A Story from Sandi’s Happiness Class

Jan (not her real name) was in my happiness class a few years back.  Her birthday was the Saturday before this class, and she had been anxious and a little depressed about turning 50.  Here’s her story:

“Saturday was my birthday and all my friends were there.  It was my 50th birthday so we celebrated at Café Istanbul with the belly dancer going hoochy-coo and it was all fun and good.   That afternoon, I went to get my nails done you know, just get a manicure.  The woman at the nail salon—I pick her because nobody ever picks her.  She’s got really messed up teeth.  She’s from Vietnam and she doesn’t talk very well.  She’s one of the happiest people. “

“I told her it was my birthday and she said, “Well, I don’t have a birthday.”“

“I said, “You don’t have a birthday?””

“She tells me this horrific story which made me think and I wrote it in my little gratitude book that I’m glad I have my birthday.  When her mother was pregnant with her, her mother was a nurse and her father was a doctor and he was blown up in the war.  So, her mother spent like three years looking for her husband and she had the baby and she already had another daughter.  They had no food.  They had no house.  So, she spent all this time looking for her husband and so she said, “You were born in the summer, I think.  I don’t really know.  You were born in 1967.”“

“Then, the nail woman says, “Then, my mom married another man and he was a farmer so we had to go herd the cows when I was like 5 years old and I couldn’t do it.  I ran away.”  They sold her to a woman and she ended up in a refugee camp in the Philippines for 17 years and then she finally made it to America and she works in a nail salon and she is tickled pink.  She is the happiest person. “

“I wrote in my little thing, I’m happy to be me.  I know when my birthday is.  That kind of changed my thought of “well, I’m going to be 50 and I’m not where I want to be in life really” and all these little…I was putting this little negative spin on it.  I left that nail salon and thought, “Gosh, I’m doing well.  I need to be thankful for who I am and what I’m doing.””

It’s all in the perspective.