Happiness Articles

Smile Through The Tears – Or Not

Monday, December 24th, 2012

People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be. ― Abraham Lincoln

There are two ways to read this quote.

Lincoln might be telling us to “accentuate the positive.” That managing our emotions and deciding to be happy will make us feel happy. In which case,  this quote is kind of ironic, given that poor Abe struggled with depression. Seems like there’s a little self-loathing mixed into the words.


You’re An Earworm Away From Happiness

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Don’t get trouble in your mind.

“Don’t get trouble in your mind” is the cheery refrain of a bluegrass chestnut, performed in the video below by the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

I’d never heard the song until a friend posted this video on Facebook the other day, and it just hit me in a sweet spot. Since then, it’s been an earworm.

But unlike most earworms, this one could prove useful.


The Stress Of Possessions

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. – Epictetus

I bought a new car yesterday.

This is a BFD because I drive my cars until they crumble around me.

I’ve been driving a 1994 Accord since 1997.
(Those babies go forever.) By the end of our relationship, the bumper was held on with tape and it was in the throes of a two-year death rattle. Most of my friends had experienced some sort of breakdown adventure with me.

But I drove my jalopy with pride. It was my badge of anti-consumerism. (Plus, no car payment. I loved that.)

OK, I was a little embarrassed valet parking it at the Ritz-Carlton the other day, where I went for a business lunch, but at least when they brought it to me, the side with the taped-on bumper was facing away from the crowd.

But otherwise, I don’t need no fancypants car.

I’m not a particularly high-wants person when it comes to possessions. I’m greedy about experiences, but ho-hum about stuff.


To Tell (Yourself) The Truth

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

The truth will set you free. – John 8:32

I’m not one to quote chapter and verse often (ever), but this tidbit is too wise to ignore.

I am taking it entirely out of context here so if you want to tell me where it fits into Scripture, please feel free.

But aside from all that—yes, yes, yes.

And I’m not talking about that tangled web we weave when we lie to other people. That’s a whole other mess. I’m talking about the lies we tell ourselves—the most powerful, potent, and difficult to address lies.

Lies like, “I’m happy.”

Or, “I have a great job that I love.”

Or, “If I had a different relationship, I would be happy.”

Or, “If I do things this way, I can keep everyone happy.”

Or, “I’m OK as long as you’re OK.”

Lies, lies, lies.


Regrets You Regret and Regrets You Don’t

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

I would rather regret the things I have done than the things I haven’t. –Lucille Ball

I’m taking the Internet’s word that Lucille Ball said this, although surely someone must have said it before her. I did find a similar (typically verbose) quote from Henry James: “I don’t regret a single ‘excess’ of my responsive youth—I only regret, in my chilled age, certain occasions and possibilities I didn’t embrace.”

When I last wrote about regret, the shorter sentiment was mentioned by several readers as a favorite quote to live by. I see the appeal. It’s so…active. So devil may care. So make it happen and caution to the wind.


Don’t Fight The Feelings (Even When They Hurt)

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Feel the fear and do it anyway. — Susan J. Jeffers

This is the title of a self-help classic I read in 1987, when it first came out. I don’t remember much about the book, but the title stuck with me because it’s such a useful concept.

Now I’m reading a helpful book called The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion by Christopher G. Germer that, at least what I’ve read so far, puts a yoga-esque, Buddhist-ish, new millennium-like spin on a similar concept.

The gist of both books is to feel what you feel. You can’t run or hide from emotions and so you might as well just have them. Accept them. Let them course through your body. And don’t hate them. Emotions aren’t bad or good. They just are. They might be comfortable and uncomfortable, but being uncomfortable never killed anyone.


How Pessimists Count Their Blessings

Friday, October 26th, 2012

At least I’m not internally decapitated.

Thanks to my husband for this one.

I remember exactly the context in which we first heard the term “internally decapitated,” but out of respect, I will leave that out of this discussion. I don’t mean to be flip.

But wouldn’t you agree that internal decapitation sounds like a huge, gigantic, monumental bummer? I mean—you’re alive, yes. And that’s good. Your story isn’t over, as it would be with external decapitation.

But still…

Internal decapitation.

Yikes.

Makes a regular crappy day sound like happyfacerainbowsallthetime, don’t it?


Stop Moping And Join The Party

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Life is a cabaret.—Fred Ebb

Hey, sad sack!

Yeah, you.

You know something? You’re kinda getting on my nerves.

This whole Eeyore thing? No fun at all.

Do you even know how to have fun? Do you know what brings you joy? Or are you going to trudge through life like it’s a chore?

Stop it.

Life is a cabaret, my friend. A goddam cabaret. So come on. Hurry up. Join the fun.

Oh, I’m sympathetic to depression, tragedy, and hard times. I’ve wrestled with all those things.  But the key word is “wrestled.” I fight back. I fight back hard. And fighting back includes finding joy. Finding it. Not waiting for it.

I’m on a solo road trip this week. Yesterday I was in Nebraska. That’s right. Nebraska. And it was a friggin’ cabaret.


Intimacy Is Good, But What Is Intimacy?

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

The opposite of loneliness is not togetherness, it’s intimacy ― Richard Bach

I’ve never read Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and probably even mocked it back in the day, when it came out. It just sounded so silly. But here is a very wise quote from its author. Of course. Doesn’t everyone know the feeling of being lonely in a crowd? (Does everyone? Or is this more of an introvert thing?) You needn’t be alone to be lonely.

Intimacy is the opposite of loneliness, I get that. But that takes me only halfway to enlightenment. The trouble is, I can’t put my finger on what intimacy is. It’s one of those words that I understand on a cellular level, but struggle to define.


Would You Rather Be a Meteor or a Planet?

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time. — Jack London

This quote is a little wordy to be pithy, but it popped up on my Facebook feed today (via You Gotta Believe) and hit me in just the right spot. Which is not to say it hit and felt good. Actually, it kinda hurt.

I’m no Jack London, but this is exactly how I feel. I want to live a brilliant blaze. Complacency terrifies me. I want my life to be a thrill ride of some kind. I hate real roller coasters but love the roller coaster of life. Even when things are horrible, at least it feels like living to me. When everything settles into routine, I am restless and unhappy. I feel deadened, bored, suffocated.

In the abstract, this doesn’t sound terrible, does it? I mean, don’t we all want to live life to the fullest? Carpe diem, mi vida loca and all that?

The problem is, this philosophy of life requires churn. It means that the minute things get comfortable, you want them to be uncomfortable. Except that comfort is uncomfortable, so what do you do then?

I should have outgrown this already. I’m old, and should settle down into my cozy, curmudgeonly dotage. But I chafe in comfort. Rage against the machine. Fidget for whatever comes next. This can be hard on people around me, who don’t understand why I can’t just sit still and be.

I can’t.

Is the superb meteor really better than the permanent planet? Meteors can be awfully destructive, and a lot of planets (well, at least one that we know of) support life.

Do we even have a choice in such things? Or are planets …


 

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