“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” Jim Rohn
How does happiness happen? Could a person have found any happiness in a concentration camp? Would being in the camp doom that person to never smiling, having a pleasant thought, or feeling a happiness in their heart? I have never been in a concentration camp, so I cannot suppose to claim that I would know the answer to that question. But I have faced sadness, broken heart, broken dreams, disappointment, and terrible grief on many occasions. I have been on my hands and knees sobbing into the carpet as my heart broke.
I would not say that during the time that I was crying that I was happy. In fact I would have resented someone suggesting at that time that I should be. But over the course of what ever it was that I was surviving, I think finding happiness was a tool for survival. Happiness isn’t necessarily an activity, it may be a mindset. It is both.
Happiness is also something that I am responsible for myself. Other people may make me laugh, they may ask me to a party or to something that I would enjoy…but I could go to those places and still be very unhappy.
I have a friend who tells me of her friend who is constantly upset with her husband because he does not make her happy. In turn, he runs around trying to make her happy. A person can spend a lot of time and money doing that. The truth is, I believe, we are all responsible for our own happiness.
So how do we do that? Where is the button to make us happy? There is no button. Wish there was.
Perspective is one way. The way we see the situation. If I believe I have it worse than anyone else-I sit around and lick my wounds and confirm to myself over and over how bad my situation is. If I get out of myself, look around me, I see things could be worse. Others are hurting too. Maybe they need help too. If I think that I didn’t deserve this to happen to me…than what? Someone else deserved it? Am I better than them? We live in a world that things happen. They happen to everyone-cancer/dementia/disability/loneliness/sorrow…the whole list..is no respecter of persons. They hit anyone; anytime. Admitting to myself that I am sad or disappointed or wish that it had not happened is okay and healthy. Thinking I have it worse than anyone else is “stinkin thinkin”. And it will poison me.
Activity is one way. Get myself out of the house. Go out where other people are. Their energy might infuse me. I might see something that helps my perspective. Perhaps there is a person in my life that always encourages me. I am very fortunate to have sisters who are very close to each other. They are more than sisters, they are friends. One of them is my identical twin-couldn’t be much closer than that. We know when the other person needs someone even before they call or come by. All it takes is one friend. It might even be a pet. I have talked to JJ my little silky terrier on many occasions and he is a good listener. For some, it may be God. Getting out -seeing people-sharing with someone ..they are all activities that help me find some happiness even in a bad time.
Pleasure Journal is another way. During some of my saddest times, I kept a pretty wordless book with me. It reminded me to look for something that made me smile or made me feel good and I wrote it down. I tried to write something every day. Sometimes they were pretty simple: I heard a little child giggle in the grocery store today and it made me smile-I saw the first daffodil and it brought me pleasure-I stood outside and felt the breeze and it felt like it was gently blowing the sadness off of me….
Laughter is a great way. I may not feel like laughing, but once I do, it is like medicine. No one may be around to make me laugh. Fortunately I had a TV, and I watched a lot of sit coms. They made me laugh. Watching children in the park can make me laugh.
All the above are active things. they are things one has to get up and do. That is why I like the quote above…it is something you design… You have to know yourself and then be true to yourself. What brings you pleasure. There have been times in my life I just could not answer that, hence the pleasure journal that made me focus on that question. Over time I learned that a nice hot bath brought me pleasure, listening to music lifted my spirits, and making thought lists of what is good in my life would help change my perspective.
Events happen in life. Sadness occurs. I heard a saying a long time ago, ‘you can become bitter, or you can become better-it is the “i” that makes the difference’. I have gone back to that many times. I can’t control what happens to me but I can control how I respond to it. Stinkin thinkin will make me bitter and resentful. Processing the sad event, getting out of myself, reminding myself of the blessings around me..are all proactive things that I can do that will return/or create happiness for me.
It is an activity, and it is a mindset. The choice is mine.