Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Real Joy

Real Joy

I think that the state of happiness can be fleeting, if we allow it to be. However, I plan on doing everything that I can to sustain my joy, not false joy that I find in novelties, but real joy. So what is real joy? Where do I find it and how do I keep that feeling once I do find it.
I guess that every person on earth has a vision of what happiness would look like for them. There is one thing that I do know with absolute certainty - happiness is a choice.
I have met some truly miserable people in my life. People who have a wonderful family, a nice house, nice car and good health. Yet these people are miserable. Why? They have made a choice to be miserable - that's why.
I am not saying that people should never be in a bad mood - everyone has their days. I am saying that the vast majority of the time, there are too many things to be happy about. Come on people, life is way to short to hate your job, your house, your neighbor, your cat, the news, your piece of sh!@ car! Quit being a complainer and start being a celebrator!
After much research on the subject (about half of my life actually), there are some things that seem to be consistent in the books I've read and people I've talked to. I have listed them below.
Find out what you like to do.What is it that you enjoy, what is it that you love? Focus on these things for a while. DO them, don't just plan to do them. Actually make a list of things that make you happy, that make you feel alive. Don't worry if they aren't productive or won't help you reach your list of goals. Let the things that bring you joy lead you to more joy. Even if people think it weird, or stupid, or a waste of time. Who cares? They are not you! Stop living your life for others and start living the life you want to live.

Don't wait for something to happen to feel happy. I hear this a lot - "When I get my own house, then I will be happy," When I get promoted, then I will be happy," When we get married, then I will be happy," and so on. I can promise you one thing if you live in this mentality, you will always be waiting. Why would you do this to yourself? You know how you keep yourself busy at the Dr.'s office with a really good book, or knitting or something else you enjoy? Yeah, well keep yourself busy being happy waiting for things to happen that will bring you even more joy.
If it isn't fun - find a way to make it fun. I am the crazy lady with headphones on while I wash the dishes singing loudly out the window for all my neighbors to hear. Ask them, they'll tell you how not so great my singing voice is. However, I enjoy singing and dishes are something that I don't enjoy, so I made them more fun until I get a housekeeper to do them for me. Let's face it, there are things that you will need to do, throughout your life. I always kid around with friends that I hate to pee when I am in the middle of something fun, like painting. I will literally hold it until I do the pee pee dance and then run to the bathroom. It just seems to be such a waste of time to me. Anyway, I have left my idea journal in the bathroom so that I can read over one of my past brilliant ideas and maybe feel inspired to act on one. Sound stupid? Well maybe it is, but I want to live every moment as happy as I can be.
I need to emphasize right now that I do not mean just pretending to be happy, I mean real happiness. This brings me to the next thing that you can try - be grateful. What is in your life that you are happy with. If you can't think of one single thing, then ask yourself, "If I could be thankful for one thing in my life, then what would it be?" This will get the ball rolling, do this everyday. Write it down if you want. I have a journal that is completely full of things that I am grateful for. The reason that this works is it puts your focus more where it should be, on the things that matter in your life. It helps you to make these things even better, and who knows where this will lead you.
Be present. I have a really hard time with this one. I am usually somewhere in the future, either tonight making dinner, or three years from now relaxing by a pool in my enormous yard that I don't have yet. Be here, notice the wonder and beauty around you. It doesn't have to be something big. Even tiny things are beautiful if you take the time to notice them. Personally, I love the way that light effects things, bright sunlight, blue moonlight, it doesn't matter, I think it's lovely. Take that extra second and notice the miracle of life around you. It is not "just a tree." It's a tree that was once a tiny seed and now stands as tall as a three story building, and whose root system extends beneath the earth as far down as the tree is tall. Isn't that AMAZING! It is, and there are other amazing things around you to, just notice them. How about your children who love you with such intensity that they cry when you go away even if it's only for an hour, or your husband who wants to please you so badly that he was willing to give up his T.V. spot just so you could be comfortable? These are personal examples, but they are also personal miracles, these are the beautiful things in my life, what are the beautiful things in yours. NOTICE.
Tell the people that you love how you feel. You only have so many opportunities in your life time to do this. Tell them now, don't wait for a birthday or Christmas. Today is special because they are with you. You don't have to just say "I love you," all the time. That's wonderful too, but tell them in other ways. Let them know they've done something that made you happy, "That was great, you are such a sweet person." Smile at them, for God's sake, even if you're having a bad day. Maybe they're having a great day, who are you to ruin that? Be kind to the people that you love, show them the same courtesies that you would a stranger.
Think beyond yourself, give back to people and animals - and plants for that matter. You don't have to set aside ten hours of your week to volunteer at a nursing home - than don't! But thing outside yourself. Let the person with one item go ahead of you in line when your cart is so full that stuff is falling out. Smile at people and say thank you, listen when people when they are talking to you, and take the two minutes to answer a question thoughtfully. This should be the same for animals too. After studying different species of animals Darwin said that they are our intellectual equals, they just don't communicate the same way. He also believed that they had a wide range of emotions that they experience on a daily basis. I believe this, and I know it is true when I look at my dog. There is no reason to be cruel or indifferent, you have the time to be kind.
Don't forget to take time out for you, to give back to yourself too. You are as important than any King or President ever was, treat yourself nicely. Give yourself a gift and stop putting yourself down. Make yourself feel good. It is your responsibility to do this, no one else can do it for you. Stop blaming others or expecting others to bring you joy. Create your own.
That's it, that's my wisdom for the day. I don't know if it right, but it feels right so I do it.

1 comment:

Audrey said...

I try to live everyday as a happy person. There are people in my life that don't look at it quite the same and sometimes it's hard not to get down right along with them. But I feel that if you are always looking at the dark side of life - you miss lots of bright moments.