Everyone wants to be happy. “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands!” “Don’t worry, be happy!” “Happy”, the song that made me unhappy after hearing it 1 million times. I have read through entire sections of Self-Improvement at several bookstores. I have been therapized for most of my adult life and been on anti depressant drugs I don’t remember the names of. Caveat: Anti-depressants can be life savers, as they were and are for me, but they do not make you happy, they bring you to a level of health and the getting happy is still up to me and you. I have ran, meditated, danced, walked and wrote and although each are wonderful they did not make me happy. I am loved and have been loved but even this does not make me happy. Alcohol and illegal drugs for sure did not make me happy and that’s not for lack of trying.
Should I give up on being happy? I never give up, but lately I have been seriously questioning how well “never giving up” has worked for me. Try and try harder, that’s how things get done, right? Getting happy must require a lot of work and attention, otherwise everybody would be happy. My favorite dead politician, Abe Lincoln, said: “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” So I just need to make up my mind to be happy—-no problem! My mind got me into this place of dissatisfaction and my mind can get me out. What about if reality sucks, how can I think differently if reality does not change. Another of my favorite fellas, Shakespeare wrote these words for Hamlet, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Seems like both Abe and Hamlet were on the same track: the mind is a horrible thing to waste if you are aiming for happiness. Turns out that choosing our thoughts and focus, and making a commitment to seeing the positives may indeed be the road to take to happiness. Is the glass half full or half empty? If we see the glass as half full we have the advantage in the pursuit of happiness.
I make observations and judgements that are true only to the extent that I believe them to be true. I can focus on gratitude or victimhood. I can use my thoughts to beat myself up or to cultivate self compassion. I never liked my Mother’s lame suggestion: “Count your blessings.” Maybe, just maybe my Mothers suggestion wasn’t so lame. If I am focused on my blessings I don’t have the mental energy to tally all my curses too. Blessings in, blessings out or curses in, curses out, my mind can be programmed either way. I do get to choose what thoughts I entertain so why not entertain thoughts that help me feel better instead of worse.
Sometimes when my focus is on the current moment I can be overcome by beauty. This morning I was laying on my sofa, crocheting and cuddling with my doggies. The sun was shining through the patio door, shadows were playing on the wall and my orchids were reaching for the sun. Now that’s a miracle—-my orchids love me and bloom several times a year and have so many blooms at a time. I am so grateful they offer their beauty to me. The birds were singing and it seemed a happy song. I was thinking about this blog post on happiness and counting my blessings. I suddenly realized that this, this moment in time, was a moment of happiness. Tears filled my eyes and I said aloud “This is happiness. I see it and feel it!” And then the joy I felt broke into a million pieces, too many blessings to count.
I was hacked! “Your password has been changed to your online banking, if you did not do this call immediately” Ping, ping, one message after the other, I watched as the money in my accounts was emptied out. I didn’t even have time to call to stop the invasion, and the
deed was done. Long story short, with the help of a very kind banker and my very kind son, although I am still currently without funds, the claim is in process and money from heaven will be arriving in the next few days. I felt violated and angry that someone was invading my privacy and I was not safe. While on hold waiting to file the claim, the banker shared pictures of his first grandchild, a little fellow with big eyes who was very alert. John, the banker, plays guitar and plays around town, so we talked stringed instruments, as in guitars and banjos. Hard to imagine, but I enjoyed our conversation and was grateful that he was on hold for an hour with the fraud department so we had time to chat. My son came over on his white horse/in his white car and saved the day by helping me change all my passwords on my iPad. I am not happy I was hacked, but I did have some enjoyable time cleaning up the mess. Go figure!
I grumble. I like that word, it’s so perfect for the action. Anyway I grumbled today when it quit snowing and blowing and I got dressed to shovel my driveway and sidewalk. I called my friend across the street and she asked who had shoveled for me! I peeked out the door and lo and behold it was clean and shoveled! I was once again struck by the kindness of others. I don’t know who did it, but I am so grateful. I hate to play the age card, but sometimes I just feel too old to do some of the physical stuff I used to do.
There are moments of grace and kindness sprinkled throughout my days, if ( a big if) I pay attention and get out of the way. To give or receive kindness requires an open mind so there is a channel for goodness. When I am totally self absorbed and obsessed I can’t offer kindness to anyone and may not recognize kindness if it hit me over the head. I know I want to be a kind person, but I also want to pick and choose who I am kind to. If I like them and they are like me, then I will be kind. There is something wrong with this line of reasoning but I resist challenging it. Kindness can build bridges between people who are very different, but building new infrastructure is much harder than crossing a bridge that is already built and in use. It’s the perceived differences between”them” and “us” that “Trump” our similarities and our desire to be kind.
Kindness is not earned, it is offered. I can choose to be kind to a person I don’t like and even offer kindness to myself when self recrimination is the activity for the day. Accepting kindness from others is not always easy for me, I want to write up an I.O.U. I am sure there is no ledger for kindness and kind acts, but I want the books to balance. Offering, allowing and accepting kindness frees you and me to be the best we can be. Pass it around.
I won’t be writing a blog post this week. I just don’t have anything interesting to say. My creativity is on a road trip and I’m just a tiny figure in the rear view mirror. Sometimes self-discipline will compel me to sweat out some bloggy type words, but even discipline is a no- show. So that leaves pretty much nothing, unless you count boredom and passiveness and I don’t really care if you do or don’t. There’s no wind to blow me “which way” so I am not a body in motion that will tend to stay in motion.
It feels kinda good to take the writing week off. Writing is highly over-rated. I have personal time I can use. It’s a “staycation” in the dead of winter. Stringing profound and life changing words together is really too much work for me. I don’t even want to answer yes or no questions, I would need to think and thinking hurts my head.
As a matter of fact a nap sounds pretty good right now. There is no amount of coffee that will rev me up enough to write a few words. I might drink my coffee and stare out the window and watch the birds. I can daydream, but I don’t want to write anything down on paper. Who does that anyway? I mean actually write on paper and not type on the keyboard. I have never taken a typing class, or I guess they call it a keyboard class now. I only type about 25 wpm so even typing wears me out. So it’s not penmanship anymore it’s keyboardmanship. These are my important and irrelevant musings. You can think about it if you want, but I have already lost interest.
A stupid movie or a stupid book? It’s a good day for stupid. I am not “like really smart” or a “stable genius” like some stupid presidents we won’t mention. I have nothing of substance to offer. Why waste your time and mine? I’m pulling the plug on my blogpost today because it’s brain dead. There is no evidence of any brain activity or imagination. Take 2 aspirin and call or text me in the morning and see if I care. I might have to get back to you later because I will be writing my blog tomorrow.
I thought I was the only one! Terminal uniqueness: My belief that no one else could understand how I felt, surely I am the only person in the world who has ever felt this way. There is an element of reverse arrogance in terminal uniqueness, i.e. I am so special because no one has had it worse than me and no one can possibly understand how I feel. If I believe I am terminally unique then I will separate myself from others and not share my feelings, this is the perfect storm for isolation. No thanks, I’ll just stay here by myself, stare at my belly button and cry.
Today I know that I am not terminally unique and my life is infinitely better because I have been a member of several peer support groups for many years. The miracle is that once I ventured out of my isolation I discovered how we are alike in our humanness . The “support” in support groups comes from this reality: your words are my words, we speak for ourselves and for each other. I have found compassion for others and myself in peer support groups
Why did I wait until my emotional pain was almost unbearable before I sought solace in a community of peers? My little dog Roscoe likes to roll over and beg me for a belly rub: vulnerability be damned! His behavior says “I trust you.” I feed him and take him for walks so I am a good, trustworthy human. Roscoe doesn’t care if I’m old, gray and fat. I however have trust issues. I’m not likely to expose my vulnerability until I can feel relatively certain that I am safe. Finding out if someone is trustworthy is risky behavior, trial and error of the heart. I stick my neck out and share my truth and I’ll be treated with respect and compassion or NOT; it’s the not that scares the shit out of me! But I persevered, kept going one tiny step at a time, and now I can share honestly with fellow members in my support groups.
It’s the shared realities and vulnerabilities that allow people to eventually trust each other. Easier said than done. Your outsides look a lot different from my outsides, but inside we can recognize a fellow soul. I am afraid, you are afraid. I am lost, you are lost. I don’t feel worthy, you don’t feel worthy. We can both laugh so hard our bellies hurt. We can love fiercely, celebrate love and grieve when a loved one leaves us. The tears that fall from your eyes are the same tears that fall from my eyes into the river that flows between us. Your smile is my smile. You bleed the same as I. We need never stand alone. Can you hear the bell tolling?
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee. By John Donne