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Mary Clista Dahl: Focus on loving others creates a joy-filled life

“I am happier when I love than when I am loved. I adore my husband, my son, my grandchildren, my mother, my dog and, frankly, I don’t know if they even like me. But who cares? Loving them is my joy.” – Writer Isabel Allende

Those words echo my philosophy, yet I hesitate to share, because when I do, I’m often met with skepticism. Generating love, energy and joy from loving others, although a way of life to me, is a difficult concept for many to grasp or understand. Yet it is all I need, beyond a pen, notebook and nature, to sustain my simple life.

The media announce daily that we are overwhelmed by stress caused by work and family, yet I do not feel this. Contentment results from my choice not to buy into that. At work, I do my best to welcome and serve my customers; the other issues are out of my control. And my family is a genuine source of delight for me, not stress. I’m grateful for the opportunity to support, love and laugh with them.

My quiet demeanor often has me misinterpreted as someone who lacks confidence. There is some truth to that when it comes to my participation in mainstream conversation about the latest technology, what’s happening on television or “trending.” And gossiping and complaining drag me down, so I choose not to participate in those topics because they make me uncomfortable.

Yet in matters of the heart, fostering relationships and living life on my own terms to the fullest every day, I am 100 percent self-assured. There’s something to be said about inner confidence, invisible to the naked eye.

I also don’t freely share my opinions. If asked, I offer my perspective; otherwise I’m silent because I trust others know what’s best for their situations, and it’s important to let them be accountable for their decisions.

Since I am patient, I’ve also been described as someone who sacrifices my life for others. Quite the contrary, I’m having way too much fun on this planet to ever become a martyr. I wouldn’t give up my life for anyone; I enhance mine through the people I care most about by finding ways to make theirs better – because it’s fun, and I thrive on that. There’s a big difference.

I like to be spontaneous, yet trivial details of where to dine, what to do, where to go, etc., don’t carry much weight for me. Simply place me in any situation interacting with my peeps and I’m happy. Make it in front of a sunset, underneath a starry sky or rainbow and it’s amplified. Put me on a beach and it’s bliss. But if everyone wants to do something else, I’m happy to oblige because I know I will savor every moment of whatever we do because we’re spending precious time together.

I place little value on material things. Fancy cars, romance, jewelry, constant attention, money or upscale accommodations don’t impress me. None of those trumps the positive vibes, laughter, love or permanency that comes from the peeps interaction experience.

Tell me about yourself. Share that bright-eyed smile that comes with talking about what you’re passionate about and let me encourage you to pursue your dreams. Allow me to celebrate with you when they come true. I will listen intently for the sake of the joy it brings me.

Thank you, Isabel, for speaking my mind. For although it sometimes has my family members rolling their eyes and calling me sentimental, I, too, am much happier when I love. There is no stress.