Is Everybody Happy?Posted: July 16, 2012
I’m nearly always happy because my life is filled with blessings. A recent invitation to be on the radio, or instance. I will be on Rev. Beverly Molander’s radio show next Monday, July 23, at 10 am, Pacific Time. You can listen then or later by going to the archives. Go to http://www.unity.fm/program/AffirmativePrayer
The radio show invitation is a happy event and I am very glad that Rev. Beverly Molander asked me to talk about my life and my books. That does make me happy.
However, happiness is not dependent on exceptional events. Happiness is an attitude that can be cultivated on a daily basis. We can develop the happiness habit. All we have to do is “Change your thinking and change your life,” . The way to do that is, one day at a time.
Gratitude is a beautiful basic practice to encourage happiness. I try to start my day with gratitude and continue all day. If I slip off track, I gently remind myself and return to my blessing count.
It helps to set the intention first thing in the morning. Typically, I count my blessings before I rise, simply by opening my eyes and looking around. I start with gratitude for a good night’s sleep. Then I give thanks for my wonderful bed that raises and lowers by electricity. I may think about Ben Franklin and Thomas Edison and all the other scientists who develop such smart inventions. That’s a beginning and a gratitude count of at least five.
I certainly remember to be grateful for my dear friend who gave me the bed when her mother was finished with it. Then I notice other things. My closet door is open and full of bright clothes. My antique dressers were inherited from friends. There is a gorgeous weaving that was a gift from a favorite artist friend.
One of my favorite art pieces – a three dimensional collage of a Mexican bus scene – was done by another artistic friend. The photos of my family are on the dresser. If I count all my family members, I’ve counted about 20 things I’m grateful for – before I hit the floor.
I’ve found it is truly better to count my blessings than to grumble about my sore back or my schedule. The truth is that I live a prosperous, loving, beautiful life. When I notice the truth, I see that am surrounded by love and blessings. I also notice that I am very happy.
Happiness is a word for a feeling that we can experience in many different ways. We may not have the exact words to describe that “warm, fuzzy” feeling but we know it when we have it. The confusion is not about identifying happiness but in how to get more of it.
A lot of our happiness beliefs were formed from lessons we were taught as children and some were the wrong lessons. For example, “money doesn’t buy happiness” but it is a start. Ask anyone who is hungry if he is happy. Truth is – we need a certain level of comfort to begin the happiness journey.
How much money do we need? Probably less than most of us believe. Anything beyond basic food, shelter and clothing is enough to be happy. You don’t really need a million dollars and nearly all North Americans have basic security levels. We can be grateful.
Many intelligent people miss the boat by defining themselves as problem solvers. We are trained to look for problems and, if we are not vigilant, we will begin the day by looking around to see what needs to be done. Making a to-do list before that first cup of coffee can be depressing.
I am a worker, by nature and habit. At one time, I was also a person who thought of “earning” happiness. I used to feel as though happiness was a payoff that would arrive as soon as I finished my chores. Since I never finished the chores, it didn’t work out well for me. I now know happiness is a mood I can choose when I am ready. Happiness doesn’t “just happen”. We choose it.
It’s true that some events make us happy. Being interviewed on the radio, going on a trip, getting a raise, or having our kid admitted to Yale can trigger a happiness attack. But if you are always dependent on the next big “win” to be happy, you are defining life as a struggle. You will not find struggle the best pathway to the happiness you desire.
Those “wins” you struggled for, will quickly be replaced by more anxiety about the next goal. Achieving goals and stacking up accomplishments is great but you need to stop and breathe and let yourself appreciate the good things of life (practice an attitude of gratitude) to sustain happiness.
What makes you happy? Most people would say that their greatest times come from being with people they love. What can surpass young love? Or the feeling of your grandchild crawling into your lap? Or being with your girlfriends and laughing about life?
Begin to notice the loving people in your life. They are a gift in all times – good or not so good. Form the habit of honoring your loving connections, past and present. Don’t ever take the friends and family who love you for granted!
You may not need to be physically near your loved ones to be happily influenced by their love. The furniture I inherited is just stuff but I am deeply grateful for the friendship of the two women who were in my life for the first 25 years of my sobriety. Their friendship was satisfying at a heart level.
My bedroom is solitary but chockfull of loving memories and it makes me happy. When you know your child is living his life well, you can be happy. The memory of a happy childhood continues to operate as a pleasant experience your whole life. Everyone has gifts in his or her life that can be the basis for counting your blessings.
People are not always necessary for happiness. In many instances. I am extremely happy to be all alone pursuing my creative activities. I can get lost in writing or drawing for hours at a time. I’d also prefer to watch movies alone and certainly, reading books is a solitary pursuit of happiness.
You can be happy in different ways at different times in your life. Dancing until dawn in high heels used to make me happy. I’ve had to find new ways to achieve that glow. What worked at 20 doesn’t always work at 50 or 70.
I’m not such a fancy dancer anymore but I love old movie musicals. The love of dance and music has simply translated. Better to sing in the rain with Gene, Debbie and Donald than complain about the weather and arthritis.
Can you list ten things you are happy about?
What activity makes you happy that you can add to your day?