We Can Choose Joy

We all have the power of choice. As hard as it might be at times, we can choose to wake up in the morning and be in a good mood. Despite bad weather, a burnt breakfast or any other seemingly annoying thing, we can choose to not let it bring down our day.

I thought I knew how to choose joy. After all, I did it in the hardest moments of my life. Throughout my first and second diagnosis with breast cancer, I smiled and handled myself with grace. I found a way to focus on fun despite the hardship. And I learned it from a wonder woman of positive spirit, Mary Ann. On one of my toughest days, just hours after being diagnosed as a 31-year old breast cancer patient, Mary Ann came to me. A kind-hearted and super-souled woman, she guided me through those first six months, helping me understand the intense physical and emotional toll of cancer. She assured me that even as a newlywed cancer patient, I could be happy. I listened. And I was.

I created virtual dance parties and received loving personal videos from my best friends around the county in an effort to push aside the fear and pass time before receiving my scan results.

I laughed hysterically as my husband cut my thinning hair. (Who would have ever imagined a big “C” would be shaved on the side of my head?)

I just wanted to smile, so found ways to incorporate love and laughter in my life, even when I was having a hard time. - Choose Joy
Me and Mary Ann – 2005

Though somehow, when the fear subsided, I no longer needed “fun” or joy as my defense mechanism. As time progressed, I forgot how to really live in the day-to-day. I just got busy.

I’m not alone. Most of western civilization seems to be “busy,” right? We’re all a bit harried, scheduling our work, personal and kids’ routines into a jam-packed day.

Though Mary Ann’s advice helped me have fun in the throws of cancer, I seemed to let go of the rest of her lesson, to choose joy not just in hard times, but in the everyday moments, too. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago with dynamic show tunes blasting in the background. The music came over me, tears running down my face and my body shaken, because I knew this finale touched my heart and I really heard the message this time.

It wasn’t at a broadway show or even a cabaret sing-a-long; it was at a funeral. After thriving with cancer for more than a decade, Mary Ann passed away, leaving a legacy focused on personal joy, health advocacy and breast health education programs. Her funeral was a true celebration of life, from a heartfelt personal homily to a broadway rendition of “Les Miserables” after the mass. Her family continued to radiate her positivity and shared stories of how she embraced life focusing on every moment. It was her choice and she chose joy…during the hard times, big celebrations and even the day-to-day.

Just be positive in the moment. I know it’s easier said than done, but imagine how great it would be to focus more on laughter and love in our daily lives like she did?

How would we feel? Likely loved.

What would we do? We would laugh, smile, feel really warm and fuzzy inside.

What if we just tried a little harder to focus on the positive? It can’t hurt, right?

Even when we are busy or going through the motions, can’t we just find something silly or heartfelt to focus on to bring us to a few minutes of peace?

Life isn’t always easy. I know that. But I also know that we can all choose our attitudes and I choose joy. Thank you, Mary Ann, for the love and laughter all these years and reminding me most recently to choose joy in every moment of life.

If you want to learn more about my cancer mentor, big super sister and angel, Mary Ann Wasil, and how she embraced life, check out her memoir, A Diary of Healing, or the charity that she found, The Get in Touch Foundation.

What tasks in life do you just get through? How can you tweak your routine to enjoy them and choose joy?

Here are some of my favorite inspirational books on happiness and joy. - Choose Joy

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a commission with no costs to you. I pro-actively try various products and then affiliate myself with these items that I already use and love.


  1. What an absolute wonderful way to look at life in general and truly are inspiration for all it sounds like you endured and still to have this outlook. Hugs and thank you for sharing!!!
    Janine Huldie recently posted…Clueless Confessions from This Mom About Nights Out

    • Thank you so much for the kind words. I do try and be positive because sometimes it’s just easier…believe it or not. Mary Ann taught me a lot and showed me how to really thrive with cancer and in life. She has left an amazing legacy and I do hope that I continue to cherish and love the little moments, which make for a wonderful life. xoxo

  2. Oh now I am all teary eyed, but in a good way. Because I am feeling inspired by the stories you shared. Thank you for that my friend :) Hugs!
    Jen recently posted…The Happy Now Blog Link- Up # 7

    • You are so welcome. Thank you for the kind words and for always supporting me. This post really meant a lot to me so I kept rewriting it because I wanted to do her justice. Thanks for showcasing it on your link-up, as well. xoxo

  3. Honestly, I don’t think I have any tasks in life that I just “get through”… I mean, maybe colonoscopy prep? LOL! But everything else, I enjoy. I swear, EVERYTHING! Stuck in traffic? I still enjoy it – thanks to my satellite radio! I choose to be happy about everything because life is way too short to be angry!
    GiGi Eats recently posted…Superheroes Making Salads In The Kitchen

    • You are one-in-a-million. What a fantastic approach to life, which is probably why you are so happy and successful. Sending lots of hugs and healthy food vibes your way. xoxo

  4. Wow! What a truly inspirational post! Thank you for sharing and I choose joy too :)
    Natalie @ A Fit Philosophy recently posted…Papa Jim’s Light Citrus Margarita

  5. What a beautiful post! When bad things happen, it is so easy to forget that we can still choose joy. Thank you for this reminder!
    Akaleistar recently posted…Hello Book Lover

    • Thanks for the kind words. This post means so much to me. I truly love and honor Mary Ann for everything she did for me and taught me while going through cancer or any hardship for that matter. Sending hugs and positive vibes your way. xoxo

  6. What a touching tribute to your beautiful friend. Mary Ann sounds like she was a wonderful person on so many levels. Thank you for this lesson in choosing joy. This is certainly an area I struggle with, but you are so right: “we can all choose our attitudes” regardless of our circumstances :).
    Candace recently posted…How to Recover From Emotional Eating Binges

    • Thanks for the kind words, Candace. It was actually a hard one to write, believe it or not. I tried hard to do justice to the love and light of Mary Ann, while also revealing my lesson in love. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Have a great week.

  7. Boy, I did not see that one coming and I wasn’t prepared for the tears that followed. Still, I feel hopeful from the reminder to choose joy. It really is a choice, isn’t it? I hope we never forget that.
    Kudos to you for being strong and sharing your story and Mary Ann’s. I pray you will remember her with joy!
    Marva | sunSPARKLEshine recently posted…6 Ways to Boost Your Health for Exhausted Mamas

    • Thanks so much for the kind words. I do aspire to find joy as often as Mary Ann. I’ve always been outwardly positive, but sometimes it takes more courage to make it shine from the inside-out. Life gets tough for us all…and I think that finding happiness in the little things goes a long way. Have a great week. Thank you for stopping by. xoxo

  8. I’m sorry the world lost Mary Ann. We need more Mary Anns who dance, sing, and rejoice. Life is good despite the all the downs on this rollercoaster ride, it’s good. I’m truly inspired by those who can see all the beauty and joy during the toughest times, I want to soak that spirit up and spread it. Thank you for sharing Mary Ann with us. Sending you love and a big virtual hug!!!

    • Thank you so much for the kind words about Mary Ann. She truly was a special person filled with light and positive energy. Her kids really radiate her energy and will carry out her legacy. I think about her often and truly am trying to choose joy in the day-to-day rather than just with for the big things in life to appear. Sending you back a big virtual hug. xoxo

  9. What a way to put our lives into perspective. Not many have such a wonderful attitude toward the tough times in life. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story!
    Leslie recently posted…A Backyard Ready for Summer Entertaining (ORC Reveal!)

  10. I choose JOY too – and you inspire it each week! Thank you for writing this! Beautiful piece!
    Kristen recently posted…20 Things You REALLY Need on Your Baby Registry

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