So you want to be happy!

FTLComm - Tisdale - Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Just look around sometime and see how many people are struggling through each day with faces that look like they are in pain, depression, or just sad old indifference. As a species we have the capacity to pretty much make what ever we choose out of our time on earth and it is unfortunate that so many people fail to find what is actually so simple and straightforward, they just aren't happy.

The older I get the easier it is to see some things, while at the same time, the more a person knows, sometimes makes even relatively simple problems extraordinarily complex. However, being happy, enjoying life, is one of the things that we of advancing years have been granted, through our experience, some insight into the basic issues and I think it might help if I shared some of these insights with you.

The secret is truly a secret, just because it is such a simple concept, most people miss it until most of their life time is behind them. That secret is that your joy in life, your appreciation of each and every single day is not something that you can get some where, it isn't something you can buy, or win in a lottery, it is within you. You can quite simply chose to be happy. Many people deliberately chose to be unhappy, always wishing for what they do not, or cannot have. Others assume that happiness is for other people and that they were not on the list when happiness was given out. The basic fact of life is that you are a thinking being and you can set about being happy, you can chose to be bored, or you can determine in your life to be constantly anxious and fill your life with gloom. I know one person, a truly wonderful individual, who for much of her life would use the phrase
"with my luck" and then infer that she had low expectations for what was about to happen, indeed with that attitude, one can be certain of being permanently disappointed.

A lot of study has gone into why some people chose to search for something, or even some element like food, drink, or drugs, that will give them some temporary happiness. It was a bit of a surprise when researchers discovered that the bottom line for those unfortunate people who have a tendency toward addictions of one kind or another, are people who never had, or who have lost sight of their roots. Who and what you are is a major determining factor in everything you do in your life. It is vital to establish early in life a sense of your ethnic and cultural heritage, it is absolutely critical that you identify yourself as a member of a family, a group, a clan, something that will help you to know what you can expect of yourself in life. This is the reason that an abused child who has been informed one way or another, that they are a bad kid, will have little choice in life but to fulfill that prophesy. So every child, every young person, everyone of us must work out a positive identity for ourselves, for your identify, is what you want to be.

Though it seems odd to think about this, it is a fact, that nothing and no one is responsible for making you unhappy. You are in charge of you and you must also convince yourself that you can not change others, that is up to each person. When it comes to family, friends and relationships, everything depends upon acceptance not modification. So many people make themselves and all those around them miserable, simply by trying to alter everyone, thinking that will make them happy. (i.e. "I would be so much happier if my husband didn't snore")

At some point in each person's life we reach a realisation that we need to have a significant other in our lives and the most peculiar thing is that most people put more effort into selecting a car than a spouse. Devote sufficient time to choosing a partner and then accept your choice once it has been made, for as years go by, both of you will change, but you will change together and grow with one another.

This may surprise you, do not attempt drastic changes in yourself without collaboration.

Our social nature, as a living being, is so fundamental, that we need to nurture this part of us, so I recommend that you make sure that every day you do things for other people without expecting to be rewarded for your efforts and you also need to set time aside every day for you and your partner, as well as time when you focus on yourself.

Just like your diet, variety is what makes life a good thing.

Deal with difficulty. Everyone has or will encounter things that will reduce their capabilities, physically, emotionally and economically. But, in all cases these apparent problems are merely challenges, not obstacles to happiness. Consider for a moment that as many as one in five men and one in four women have been victims of sexual abuse. Bad news, but not impossible. You need to be aware of your handicaps and you need to know what affects they might have on your life. Once you know what to expect it is far easier to deal with the issues.

Consider the inevitable, we all have to deal with aging, the general wear and tear on our bodies that will affect and limit our mobility, hearing, vision and sometimes our ability to reason. Each of us needs to develop coping strategies.

It might not be obvious to everyone but being rich, smartt, or physically capable, will not give anyone an edge on accepting yourself for what you are.

I am convinced that the most difficult tasks each of us face are related to reaching a decision about what we want. It is more difficult then finding a compromise to arrange for achieving goals than it is for setting them. Time after time we discover that winning the lottery will not make you happy, nor will gaining anything that is not what you ultimately want.

Work is part of life, but it must not be a means to an end. Those who work at jobs for which they lack interest and enthusiasm are labouring against themselves. You should seek employment in which you can happily say
"and they are paying me for this!"

What about getting fired or laid off? It is hardly the end of the world, but is merely another challenge to overcome. In most cases you are looking at opportunity not at an obstacle.

Just like your need for protein, fats, carbohydrates and ruffage in your diet you also need adventure, laughter, intellectual challenge, sex, peace and quiet and achievement in your day to day life.

Most importantly, do not attempt life on your own. We are social beings dependent upon friends, family and close personal relationships to aid us on our journey. Everyone can achieve more and obtain greater personal freedom when in collaboration with others. Most of us lack all of the components and it is through our partners and friends that we can compensate for those things in which we lack skill and ability.

Many have pointed out (
Abraham Maslow being one such example) that we need to look after our basic needs which include safety, achievement, spirituality and self esteem, to be happy. However, these components are not prescribed and it seems that our design has pretty much determined that we will inevitably find ways of satisfying these needs. Essentially, you do not need to conform to prescribed conventional religion to be a complete person. For many the framework and structure of being part of a church or religious community is outstanding and a crutch to enhance that portion of existence but it is no more and no less vital to a good life than the comedy channel is to laughter.

There are a lot of points that I should have covered in this piece but I had to be selective, you need to think about these concepts and already this page is far to long. But, if nothing else, remember that it is all up to you, you will, and do, determine if you will have a good day, a good time, or a good life.

Timothy W. Shire



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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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