I spent too much of my life being unhappy for no good reason. I had plenty of bad things happen to me, which I was quick to point out, and I used those things as reasons for not being happy. What a bunch of crap that was!
What I have found out at this end of my life is there are only a few things I need to do to be really happy. But there are also a lot of things I need to be aware of that keep me from being as happy as is possible.
I used to do a lot of things that got between me and happiness. First, I used to stare at the past and bemoan it. What I mean is, I would look at the various bad things that happened and feel sorry for myself. Instead of using them as learning experiences, I allowed them to take me over and rule my feelings. What I did not seem to understand was that I could not do a thing about what had happened to me. And if I did not allow the past to negatively affect me, it would not. I also used the “what if” or “if only” in looking over my past. I would say “what if I had done this” or “if only I had not done that” and generally sit on the pity pot whining. What I should have said to myself was, “You know what? What happened to you was really crappy. Now, do all in your power to see that it does not happen again and move on!”
Resentments cause people more loss of sleep and more distress than is necessary. A resentment is me drinking some poison when I think badly of someone else and waiting for them to be affected by the poison. I know, it is nuts! But that is what we do when we decide to cop a resentment. What good does it do? None! But I have also found that too my of my resentments are me seeing something in some else that I hate because it is something in me I hate. If I find myself heading towards a resentment these days I stop myself. I have far better things to do with my thinking time. Resentments are never happy things and I simply do not have the time to waste on unhappy things.
There are some other things I do to keep myself happy. I seldom take things personally even when it appears someone is launching a personal attack against me. I have found that most times those people have something else going on and I am a convenient target at that moment. At such times I remind myself that most likely the person has issues they are dealing with and I just let the whole incident go. I definitely do not get into a fight with them, and allow them to “win” if that is what they are after. It does not happen a lot that I need to defend a position.
These days I truly believe that I know it is going to be a good day simply because I woke up that day. That might sound strange, but consider the alternative. I see the beginning of every day as a chance to enjoy something. Most days I find lots of things. Animals are always a great source of pleasure. I simply watch them moving around doing whatever. The question in my mind at such times is “what are they doing?” or I simply think that what they are doing is interesting. More importantly, I have found that my energy level is generally reflected back in the animal’s actions. If I am calm, so are they.
I seldom get angry. What is the point? How many things can happen to me in a year, let alone a day, that require my anger? The key word in that sentence is “require.” I think it entirely human for anger to flare from time-to-time but it is how I deal with it that makes all the difference. It is very seldom that I truly have any need to show or voice my anger. When I feel my anger rising I am quick to ask myself if it is truly necessary. Usually the answer is no.
I find it very easy to let things go these day. Recently I have had some things stolen from me and I got angry over it. I despise theft. But after my brief visit with anger I work hard to get over it and let it go. People who would steal from me are just sick. There is nothing I can do about them. More importantly, I let go of the idea long ago that I have much control over anything after I finish controlling myself. This is particularly true of other people. I can let it be known how I feel and that I wish someone to act differently but I cannot force them to acquiesce to my desires. That means, once I have let my desires know, I let go of whatever it is that has prompted me to be vocal. That means I usually quickly forget whatever it was that bothered me in the first place. I have moved on to more important things.
When someone requests my help I usually give it to them. This is something that makes me really happy. I consider it a gift when someone desires my help considering they could request it from so many others. Even more, I expect nothing in return. And most of the time, I refuse anything in return. That mostly happens when someone offers me money. I am really happy that they simply say thank you. That makes my time given them a gift. There is an old saying, you have to give it away to get it. Whatever I give to someone I find gets returned to me many many times over.
I have also decided that loneliness is generally something that can be overcome quickly. Most of the time I know when I am going to be alone. It is at those times that I have made plans to have something to amuse myself with. Frequently that means I have a book with me.
I really believe that most home runs are hit when you are thrown a curve. It certainly is true in baseball so why not in life? When life throws me a curve, is that not a time for me to shine and show what I can do?
I think life is really mostly about what you make of it. If you are going to be angry, morose, petty, vindictive, resentful, and a host of other negative things, you are not going to be left with much time to be happy. Our negative feelings are just reminders that we need to be happy.