The Magical Mystery Tour is wrapping up another segment. Due to my medical hiccup last year we didn’t go anywhere. Kathy of course has accepted this as a challenge for this winter and it is almost like the bags are never unpacked. Considering the fact Denver is knee deep in snow I think I like her style. We are spending our children’s inheritance.
As I sit looking out over the water I do wonder if I was meant to be a beach bum for the rest of my life. This thing called happiness comes to mind and you contemplate on what it really is. I went to the net for guidance and as one might imagine there are anywhere from 6 to 100 rules to define happiness. I will try to distill them down to a manageable few.
When I started my topic sheet for the week it was going to be “Compared to What?” For most of us we define our lives by comparing it to someone else’s. At the beach, am I shorter, taller, fatter, thinner, tanner or as in shape as this guy or that? Walking down the shore you see this or that mansion. You wonder who the hell can afford a pad worth $7 or 8 million that they only go to two or three times a year? Maybe they need a house sitter? I think we will send Kathy instead of me with that proposal.
This brought me to the concept of positive psychology as espoused by a very cool doc by the name of Martin Seligman. We are not going to delve deeply into your toilet habits as a kid to figure out why you are unhappy. We are just going to change your way of thinking. Sounds simple and some ways it is. We are defined as a person by 50% genes and about 10% environment. That leaves you with 40% you can work on. It defines the concept of working with the hand you are dealt. You are defined by you.
That is the first and foremost premise. Love yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. This is not an egotistical, narcissistic brand. It is being honest with yourself and realistic in your expectations. You can dream big and you should but don’t make it so absurd you will never realize your goals. I am not going to shoot 65, dunk a basketball or have a billon dollars. But I can work out, work on my golf game and try to manage my resources in a meaningful way. You are in a word honest with yourself.
If you are authentic then should not feel uncomfortable with letting others in. Happy people are social and outgoing and at the same time genuine. They don’t hold back. They smile like they mean it and it comes from the soul. They have an ability to get below the surface of you and life. They don’t wear their heart on their sleeve but are not afraid to bare their innermost feelings. They will expect the same of you. They will listen and respect what you have to say rather than jumping on you for your beliefs or background.
They surround themselves with positive people. How many times do you get sucked into a conversation with a bunch of grumpy old men or women? The conversation turns to politics, religion or the economy. You can feel the temperature rising and the venom gets more unbridled. Let’s really get things cooking with Obama, Hilary, Cruz, abortion, Muslims, Jews and throw in your favorite sports team for good measure. People love to sing from the same hymnal and everyone storms out the door feeling much better for having vented their spleen. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Huh? To what end?
Happy people listen. They don’t fight for the conversation to show their brilliance but want to learn from you. Let me sit down and consider an alternate point of view. Your problems or accomplishments do not have to take center stage. I really blew this one earlier this week. A friend was going through a tough time and I couldn’t wait to tell him about my latest insights into that end of life thing. What a jerk I was. But on another note here I am admitting it. I screwed up and as friends I hope he will forgive me.
Ah, but the unhappy people want to take on that grudge forever. It gets deep in their gut and they will never let you up for air. Somehow bile is not in that recipe for happiness. Resilience is such a part of life. Live in the now not yesterday. I have often said I can’t take back what I said five seconds ago regardless of how I might try. Move on mes amis.
Most of all you have to work at it. I took a variety of tests at authentichappiness.org. Go ahead, try them. They are free and no one will ever know the results. It puts you somewhere on a chart of others your age and lot in life. I found that I need work on a lot of things which is fine. I consider myself a pretty happy guy but there is plenty of room for improvement.
Doc Seligman says there are three types of happiness. One is purely pleasurable. That ice cream, fast car or big house. Feels fantastic..at least for the moment. Then there is an enjoyment that comes from being engaged in life. You are working hard, winning small victories every day, taking pleasure in simple things and this is usually more than enough for all of us. Lastly there is the joy of fulfillment. You really get that you are doing what you are put on this earth for. You are using your talents to the best of your ability and maybe just making this world a little better place to live.
All of this is highly subjective. We are all so incredibly different. You don’t see the same hues that I do and we hear a musical note oh so differently. We can make generalizations but must realize the answer lies within and for us alone. La La land is good for the soul. It doesn’t have to be at the beach. It can be in a set of headphones at your home or office or just a walk in the park I hope you will join me in trying harder. It should be fun.
Ted The Great
Happiness..noun “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.” As good as any.
“If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap.’
If you want happiness for a day — go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.”
Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.
When I was in grade school, they told me to write down what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I wrote down happy.
They told me I didn’t understand the assignment,
I told them they didn’t understand life…Unknown
“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.”
Herm Albright (1876 – 1944)
Some of you might think this is all a bunch of crap. That is your prerogative I feel for you because you have never experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows. You have never understood the euphoria of success and the nobility of defeat. You have never smiled and seen a face light up. Ted The Great