happiness: it’s only a day away

Have you ever spent much time with someone who is a heavy sigher–a moaner and groaner, someone who is kind of a downer, actually?  Isn’t it surprising that even though you are expending little physical energy, you grow so weary and exhausted?  Eventually you just want to violently shake them–tell them to cheer up look on the bright side just get over it will you already, jeez!  And knowing that nothing you could possibly say or do will ever work just adds to the absolute dread you feel, helpless and hand-tied because you know they can only help themselves.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find myself literally crawling away on my hands and knees trying to escape the gloom.

Now I have by no means been an optimist my whole life, but somewhere along the line this little bird, brought into the world by two well-meaning but nonetheless parentally-challenged souls, has learned how to be happy.  Yes, I’ve successfully challenged an essential truth and find myself not unlike an apple flung far from the tree–one surprisingly hearty seed dropped from withered branches and set aloft in the wind.  I could easily sell my gravity-defying formula for happiness to you–write a best-selling book and lead sold-out self-help seminars you’d pay gobs of money to attend–but in the end I don’t think I would make a lot of money or win any converts.  The fact is I don’t think most people want to hear the truth in what I have to say because, while it’s very simple, it’s oh so very hard to practice.  And this is it:  Just get over it.   Put on those tap shoes and just dance, sister.

Just get over it already.  It really is that simple.  Why carry a bagful of hurt around with you every where you go?  It’s so impractical and not to mention, it doesn’t look good with anything in your closet.  Yet you insist on lugging that bag around because it’s your defining accessory; it gives you something to talk about.  You’re quick to unpack it and show all its miserable contents to anyone who will listen, and we only know you’re coming by the heaving and groaning under its weight.  We can barely see you behind all that heft, teetering and trailing life’s injustices behind you.  What a sight you are!  Can I take that for you?  Why don’t you just set that down here?  But the fact is, no one can take that bag away from you because you’ll just find a way to fill up another one.  What would you do with your hands if you didn’t have this heap of hurt to lug around?  How would your life change if you chose to let go of all the misery you cling to: the injustices and insults, the abandonment and neglect, the judgment and rejection, the anger and blame?  You know, you really can just take all those bags out to the curb and leave them there.  You can!  It’s that simple, but oh so very hard to practice because then there is no one left to blame for your unhappiness but yourself.   But if you let go of the bag and find your hands suddenly free, what happens next?  Infinite possibility!

I can’t control anything but the way I react to things.  Did I mention I was raised by wolves?  Well-meaning, genuinely kind people, but deeply flawed nonetheless.  My early years are complicated and hard to explain without laughter, but that’s the thing.  To me, they are absurd fodder, but they might have sent someone else straight to the stripper pole.  So what happened?  Malcolm Gladwell probably has some complicated theory to explain everything that went into my becoming a more hopeful, loving and optimistic person.  But for me, it’s pretty simple.  I just chose to let go of that bag.  I truly believe that my personal happiness is pretty much the only thing I can control, and since I am a such a control freak, I get down on my knees and thank God for helping me discover this.  Just get over it.  I am in total control of that.  If more people could just take it to the curb and leave it there, happiness would not be so elusive.

Patience, on the other hand, is something I have less control over, and while I am working on that daily, I still find myself frustrated to no end with unhappy people.  Debbie Downer and Bitter Bob can sure tire a girl out.  If only I could just take my unhappy friends out to the curb.  If only I could just get over their sighing and moaning all the time.  Easier said than done.  So when I came across this wisdom in my Facebook news feed yesterday (via my Positive Thoughts subscription), it made me stop and ponder just what it is that makes happiness attainable for some but not for others.  If practicing happiness is also difficult for you, consider some of the article’s great advice below.  It might help you become a happier, more hopeful and peaceful person, and the added bonus is that it will help me with my patience problem, too!

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Today is a new day – a new beginning.  You have been given this day to use as you please.  You can waste it or you can use it for something worthwhile.  Either way, what you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.

When tomorrow comes, today will be gone forever.  In its place will be something that you have left behind.  Please, let it be something worthwhile.  Let it be something that spreads love and happiness.

Here’s how:

  1. Be kinder than necessary. – You will never fully understand some things until these things actually happen to you.  So be kinder than necessary , for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of unique battle.  And remember, you will come across some people in life who always seem to create conflicts.  When you meet them, smile and walk away.  The battle they are fighting isn’t with you, it’s within them.  Here’s how:
    1. Be kinder than necessary. – You will never fully understand some things until these things actually happen to you.  So be kinder than necessary , for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of unique battle.  And remember, you will come across some people in life who always seem to create conflicts.  When you meet them, smile and walk away.  The battle they are fighting isn’t with you, it’s within them.
    2. Put sincere effort into your relationships. – Don’t confuse the people who are always lingering around with the ones who are truly there.  Good relationships don’t just happen, and they aren’t built solely on a foundation of convenience.  They take time, patience, effort, and two people who want to be together and are willing to meet in the middle.
    3. Remind your loved ones that you love them every chance you get. – It doesn’t always matter where you go, what you do, or how much you have.  Sometimes all that matters is who you have beside you.  So be grateful for the wonderful people in your life, and let them know how much they mean to you on a regular basis.
    4. Stretch yourself, and make yourself proud. – You can’t grow unless you do.  Yes, as you stretch you will feel some discomfort.  You will have to deal with the pain of the unknown as you work new emotional and intellectual muscle groups.  But don’t let that stop you.  Far too many people are fearful of the unknown, comfy with putting in the least amount of effort, and not willing to put up with short-term pain for long-term gain.  But not you – you know better.  Stretch yourself, be all you can be and  seize your true potential.
    5. Let your tears nourish your healing. – If tears could talk, this is what they’d say:  I am the raindrop that nourishes your healing.  Open your door to me in times of angst.  I will not stay forever.  Only long enough to clear the path of debris so hope and joy can reach you.  Only long enough to cleanse your eyes so your vision will be clear enough to recognize goodness when it comes.
    6. Don’t wait for a reason to be grateful. – Just be grateful for everything you have now, and the reasons will quickly find you.  Being happy doesn’t always make us grateful, but being grateful will always make us happy.  And if you’re finding it hard to be grateful for something, sit down, close your eyes and take a long slow breath, and be grateful for oxygen.  Every breath you take is in sync with someone’s last.
    7. Express your appreciation daily. – Before going to bed tonight, take a moment to appreciate yourself for three things you accomplished today.  If you are in a relationship, take moment to openly discuss and appreciate three things you each accomplished today.  What we focus on expands.  What we appreciate, appreciates in value.
    8. Say less when less means more. – You are as beautiful as the love you give, and you are as wise as the silence you leave behind.
    9. Rediscover your inner child. – If you’ve forgotten the feel of joy, and don’t remember when you last felt wonder, let a child lead you back to the days when rocks breathed, and leaves sailed, and happiness was watching water dance through your hands.  Back to a time when you knew that every treasure worth having could be unearthed in your own back yard.
    10. Be good to yourself. – Look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I love you, and from now on I’m going to act like it.”  It’s important to be nice to others, but it’s even more important to be nice to yourself.  When you act as your own best friend, you allow yourself to be happy.  When you are happy, you become a better friend, a better family member, and you inspire others to be happier too.
    11. Stop waiting for the perfect moment. – Take each moment, appreciate it and make it perfect.  If you want to get really good at something or get somewhere new, let go of the notion of perfection and replace it with the notion of endless, playful exploration.  And don’t be afraid of change; oftentimes we will shed something good, and gain something even better.
    12. Inject a little goodness into the world whenever you can. – When you become overwhelmed because it seems the whole world is exploding with hatred, violence, ignorance, and apathy, you have two choices:  You can either bury your head in the sand, or you can rest your cheek upon it, breathe until you feel whole again, then lift your head and ask, “How can I add some goodness?”

    And remember, although every story has an end, in life every ending is just a new beginning.  Life goes on – not always the way we had envisioned it would be, but always the way it’s supposed to be.  We usually can’t choose the music life plays for us, but we can choose how we dance to it.

    By Marc and Angel Hack Life.

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