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.