At times I meet people who have learned the secret to happiness. They always have a smile to share and lift your mood. The secret? Itís a choice. Itís living in the moment and savoring it as precious. This moment, this is happiness, if you choose it to be. Itís choosing love over fear.

Last Sundayís sermon reminded me that what governs our internal peace and joy should not be based on present lifeís circumstances. Life will always have some chaos and if we depended on life to be perfect, happiness would elude us forever.

So what governs your joy? For me, itís my gratitude and faith that God will always love me, no matter what! Itís the source of strength to guide me through the storms.

More often than I like to admit, I get discouraged, depressed, and forget that ďthis too shall passĒ. Anchored by my faith in my creator helps subside the anxiety, the worry, the fear, and eventually ďlet go and let GodĒ. Love is the saving grace.

Humor keeps life in perspective as well. Below is a story that a friend emailed me. Itís a story that gives me food for thought as Iím approaching yet another birthday. I aspire to age just as the character expresses in her story Ö with spunk and wisdom. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly.

As Iíve aged, Iíve become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. Iíve become my own friend. I donít chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didnít need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging. Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 &70ís, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love Ö I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old. I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things. Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebodyís beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect. I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I donít question myself anymore. Iíve even earned the right to be wrong. So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it).

Finally, Iíll leave you with one of my favorites:

ďThis is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this d ay will be gone forever; in its place is something that you have left behind . . . let it be something good.Ē Author unknown

Mary Garza Cummings is a freelance writer. To contact her, email askseniorfocus@aol.com