“You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”

When Nitebirde spoke those words on “America’s Got Talent,” the nation that listened to the young cancer patient sing also heard a valuable lesson. If you weren’t watching, the 30-year-old Ohio woman whose name is Jane Martjewski earned a standing ovation from the show’s live audience and even touched the heart of snarly Simon Cowell, who bestowed a rare golden buzzer.

Nitebirde’s words resonated with so many people. All too often, we promise ourselves we’ll become happy when something good happens to us. When we get through our current challenge, we’ll be able to become happy. When we summon the courage to end a relationship, well then we’ll be happy. We tell ourselves we could be happy if only we had a nicer house, if only we met the right person, if only we had a different job, if only, if only …

Each of us has dreams about the future, and when those dreams don’t come true, we feel a sense of loss. In fact, we’re grieving the loss of something that was important to us. It may seem strange that we’re suffering grief over a thing that never really existed, but our sense of loss is real and painful.

Then we hear Nitebirde’s words again: “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.” With her disease, she doesn’t know how much time she has left, so instead of waiting for a cure or something else to bring happiness to her, she has made the decision that she will be happy today.

When we wait for things to change and concentrate on what we lack, we miss the blessings we receive each and every day. They may be as simple as a beautiful sunset, the face of a child, the excitement in the eyes of a beloved pet when we walk in the door, or the melody in a friend’s laughter.

In the busyness of a day and with our frustrations about what we lack, it’s all too easy to forget to notice the many gifts God has given us. When people tell you to count your blessings, it’s a friendly reminder about taking a moment to look around and remember how fortunate we really are. And a funny thing happens when we start paying attention to our blessings: we seem to receive even more of them.

Are you stuck in despair or frustration about broken dreams or “if only” items that are out of reach? Maybe it’s time to sit down with one of our counselors to talk about how you see your world and what you may not realize. The simple truth is only you can make you happy, but we can show you how to do that more often. Contact us today.

Brittany Gipson is Clinical Manager of Care to Change, and helps children, adolescents, and adults cope with and overcome mental health and addiction-related issues.