Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tricking Ourselves Into Happiness

Sometimes I try to trick myself into happiness. I know the benefits of sporting a positive mentality – better health, increased longevity, fewer wrinkles. However, sometimes the internal crab inside pokes out its nasty little head and tries to claw its way into your life and pinch off a bit of your joy. Ouch!

I have a few tricks of my own to keep negativity at bay.
• Avoid crabs. No, not the kind you dip in lemon butter, I’m talking about the two legged variety that suck the joy out of life. You may be tempted to commiserate with another unhappy soul, but this is not going to help your situation.
• Seek out optimistic allies. If you are in a sinking ship you don’t want to hold hands with someone else who is drowning, reach out to someone who can pull you up. If they offer advice, shut up and listen. You can determine later whether their suggestions are good or not, but being open to optimistic change means you are going to have to look and act a bit differently to get out of your funk.
• Exercise. Bless those little endorphins Think of them as natural uppers. Yes, it’s a pain, yes it’s easier to sit on the couch, but that is not going to help things improve. Once you force yourself to do something as simple as taking a brisk walk you will find you not only feel better, but chances are you will find a spark to ignite some positivity into your life.
• Have an outing with a child. The kid can be your own, a grandchild or another family member’s little one. Pick some place fun like a zoo, amusement park or a short hike. Being in the presence of a little one can help you recapture the everyday magic in life such as dew drops on a leaf, a fluttering butterfly, tiny flowers or an interesting insect.

• Volunteer. Whether it’s ladling soup at a homeless shelter, reading to an elderly person, becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister or simply doing a few favors for someone in need, volunteering helps both you and the person you are helping.
Struggles are an important part of life, without them we become weak, lazy and are unable to achieve our highest potential. A perfect example of the importance of enduring and overcoming struggles as a path to happiness is found in the butterfly. While in its cocoon, the butterfly continually flails its tiny wings against its shell in an attempt to break free. Over and over the tiny creature beats its wings until it cracks open its shell, emerges and finally takes flight. However, if it weren’t for the constant beating of its wings while trapped in its former home, the butterfly would not develop the strength it needs to fly. Indeed, it would fall out of its shell exhausted, lay on the ground panting, soon to be consumed by the nearest bird, or as goo scrapped from a jogger’s shoe.

The same is true with human beings. While you may not worry about hungry birds or being stepped on by giants, it is important in your quest to become a happier human being that you face your difficulties head on. It has been said that “it is better to face the enemy than the void.” After all, no one is exempt from problems. Even rich and powerful people have to deal with health issues, relationship difficulties and inclement weather and bad breath. And rich and famous folks don’t have the advantage of people TELLING them their halitosis is wilting flowers and knocking horses off their feet.

You’ve heard it before (and yes I’m going to tell you again) the key factor is not so much the problem, but how one deals with it that matters.

With apologies to Muhammad Ali, please remember…

Float like a butterfly. Don’t pinch like a crab. This is your life. Make it the best you can have.

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