Posts Tagged "happiness is a choice"

There Are Things In Life We Don’t Love (And How to Deal)

Dear Kid,

Once upon a time, you had a job you didn’t love. Once upon a time, we’ve all had a job we didn’t love.

In the here and now, approximately 70% of Americans are in a job they don’t love. Or even like.

Staggering figure, isn’t it?

Forbes had an article a while back called 3 Surprising Benefits to Staying in a Job You Hate (quite a title, huh?).

It got me thinking that there are all sorts of situations we find ourselves in that might be somewhat less than ideal.

It might be a required class that is (fill in evil adjective here). It might be an event at which you’re required to make an appearance but you’d rather be hung upside down by your toenails than go. It might be a concert you’re excited to go to but when you get there it doesn’t live up to expectations and you’re stuck in the center of the row, unable to leave.

The list goes on. The point is at one time or another we all find ourselves wishing there was an easy way to escape our immediate situation.

Note: There rarely is. Because if there was an easy escape route you’d already have taken it.

The point of the Forbes article was (more or less) that you have a choice to wallow in the unpleasantness of the situation or to find a way to make your life better.

Important: I did not say to make the situation better. We can’t always do that. And presumably if there was a way to do that you’d already have done it.

A True Story

One thousand three hundred fifty-six years ago (exactly) I worked at a fast food franchise. I was in high school at the time and it was a typical part-time job. I remember one night in particular being assigned to wash dishes. Not my favorite job as the pots and pans were big and proportionally dirty. I was in the back, by myself, being miserable, explaining to myself how miserable I was, and generally multiplying the miserable-ness exponentially. Then things got busy and I was called to work the drive-thru window. This was back in the days before we were expected to be rude and so I made An Effort to be cheerful and pleasant. Within minutes I actually was cheerful and pleasant. Cue music for “I Whistle A Happy Tune.” Extra points if you get the reference.

We can’t make every situation better. But we can almost always work on our attitude about the situation.We can decide not to punish those around us with a (fill in evil adjective) attitude. We can challenge ourselves to find something good in the situation and lock onto that. We can figure out a way to turn the situation into a fun blog (see 12 Really Good Things About Winter Weather for an example).

We really are in charge of our own happiness. We really can control how we handle a less-than-wonderful situation. It’s a good lesson for all of us.

Love, Mom

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“I Whistle A Happy Tune” is from The King and I (video from a staged production included for your viewing pleasure). The relevant part of the lyrics included too.

Whenever I feel afraid
I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune
So no one will suspect
I’m afraid.

While shivering in my shoes
I strike a careless pose
And whistle a happy tune
And no one ever knows
I’m afraid.

The result of this deception
Is very strange to tell
For when I fool the people
I fear, I fool myself as well!

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August is Admit You’re Happy Month

Happy is a Choice. Be HappyDear Kid,

August is Admit You’re Happy Month.

Isn’t that a great thing? An entire month to think about being Happy. Well, at least half a month left to think about being happy.

We need a holiday to be happy? A specific month to be happy? And we have to “admit” it?

I’m a little confused.

I wonder if we have a month devoted to being confused.

I know that we can’t all be happy all the time. Despite the hit song. Despite the availability of chocolate and puppy kisses. Despite the current season of America’s Got Talent.

But maybe the idea of Admit You’re Happy Month is to remind us to revel in being happy. To remind us to practice being publicly, outwardly happy. To remind us not to hide our happy from the rest of the world.

Maybe if we spend the rest of August admitting we’re happy, we can carry that through the rest of the year.

And maybe, just maybe, when we have those times that are a little tougher, a little sadder, a little more difficult than we’d like, we can remember the happy and bring a little more balance to our lives.

Love, Mom

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Some People Are Unhappy—Their Miserableness Isn’t About You | Choose Happy

There are some people who always seem angry and continuously look for conflict.Dear Kid,

Some People Are Unhappy—Their Miserableness Isn’t About You

According to Wikipedia, Gilbert & Sullivan’s Princess Ida satirizes feminism, women’s education, and Darwinian evolution, which were controversial topics in conservative Victorian England.

According to me, Princess Ida is about smart women, cross-dressing, and cranky royalty in the form of King Gama. The best part of the operetta (imho) is when King Gama sings:

Oh, don’t the days seem lank and long
When all goes right and nothing goes wrong,
And isn’t your life extremely flat
With nothing whatever to grumble at!

(The recording for your listening enjoyment:)

This is particularly useful for singing to small children who are particularly grumpy. (Yes, it has been sung to you. If you don’t remember, that probably means either you haven’t been very grumpy lately or I’m a rotten mother for not inflicting more Gilbert & Sullivan upon you. Or possibly both.)

The POINT of all this is that I have been thinking about grumpy people today and wondering why some people seem happier when they are unhappy. There are people who seem to simply relish the misery and disappointments in life. Don’t get me wrong—I know unfortunate things happen and we can’t just ignore that. But I don’t understand the people who feel the need to inflict their misery on others. Especially when “their misery” isn’t even really theirs.

I was talking with someone earlier today–her life is just a big ol’ bag of drama. Drama with her brother’s life, one family member causing drama with another family member, drama between two neighbors, drama between two colleagues…you get the point. None of these really have anything to do with her directly; she has chosen to take on the burden of the stress. I should explain that she is not observing or commenting on the situations–she owns them. It is a habit with her. Once one drama/tragedy/problem is solved, another one always seems to pop up. There are always multiple “catastrophic”  situations in her life. And she generally shares them. At great and gory length.

It’s not obvious (at least it’s not obvious to me) why she wants to “own” all of these problems. Perhaps it makes her feel more important; perhaps it’s a control thing; perhaps she just likes wallowing in the misery of it all. What I do know is that her involvement in many of these situations is a choice. She is choosing much of the stress and choosing to respond to it in a very involved sort of way. The stress of it all causes her to frequently lash out in ways I don’t think she intends.

About a million years ago when I was in high school, I worked at Wendy’s. I remember distinctly one evening when I was asked to wash pots in the back. I was at the sink, grumpiest person on the planet, talking in my head about how miserable life was, when the restaurant got busy and I was called to work at the drive through window. Because I was talking to people, and because it was my job to be cheerful, I pretended I was happy. Funnily enough, in just a few minutes, I WAS happy.

Yes, “ick” happens. But often you can choose how you respond to it.

Hope you are choosing a happy day.

Love, Mom

Bonus: If You Give Me Your Attention (also from Princess Ida). This is the one where he sings, “Yet everybody says I’m such a disagreeable man, and I can’t think why!” It seems appropriate, so I’m including it.

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