Day 22 of Your Year to Wellness
|Happy Then and Now|
I grew up poor lacking the basic necessities of life. We couldn’t even see the avenue for improvement, but my mother did not allow moping or bad attitudes. “If you ain’t happy, you better slap your ass and get happy,” she’d say. Of course I had no idea what she meant. How could I slap my behind and make myself happy. Then one day it hit me, she was saying that she would do it for me but she could'nt, so make yourself happy.
Research in the area of subjective well-being, or happiness found that people who report that they are happy have several things in common; *they are grateful, *they have self-control, *good relationships, *respectable jobs (they find honor in the work they do and are honored by it,) *they feel that they have enough and *they have a world view or belief system that helps shape their lives. While “slap your ass and get happy” was not on the list exactly, I saw that it was there in essence; people who are happy make it happen.
We may have no choice in some of the things that have been done to us, but we do have a choice in how we respond.
I often encounter grown people who still throw tantrums. If they had the mobility to get on the floor to kick their legs while rolling around, they would. These people feel helpless because “someone made them mad.” No one can make you mad, you choose to act out. Telling them this of course creates another kind of tantrum, the poor pitiful me tantrum.
If we are to be happy, we must choose to control ourselves and the way we respond to life. Because I grew up in a great deal of conflict and confusion I find that I often walk away from relationships with people who as the folks say, like drama.
An old boyfriend once accused me of being dramatic when I suggested we talk about a disagreement we’d had. He was gritting his teeth and declaring that I must not be a happy person because I liked drama. He paced back and forth and was almost foaming at the mouth saying “Just look at yourself.” I stood there, one tear rolling down my face watching this sad performance while mentally listing the ways I could break up with him without being hurtful because he was a good person and then it came to me taht people who are not happy really have a hard time being with people who are. It shines a light on their lack of joy so they often seek ways to destroy the peace and if you are not mindful, this contagious disease of unhappiness will affect you too.
Those who are truly happy have a responsibility to the world and it is simply this; shine your light. We can’t make anyone else happy, we can only be happy and allow others to get there for themselves.
· There is no happiness switch. You can’t just slap your ass and get happy. You either see yourself that way or you don’t. But if people who are grateful tend to be happy, be grateful. The more appreciative you are for the life you have, the better it will become.
· Happy people attract happy people, and misery likes miserable company. When people are down, they want others to share and agree with their assessment of life. They need to be reified in their belief that the sky is falling. When you are joyous and in the midst of those who are not, you will appear to be unrealistic. You will be told that your joy won’t last and that if you truly looked at yourself you will see that you are not happy. No one can define your world but you. Choose to be happy.
· Happiness is a choice. When I see despair, I choose to pray, meditate and be hopeful, then I take a practical look at what I can do to help. This is a realistic approach to problems in the world. When the problems are closer to home and I am faced with a bill, an illness or a concern for one of my children, I choose to be hopeful. My mother had another saying, “Tomorrow is another day, things might be better then.” How you see the world is formed by you and continuously developed. Choose to fill your life and your mind with ideas, information, people and work that reflects your desire to be happy.
· Check your beliefs. We develop our beliefs early in life, they should develop as we grow, but too often we accept them as truth; never seeking to determine if they hold up to as truth and reflect what we desire. When I ‘m at a dinner party with people whom I don’t know and I see that most of them are as uncomfortable as I am, I often ask this question; What did you think was true but later found out was not? I’ve been rewarded with wonderful and hilarious answers; a librarian who thought that popcorn was always popcorn, an engineer who believed that cows really could be tipped and a nurse thought that black women could grow long hair overnight. (Don’t even get me started.)
We all have ideas that need to be adjusted, most of them are harmless but when they affect the way we feel, live and interact, we need to do an overhaul.
· Love what you do. You can’t get the job you want until you love the job you have. Work is honorable and fulfills our basic need to create and the neccesity to have an impact on something outside of ourselves. When we despise the very way we “make a living” we will begin to detest our own life. Find something about your job that you enjoy and be grateful. When you do, don’t stop. When something about my work annoys me, I reflect back to the joy I felt when I first got the contract. Remember back to the day that you found out that you got the job. Reflect on the hope you had for making a difference and the way you felt about the newness of it all (this can work for a relationships too.) Don’t wait until you lose your job to appreciate it; do it now.
You can’t slap your ass and get glad, but you can remind yourself of all you have, those who love you, that work is honorable and that you believe that your life is in your hands.
My mother had another saying; “Just keep on keeping on.”
Be you, Be well, BE happy
Bertice Berry, PhD.