I soon developed combat tactics to dispatch my duties with military precision and efficiency.

A two-hundred-page report by morning? No problem! Five thousand cupcakes for the kindergarten class by noon tomorrow? Can do! I formed a battle plan, launched my attack and took no prisoners. Bring it on: the school board, the homeowner’s association, the Cub Scouts. I felt invincible. But where was the joy?

Yes, I was super-productive. But in spite of everything I did for others, at considerable cost to my health and sanity, I felt empty, angry and unappreciated. I know now that I was the only one to blame.

After getting knocked on my keister with a diagnosis of breast cancer, I decided to take stock of my life — or what might be left of it. On my doctor’s orders — reduce stress and take better care of myself — I finally realized I needed a gentler approach to life. And that’s when I discovered an amazing phenomenon called “Karma.”

I don’t know who came up with the idea that the energy you send out into the universe each day will be returned to you in kind, but two thumbs up for that guy. He was light years ahead of the rest of us.

At first I was skeptical — surely it couldn’t be that simple — but I was fresh out of ideas and desperate to turn my life around. So I made a slight adjustment to my morning routine. I looked in the mirror and asked myself what feeling I wanted to have returned to me that day. And the answer was always, “Joy!”

Before I could share joy, however, I needed to find some. And that’s exactly what I did. First, I had to let go of years of pent-up anger in order to make room in my heart for happiness. Next, I changed my career to one that is more fulfilling and nurtures my creative spirit.

Given my recent health scare, I realized that time is too precious to waste. I now spend my treasured moments only with people I enjoy, surrounding myself with mentors and close friends who share inspiration, laughter and fun, and provide a strong support system for life’s ups and downs.

Donating my time and talents to help others is still high on my priority list. When given in the right spirit, it’s an investment that pays big dividends in joy. Instead of saying “yes” to every request, however, I carefully choose the projects that are closest to my heart. So please don’t ask me to make cupcakes. I love eating them; I just don’t enjoy making them. But I’d be glad to help with an art project instead.

Old habits are hard to break, especially when you reach my age. But even though it took me more than fifty years to discover the path to a happier life, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Every day I look into that mirror and ask myself the same question, and the answer fills my heart with joy. And if that joy arrives in the form of a cupcake made by someone else, it’s even better!

~Gloria Hander Lyons

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