Are you a happy person? If you were asked that question how would you respond? Do you need to break your life down into sections then weed out the areas that leave you feeling flat and pull forward the ones you feel are the closest to being happy?
I’ve been thinking about happiness quite a bit lately – what makes me happy or rather, more to the point, I’ve been wondering why it is I feel a genuine inner happiness now even though I’m living with the daily challenges of ALS along with the quiet fear my breast cancer will return; however, there have been so many phases in my life when I felt really low, unhappy, and yet I was a healthy active person leading a full life. What’s up with that?
Well, that’s what I’ve been wanting to figure out. It has become clear, at least to me, that happiness isn’t really a by-product of a specific life situation or circumstance. Though I must admit that I did have a tendency to link aspects of my happiness to the tangible things in life – the things beyond myself. But I’ve since learned the tangibles of life are really nothing more than what I call ‘life-fillers’. Those things are nice and, yes, I absolutely admit to feeling an initial joy and/or excitement when finding that perfect pair of shoes or making plans to redecorate a room – but it is just that … the enjoyment of an isolated something that has zippo to do with my feeling genuinely happy. Because that, I have since discovered, comes from within myself.
It isn’t that I am always giddily happy with a goofy smile on my face … hmm, well, uh, actually, come to think of it, when it comes to the smile I do hear frequent comments about always having one on my face – but they’ve never said it was goofy … at least not to my face. The point is I’m not in some perpetual happy state of mind. There are days it takes a lot of effort to control my thoughts – to keep my mind from wallowing in negative thinking. Of course, I’m certainly not trying to imply I can always control my thoughts – I can’t and I don’t.
It’s the pattern of thinking I’m referring to here – the way I approach each day and what my mindset is regarding everything going on in my life as well as those who are a part of my life. I no longer allow myself to mull over things that I have no control over or I can’t change… and again that pertains to everything going on in my life as well as those who are a part of my life.
Learning to let go of thoughts pertaining to things I have no control over or can’t change was quite a challenge … a true inner struggle … until a conversation with Gene. Ah, my dear hubby Gene. He has a way of helping me to look at myself to see traits I may be overlooking, well, or ignoring. That’s when I learned that perhaps what I needed was to work on humility. Huh? It was in that split second when all sorts of thoughts surged through my mind – and no, none were anywhere near being positive – that I knew he was on to something. Oh, okay, he was right.
I had never equated my tendency to mentally hash over unchangeable/uncontrollable issues with a lack of humility and/or modesty. And yet, really, those are the very qualities needed any time a matter is out of our hands or none of our business. Knowing our limitations, shortcomings, and weaknesses can help circumvent any tendency to “take on life” alone – as though we are the only one capable of doing everything. It is then we can let go of whatever issues or people problems that are weighing down our thoughts and leaving us feeling unhappy with ourselves, our family, friends or life.
It isn’t that I don’t think about problems or ignore those of my family or friends. I don’t, uh, I mean I do, but I’ve also learned that in most cases the only thing I can change is my attitude – and that is accomplished only when I change my thinking. You see, we always come back to our thoughts … making a link to what we think and how we feel about ourselves, our family, friends … our life.
So, if you want to be happy just close your eyes, click your heels 3 times, and say “I think I am, I think I am …. if you end up in Kansas, well, you’re on your own.