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What Are You Waiting For? Choose To Live in Gratitude

“You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.” -Jane Kristen Marczewski
bird sitting in a window

Jane Kristen Marczewski—better known by her stage name Nightbirde—spoke these words after performing her original song, "It's OK," on America's Got Talent.

She won the competition with that performance--she was also dying from cancer.

Nightbirde was an incredible singer, but it was those words at the end of her performance that got my attention the most. I stopped and took an inventory of my own life and asked myself:

  • Where do I forget to decide to be happy because life seems hard?

  • When am I not stepping into gratitude because things aren’t the way I want them, and I’m too focused on what I don’t have?

  • How many times do I miss the opportunity to be authentically happy because I don’t decide to choose happiness?

Do you ever find yourself thinking like this:
  • If my husband/wife/partner would just [blank] I would be happy.

  • If I had more money I could do all the things I want to. Then I would decide to be happy.

  • If I was just 25 pounds lighter and physically fit, then I would get to be happy.

  • If I got promoted in my boring, unfulfilling job then I could be happy.

  • If I could buy a bigger house with a better kitchen, I would be happy.

  • If I drove a fancy car and got noticed by everyone, that would be my happiness for sure.

  • If my kids would just behave, get good grades, and do what I need them to do, then I would be happy.

  • If I could travel and see the world I would finally be happy.

  • If I could live with a guarantee of what tomorrow will bring, I could relax, be content, and then choose happiness.

Focusing On Gratitude

I’m sure there are many more thoughts we’ve all had, and if we look back we’ll realize that this type of thinking and conditioning began when we were young... The struggling middle and high school student looking for happiness by having a lot of friends and being popular. The adolescent that feels they'll be happy when they become an adult at 18, and can go out drinking at 21. The young person who can’t wait until they get married believing that this is when happiness begins. The striving entrepreneur committed to only being happy when they reach a million...

And on and on it goes. 

The question I live in is, why don’t we focus on (and teach) gratitude for what we already have, and who we already are?  We are directed to educate our youth in spelling, reading and math, but do we teach them  how to master gratitude thinking and how to step onto the road to true happiness?

In many of my blogs, I write about the personal development adult groups I get the opportunity to facilitate. When asked what they are hoping to get from the day, the number one answer is, "I want to find freedom, and to be happy."

I wonder... If Nightbirde were still alive and standing in front of these groups, what would she say to them? I can only imagine it would be to live every moment like it's your last, know that "It's OK" to live continually in a state of gratitude, and to love until it hurts.

Deciding To Be Happy

I know life gets busy, stuff happens, and it's easy to lose our focus on what truly matters. Here are a few ideas on how we can remind ourselves to “decide to be happy:"

  • Every morning before your feet hit the floor, think of at least three things you're grateful for.

  • Put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror with two things you already have that make you happy. Each week, change the sticky note to either two different things or keep extending the note until your mirror is full of gratitude.

  • Ask a friend what they have that makes them happy, then share your list.

  • Make a list of all of the things you love to do, and then go do them.  Enroll a friend, or embrace the moment with yourself.

  • Be aware of any negative thoughts that don’t serve your choice to live happy, and replace them with thoughts of gratitude and contentment.

  • Go outside to a peaceful place that you love. Breathe deeply, taking in the privilege of life.


When you have a moment, I invite you to watch the performance I mentioned before. Jane "Nightbirde" Marczewski brought a message to the world that I believe was much needed, and I know her memory will live on.

Let me know in the comments: how do you remind yourself to choose happiness?

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