One of my fondest memories is one of my daughter occurred in just a few brief seconds a couple of years ago. In 2004 we had a series of three hurricanes pass through Orlando. It was a rare anomaly, as most either veer off before reaching us, or become so weakened that they turn out to be nothing more than a summer thunderstorm. It’s even rarer to get more than one, even of the weakened storms, to pass through Central Florida.« Continue »
As I kid, I found that people were always telling me to smile. I’ll be honest, I hated it. I was neither sad nor happy, and the expression on my face matched this. It was mostly a blank expression, or perhaps an expression of thought or contemplation. My face didn’t show a frown, yet it didn’t show a smile either. Thinking back on it, I’m not sure why everyone always told me to smile. Maybe I looked sad to them, it’s hard to say. I don’t recall seeing other people smile all the time, but they sure did tell me to.
As time has gone by, I have honed a positive attitude and have found the secret of happiness. I generally feel good all the time, and I have found that this usually shows through in a smile. What’s even better is that when I smile other people smile. A smile really is contagious.
Wait… what’s that?
In a Charlie Brown teacher voice: whah wa waaa whah wah.
You want the secret to happiness?
Wa waa whah wa.
Well I’m not really sure this is the time or the place, I’m in the middle of blog post here.
Whoa, hey, get of my keyboard. I’ll tell you. Are you ready?
The secret is: You Choose to be Happy.
Yeah that’s it. Now, I really need to get back to my post, people are trying to read about smiling and glowing.
Ok, where was I? Oh yes, smiling is contagious. Even those half hearted kinda smiles are contagious. You know, the ones where you smile even though you don’t really feel like smiling. Those kind are mildly contagious, and you might see a few people catching these smiles and smiling in return.
A Contagious Smile
You want a really contagious smile? Then feel it when you smile. Feel all the joy, happiness, and gratitude of simply being alive. Think of how fortunate you are to exist on this wonderful little planet full of feelings and emotion. Be happy that you even have the ability to feel such an emotion. Think of all the things you are thankful for. A roof, food, water, family, friends, and anything else you may be thankful for. Then unleash the smile on the world.
Now you have a highly contagious smile. Someone call the CDC, we’ve got an smile epidemic here. You walk around with a smile that you can feel, and others will smile. You will share your good feelings just by being in the general vicinity of others. People will sense it, they will see your smile and know you feel it, and some of your happiness will rub off on them.
That sounds great, doesn’t it? To lead by example. To get others to smile by feeling happy and smiling yourself. I think that’s a much better method than telling someone else to smile, and from my experience it works a million times better.
Sounds great, does anything top a feel good, happy smile? I think there is a phenomenon that beats it. In fact, it completely blows it out of the water. I know, you’re thinking how can that be? A smile that is felt deep within is so wonderful, how can anything be better. How can we top a contagious smile?
I know… I gave away the answer in the title, but it helps Google find me when I give descriptive titles.
An Infectious Glow
It’s the glow! The most common use of the term “glowing” is during pregnancy. How many times have you heard someone tell an expectant mother that she is glowing? I had heard it quite often even before I knew any expectant mothers. Then one day, a little over 4 years ago, I got to see it firsthand; when my sweetie pie of a wife was pregnant with our first child. WOW! Talk about glowing. I had never experienced it first hand until that time. There is a true glow about an expectant mother. The absolute feeling of happiness and joy associated with bringing a new life into this world shines through every pore of her being. It is so amazing to witness and be a part of this experience; to see and feel the glow.
(By the way, when reading “sweetie pie” in the above paragraph, do it with a French accent. That’s how I say it since everything sounds more romantic with a French accent.)
I hope that each of you gets to witness the glow at some point in your life. The glow comes from a complete happiness and utter fulfillment. It shows when your emotional body is so full of joy that it spills from your physical body. It can be seen and felt. The glow is so powerful that it instantly infects everyone in the immediate area. The swine flu has nothing on the glow. The glow will infect you instantly. The symptoms will be an immediate happiness and a literal feeling of joy. There is nothing more powerful for spreading joy. If superheroes had the glow in their arsenal, there would be no evil villains; evil could simply not exist in the presence of the glow.
How to Witness the Glow
Now, I want to save you some effort and possibly jail time for stalking pregnant woman in your search to experience the glow. I came across something last night that caught my attention because someone mentioned the glow. It’s the only other thing I’ve seen that can generate the glow. This “thing” that I speak of is: overcoming tremendous adversity and achieving success doing something you love. Doing this can culminate in the glow.
I’m going to share with you a clip from “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Some of you may know that I don’t watch much TV, so what made tonight different? I like to believe that everything happens for a reason, and I often find inspiration in the creativity and talent of others. On this night, the reason was to witness the glow.
I’m going to share a video with you so you can witness the glow, and avoid stalking expectant mothers. The video is of Bryan Gaynor, a contestant on “So You Think You Can Dance.” Bryan Gaynor has scoliosis, a severe curvature of the spine. From what I’ve read, scoliosis can be very painful and can even make it difficult to breath. He doesn’t let this condition stop him from doing what he loves! Check out this video and see the glow. (If you’re reading from an RSS feed, you may have to click through to the site to see the video.) Also, an earlier version got pulled from YouTube due to copyright restrictions, so check it out while this one is still up.
Were you infected with the glow? Did you feel the happiness enter in? I hope you did. When I watched it on TV in full size you could really see the detail he put into his dance and the joy that flowed out. Really incredible.
Do you have any experiences with a contagious smile or infections glow? I’d love to hear them. Just scroll down to the comments sections to share them.
Edit: I just came across a new post on The Jungle of Life. Lance Ekum, of The Jungle of Life, and the folks at The Levity Project are putting together a video compilation of people smiling. I think this is a great idea and will be a sure fire way to spread some happiness. Head on over to The Jungle of Life to read more.
Edit #2: I also just came across another great post that mentions smiling as a way to become more playful. Head to Dragos Roua – Brilliantly Better to check it out.
Edit #3: Annabel Candy at Get in the Hot Spot posted a great article about how smiling helped her daughter succeed in her dance class and make new friends quickly.
You’ve seen caricature artists at carnivals, special events, and theme parks. Most of these artists will, for a medium sized fee, draw a silly picture of you in the style of a cartoon. You’ve also seen the political cartoons, which often feature less festive caricatures.
Imagine for a minute that you were to get an accurate depiction of yourself as a caricature. In the true sense of a caricature, you are getting a bigger than life representation of yourself. The drawings often emphasize physical features, but often they do something more. They can connect with your feelings, your actions, or your perceptions. They can be a representation of your true self as well.
Now imagine that for a single day, a caricature artist is going to follow you. He’s going to watch your every move, see your interaction with others, and observe your behaviors. He is going to draw a depiction of you in an accurate yet larger than life image. But, you don’t know he’s there. He’s doing this as a secret project, and you won’t know about it until the caricature is complete.
What will your Caricature look like?
As you ponder that, think about how you spend your time, how your thoughts and feelings mix, how your respond to and interact with others. How would you like your caricature to look?
Is it going to be a version of you with a sour attitude and big frown? Are you acting from a place of negativity? Do you treat others poorly; do you put them down and always try to prove yourself as better than them? Do you have a lot of hate in your heart? Are you often sad? Are you jealous of others and their accomplishments? Are you quick to judge?
That artist is going to draw a dark and sinister version of you. It may resemble the classic villain with the top hat and pointy pencil thin mustache. It may resemble the old miser, greedy and vain. A skilled artist will be able to depict the negativity in your soul with several skillful strokes of a pencil. Your inner self will come alive on the page. It will be a horrid wretched image.
On the other hand, maybe you go through your day happy and gleeful. Smiling at everyone you pass, stopping to help an old lady cross the street. Maybe you live by the golden rule and do to others as you would like them to do to you. Perhaps you build others up and are thankful to have them in your life. You might be full of happiness and have a heart full of joy.
This type of person will even bring joy to the artist as he happily arcs joyful lines across the page as the caricature is drawn. The drawing will portray happiness with smiling eyes and rosy cheeks. It may be a happy Santa type of picture. Or it may be a joyful childlike image with big grins and a sparkle in the eye. It’s certain to be pleasing to view and will surely bring a smile to your face just looking at it.
Becoming your Caricature
Now, consider this observation I have made over a number of years. As people age, they become their caricatures. The big ears or oversized nose tends to become reality. More important (or more alarming possibly) is that people tend to show their inner-selves more as they get older. The frown lines turn to large frowning wrinkles. The sad flops of skin and sagging eyes show a lifetime of sorrow and negativity. While the laugh lines turn to happy indications of a lifetime of joy. The sparkle in the eye of the ever happy old codger portrays the positive attitude held throughout a long and happy life.
Take a look around, sit down at the mall or the park and observe people walking by. Are they happy? Are they sad? Can you tell just by looking at them? Look at older folks and see if you can get a feel for what kind of life they have lived. Look at the younger folks and see if you can imagine what they will look like when they are older.
Then think of yourself, what do you want your caricature (and your older self) to look like? What impression do you want others to have of you at first glance? Think of the other people sitting benches watching people; what do you want them to think of you as you walk past? Begin to pay attention to your inner thoughts and your outward appearance. The two are more closely linked than most people realize.
Welcome to our campfire. Close your eyes and imagine the warmth of the fire radiating into the cool night air. Do this now. The heat feels good, warm and penetrating. The orange glow gently flickers and you hear the crackling of the wood and embers. Now imagine yourself unfolding your camp chair and sitting down among a circle of friends. Look around at your friends. These are friends and bloggers from our wonderful little online community. They come from across the globe to join us around a campfire. Look to your left. You see Eric Watermolen from Eden Journal, sitting there smiling and welcoming you. Look past Eric, across the fire, and you see Patty from Why Not Start Now. She’s brimming with positivity and waving hello. Now look to your right and you see Annabel Candy from Get in the Hot Spot. She’s upbeat, smiling, and says hello with that great accent of hers. Look next to Annabel and you see Patrenia from Personal Finance Notebook. She nods her head in your direction and you see the wisdom and compassion in her eye. Finally, look straight across the fire and you’ll see Krissa from HalfAstic.com as she gives you a grin and a wave, welcoming you to our circle of friends.
I’m so happy that you could join our very first campfire. We’re going to enjoy each other’s company for a bit and chat about life. We are fortunate to live in an era where we can span time and space to gather for a little campfire and a chat. We have much to discuss, but we’ll stick to a single topic. We have plenty of time to cover other topics when we meet back here next month. Tonight we are going to discuss a topic of great importance to all gathered around our fire. It is just a single word, but it plays a big part in our lives. Some have mastered it, some are still learning, and others don’t know where to find it. It is Happiness. Each of us has varying views on Happiness, yet I have a feeling we all agree on its importance. Join us as we take turns discussing Happiness, that part it plays in our lives, and perhaps some advice on how to find it.
Krissa Lopez – HalfAsstic.com
Well, this should be fun! I mean writing about happiness would almost have to be, wouldn’t it?
I really think that while the big, wonderful things are most thought of when someone says, “What makes you happy?”, it’s the small things that we absolutely can’t live without. Well, not and maintain our daily lives at a happy status quo.
Right now I hear my daughter upstairs with a friend of hers and they are both laughing hysterically at something silly and inane. It makes me smile every time they burst out laughing. These are the things that make us happy and keep us happy without us knowing it or even thinking about it.
Taking stock each night in prayer or just plain old reassessment is a good way to maintain a sunny disposition. I mean when you actually think over the entire day and realize all the things you have to feel grateful for and happy about, it’s quite eye-opening.
My wheelchair bound, mother-in-law is Catholic and today the priest came to our home to visit with her, hear her confession and give her communion. I have been having trouble lately with her due to her increasing dementia combined with her negativism. I feel sure that she is going to be a much happier, lighthearted, little old lady now that she has seen him. At least for a while.
This? I am truly grateful for and it makes me happy. 🙂
Patrenia Donald-Spears – PersonalFinanceNotebook.com
Happiness is peace. Happiness is balance. Happiness is true contentment. Happiness is forgiveness. Happiness is <what is your definition>. You see, I don’t believe that there is ONE thing that can truly make us happy. It is a compilation of many.
Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. –Dalia Lama
Happiness cannot be achieved haphazardly. You are not going to receive a knock at the door with happiness appearing and saying, “I’m here!” It’s also not going to be achieved by waiting for someone to come along and make you happy. What if they never show up? Then you have wasted precious time.
I can remember a few years ago, I would always say, “I’ll be happy when _________.” Well, when “when” came, there was a new goal of “I’ll be happy when _______.” I realized that if I kept waiting or needed these perfect situations to be happy, then it was NEVER going happen.
Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present. – Jim Rohn
Happiness must be sought purposefully, daily. It must come from a place within. We all have it. We are born with it. It’s just a matter of finding it deep inside. And keeping it no matter what happens around us.
Yes, we all have our brushes with some form of disappointment or tragedy. Job loss. Lack of money. Horrible accidents. The loss of loved ones. Bodily afflictions. Many of these things are beyond our control, but we can determine if we will allow our joy to be stolen. Don’t worry or think too much about tomorrow. Just do the best you can for today.
Eric Watermolen – EdenJournal.com
Happiness to me is a constant state of being. It’s a way of life. As humans, we are evolved enough to have a moderate amount of control over our emotions. We have the power of choice. This power of choice and the feeling and control of emotions are great powers indeed. It is surely one of the many things that set us apart from the other beings that inhabit our planet.
If we have such a great power, then we may as well make good use of it. I make use of my power by choosing to be happy almost all the time. Every once in a while I choose to feel sad, but just to enhance the happiness I’ll feel later. Happiness feels good, and since I like to feel good, I choose to be happy.
Even though we have that choice to be happy, it doesn’t always come easy, especially when we’re in the beginning stages of finding our happiness. Growing up, I was usually pretty happy, but it wasn’t yet a way of life. I think the realization of happiness as a choice came sometime after I finished high school. I’m sure it was in a couple of self improvement books that I read. The one that stands out was Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. That book really hit home with me and made it clear that I get to choose how to feel and how to guide my life. That got me started with daily affirmations where I would tell myself how wonderful my day would be. I saw in a movie (I think it was Ferris Beuler’s Day Off, but it might have been another movie) where one of the characters said, “Every day I clap my hands together and say, Today is a great day!” I really liked that idea, and many years later I continue to start my day in this manner. It really sets a happy tone for the entire day and makes happiness come naturally.
Annabel Candy – GetInTheHotSpot.com
Happiness is what life’s all about. If you’re not happy with your daily life then you need to fix that right now. Life’s too short to be unhappy.
I’ve suffered from depression and it was a miserable, joyless existence. The good thing about that is now that I’m better I’ve vowed that I’m never going back to that bleak life again.
I’ve spent a lot of time working out what makes me happy and what doesn’t. I constantly focus on being happy in the present and practice doing the things that make me happy every day. You should too.
Here are my five tips for happiness:
1. Prioritize happiness
Actively seek out happiness. Note what makes you happy and use all five of your senses. Here are five things that make me happy: the smell of oranges, my ipod playlist, walking on the beach, stroking cats and the taste of chocolate. They’re all cheap or free, easily accessible and only take a few minutes to give me the lift I need. I wrote a list of 101 ways to be happy and it was the quickest post I ever wrote. I was amazed by how many resources we have for feeling happy. Try making one for yourself (or use mine) so that you’ve got ideas for being happy ready when you need them.
2. Be selfish
The reason my depression got so bad was because I spent more time thinking about and looking after other people than I did myself. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to take care of yourself first.
3. Help other people
When you’ve looked after yourself schedule some time helping other people. Voluntary work does make you feel better about yourself and it needn’t eat up too much of your time. I spend 30 minutes twice a week helping students with reading at my kids school. Picking up litter’s a quick easy way to give back whenever you can.
4. Be grateful
Stop moaning and being a victim. Look at how much you have right now and rejoice. If you’re struggling with this one it could be because you’re making the wrong comparisons. Don’t compare what you’ve got with what your friends, relatives or more affluent neighbours have. Some people in this world are homeless or subsistence farmers, others have HIV and no access to medication or care. Many families are living in fear and poverty in war torn countries. If you’re reading this then you have access to a computer and the Internet which already makes you so much better off than most of the world population. How many things have you got to be grateful for?
If you’re tired, stressed or feeling down exercise is the best way to pick yourself up. If you’re under pressure it’s the best way to take time out. I use exercise as preventative medicine to keep me happy and recommend you exercise daily too. Forget grueling gym workouts though, do something you enjoy like dancing, surfing, kayaking or cycling. Or indulge yourself with the best exercise of all time and a great way to boost your happiness ~ a walk in the fresh air.
Just thinking about it makes me feel happy!
Patty Bechtold – WhyNotStartNow.wordpress.com
All this talk of happiness has me wondering: What, exactly, is this quest about?
Are we seeking permanent cheerfulness? Unstoppable mirth? And are we really on the right track?
Probably not, considering that just about everything I’ve read about happiness so far points to the truth that we’re not very good at envisioning the arc of our lives. And as several authors have noted, we’re even worse at predicting what will make us happy.
That’s because true happiness is usually about inner rather than outer, but for the most part we’re taught to focus on outer. And that often leads us to a place of endless striving, with little satisfaction.
For instance, if I’m focusing only on outer, and yearning to live in a house by the ocean, then I may do everything I can to try to make that happen. Yet, the jury’s still out about whether that will fulfill me the way I think it will, or even if I can achieve that goal.
But if I stop for a moment to understand the archetypal imagery of a house by the ocean, I begin to see that the house represents me, my inner life, my relationship with myself. And the ocean, with all its vast beauty and secrets, represents the mysteries within. The treasure, if you will, there for the taking if I’m willing to do a little digging.
All of which is much more complex, and meaningful, than simply setting a goal to be happy by accomplishing the tasks that we think will get us there.
So my hunch is that most people seeking happiness are actually longing for more meaning in their lives. And at the end of the day, the question to ask ourselves is not, “Was I happy today?” but rather “Was today meaningful?”
It’s a little like the stories you hear of people at the end of their lives. When asked what made them happiest, they remember dancing barefoot in the grass. Eating ice cream with their children. Spooning with their lovers.
They don’t think so much about the killer business deal they made. Or even about how many subscribers they had for their blog.
Thank you for joining us
I want to thank you, our readers, for joining us around our campfire. I hope you have enjoyed our discussion on Happiness. Please take a few minutes to get further acquainted with our campfire guests by visiting their blogs and subscribing to their RSS feeds. You may see an unusual thing when you visit some of these blogs. You’ll notice that some of us have posted this same Campfire to our individual blogs. We have decided to throw SEO (search engine optimization) rules to the wind and truly share this collaboration. We all participated in this great discussion and wanted to share the great conversation will all of our readers. We hope you’ll appreciate this new found nature of sharing in this wide world of blogging.
Want to keep the campfire going? Add your thoughts on happiness in the comments section. And be sure to check out the comments sections of our campfire friends to see more great contributions to The Campfire.
Meet your Campfire Friends.
Krissa Lopez is a mother, wife, and caregiver to an elderly, invalid, mother-in-law while she runs a nuthouse in south Texas. She also runs a blog site called HalfAsstic that continues to amuse her with all the possibilities that lie in, not so much her written word, but the words she hasn’t found to write yet.
Patrenia Donald-Spears is the writer and publisher of the content written at www.personalfinancenotebook.com. After three and a half years, she and her husband were able to pay off approximately $93,000 worth of debt on November 14, 2008. They were, like many Americans, working just to pay bills. Fed up, they decided enough was enough. They took control of their finances and started digging deeper to learn everything they could about money. Now realizing that education in reference finances is powerful, she has become passionate about teaching others to help them gain the same freedom and happiness in their lives.
Eric Watermolen is a lifestyle blogger and amateur philosopher. He enjoys discussions of our path in life; where the path leads, the adventure along the path, and the unseen forces that guide us along our path. In addition to writing here, you can find him at Eden Journal, where he posts a wide spectrum of articles from personal development to spiritual and philosophical awakenings.
Annabel Candy writes about self improvement at Get In the Hot Spot. She runs a web design company with her husband and manages to stay (mostly) focused on designing websites for small businesses and inspiring and motivating people to live their dream despite the general mayhem created by their three children.
Patty Bechtold is a storyteller, counselor, and coach who is downright determined (at times bordering on relentless) about helping people create more meaning in their lives. She writes about how meaning intersects with experience and action: what it is, how we get there, what trips us up. You can join her merry band of meaning makers at her blog, whynotstartnow.wordpress.com, or stop in at her website, bechtoldlifework.com.
Do you ever feel like you are living in a black and white TV and you’re the only one in color? Like you can see all the things that others close their eyes to? I was thinking about this the other day and it reminded me of the movie Pleasantville. The movie is set in the 1950’s when black and white was standard fare. Gradually, a single individual is awakened to the possibility of color, and slowly transitions to full color. Others are not aware of the existence of color. They were happy to plug along in black and white, ignorant to the existence of color and happy with black and white. They saw no reason to change. In fact they rebelled against the change. The townspeople lashed out with violence against any people or physical items that turned to color. Change was not welcomed. They held on to old beliefs and wanted to force those beliefs and values on everyone else.
Here is a music video that was released with the movie. Watch a bit of it and then continue reading while the music plays. (The video is included to enhance your reading experience, if you are reading this from an RSS feed or email I encourage you to visit the site to embrace the full experience.)
A time of shifting awareness
I feel like we are living in a time of shifting awareness. Like some are beginning to open their eyes to new ideas, to the color in a black and white world. Some approach life with an open mind, ready to accept new things without influence from past experiences or dogmas. I’m seeing more and more people opening to life and all the wonderful experiences available to us.
I see others that are stuck in the black and white. Not willing to listen to other views. Not willing to accept any possibilities contrary to their own set beliefs. People that focus in on the minute details of life and lose sight of the big picture. Sometimes I feel bad for these folks, but other times I wonder if that is the experience they are meant to have. Perhaps they are here to feel and live the exact experience they are having. I don’t believe we are all here to grow spiritually. Some may be, but I don’t see that as the primary purpose of all people on this planet.
The problem is the people that aren’t growing and changing and experiencing new things can tend to slow the growth of others. It drives a split into the dissimilar groups. One group with new visions of the future, the other group with the comfort of past experiences and set values. Neither group willing to compromise.
Resistant to change
I love when a song resonates well with the content of a movie. In this case it is Across the Universe, by Fiona Apple. (A remake of a classic Beatles tune.) At the beginning of the video you can see the brief flash of color on the window before it is shattered by all that oppose change. You can see the anger embraced and released by the opposers of change; the destruction caused by the opposition of change.
The line “Nothing’s gonna change my world” feels as right today as it did when the song was originally written in 1968. For some deeply imbedded psychological reason, many people dislike change. I think back to images of the American Revolution, to the Inquisition, even back to the time of Jesus. These periods throughout history and hundreds in between where people have opposed change. Opposed it, fought it, killed and tortured to prevent it. Yet change still comes. Change comes because those who are open to it accept it, believe in it, and stand strong to support it. Some support change outspoken and public. Others do it quietly in the relative safety of their homes, gently keeping the flame alive while the outside world ever so slowly becomes accustomed to the differences.
Change is inevitable
It seems as though change is inevitable. We humans seem incapable of remaining the same even when we fight so hard to do so. We can look to the great triumphs of history and culture. Great civilizations that flourished for hundreds of years. Yet today, they are no longer in existence. Even the great civilizations of the past crumbled to change. Civilizations like ancient Greece where philosophers were free to think and people were free to try new things. Like ancient Rome where science and technology flourished. I wonder if the willingness to change that created these civilizations faded and ultimately morphed into a resistance to change, with this resistance to change finally destroying all the wonder that change had brought.
Where do we go from here?
Change is uncomfortable. We all know this to be fact. Yet it also seems that resistance to change can be equally uncomfortable in the long term. That comfort zone that exists inside the bubble of “no change” can only stay in existence for a short time. Soon that bubble will pop and the change will be forced upon you. Our world is changing more rapidly than ever before. I feel much better being open to change and the possibilities that come with it. I don’t always accept change, but I try to analyze it with an open mind. Look at it from all perspectives rather than from my own limited background and beliefs.
In our changing world of today, I wonder who will win. In Pleasantville, the townspeople slowly accepted color and let the wonderful experience into their world. They eventually opened their eyes, their hearts, and their mind to new possibilities. The entire town was better for it. Improvements in every facet of life, originally envisioned by a single individual. One single person to create change in the entire town. Any one of us has this same power in the real world. Any one of us can elicit change; can model the world of our future; can mold the ideas of tomorrow. To do so simply takes an open mind and a willingness to share your ideas. Are you ready to shape your future? Are you ready to accept change openly? Can you open your mind to the ideas and dreams that constantly stream into our consciousness?
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First, a little music to set the mood. Go ahead and hit play and listen as you read.
I felt a sense of sadness yesterday. It wasn’t a depressing sadness though; it was more of a comfortable content sadness. It came to me as I was walking across our humongous office building passing rows and rows of cubicles. I had a realization that most of these people were likely not living their dreams. I don’t know of many that dream of sitting in a cubicle all day. Perhaps they are doing work they like, but I felt that many of them are not. I was talking to someone at work the other day, and found that he had been working her for over 20 years. I commented that he must like working here. The response was a shoulder shrug and “It’s a job.” I suspect that is the general feeling of many here, and probably in most large companies.
That brought me to a sadness. I’m new here, so everything is still very interesting to me. I’m learning some new things and meeting new people. And, for now, I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. I know this from my defining clarity a few months back. So for me to be happy and everyone else to be merely comfortable at best, I found a feeling of comfortable sadness washing in.
As I left the building and started the long walk to the parking lot, it was raining. Raining hard as it often does in Florida. I popped up the umbrella and headed to my car. I got soaked during the walk, and my thoughts wandered to the rain. Many people dislike rain, but I’ve always like it. I often see people crowded around the exit doors when it’s raining and I think to myself, “It’s just water.” It’s funny how people try so hard to stay dry, especially when they are heading home and can find a dry set of clothes upon their arrival. My head stayed dry under the umbrella, but my feet and legs got soaked in the downpour.
As I was pulling out of the parking lot I tuned the XM radio to Cinemagic, a movie theme song station. I always hope to find a good song playing there, because the songs bring back images of great movies. On this day, as I exited the parking lot, songs from “American Beauty” were playing. These particular songs bring me to a place of content sadness. The instrumental music reaches deep and portrays a very somber tone. I think back to the movie and how sad everyone was, and how sadly the movie ended.
It felt good to wallow in the sadness for a bit. I don’t often let sadness in, yet to do so from a content perspective feels good on occasion. I let it linger for a bit as the music played and the rain beat down on the windshield. It felt good to combine all these elements of sadness; the forgotten dreams of people at work, the wonderfully sad songs, and the sights and sound of the rain as slowly changed from pelting to a light drizzle.
When I arrived at home, the sadness had passed and I was happy to be home. Just as I walked in the door, the power went out. I took note of the hint, and took the family outside to walk around the block, and hopefully find some neighbors outside to chat with. My daughter was excited at the possibility of seeing her friends and playing with them. A funny thing happens when the power goes out. A lot of people go outside. I felt for some it was from a perspective of “there’s nothing else to do.” For me it was an exciting opportunity to spend an evening outside with family, friends, and neighbors. I knew the message for me; tonight is not a night for computers or blogs, but rather for interaction with others and with nature.
I heard a funny thing mentioned a couple of times. People were wondering how they were going to eat. I found this odd since most folks in our neighborhood have natural gas stoves not affected by the power outage. Sometimes I think we get too wrapped up in our comfort and technology. I was a little excited at the potential of cooking by candlelight. As the night grew dark, we made our way back home, and just as we did the power came on. I opted to turn on the lights and cook dinner in the manner I have become accustomed. I also opted to spend the rest of the evening enjoying my family rather than jumping on the computer and writing.
All in all, it was a great day. A comfortable content sadness and an evening outside among friends.
A couple months ago I mentioned taking a Reiki class. In that class I was taught the five Reiki principles. Today I’d like to begin exploring these principles. We’ll start with the first principle.
Just for today I will not anger.
All of the principles begin with “Just for today.” This is such a powerful way to begin a life principle, because it forces you to concentrate on the now. Just now, just today; I don’t have to think about or worry about anything beyond, anything in the future. To me, it just seems easier to focus on today. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but I know that if I focus on it, just for today, I can follow this principle. I like to think that I can do just about anything for a single day.
I will not anger. Anger isn’t something that we expect. It usually jumps on us when we least expect it. There are often signs it may be coming, but when it comes it’s like a large jungle cat pouncing on us full of ferocity, gnarling teeth, and tremendous roars. Coincidentally I look just like this when I get angry.
I once heard a phrase that has stuck with me. “Anger should arrive slowly and depart quickly.” Now that’s not to say that anger should slowly build, but rather it should be slow to even start building. Then when it does arrive, it should depart quickly. Anger doesn’t serve any purpose; it’s an emotion that gets the best of us, and we can easily lose control to it. Thus it must be quick to depart, or we lose control.
Anger may appear to come from many things, but no matter what we believe the source to be, it actually comes from within. Nobody can make us angry. We come up with the anger on our own, through disagreement or imbalance between our thoughts and feelings and those of someone else. We mustn’t blame others for our anger. I alone must control my anger; I alone must control my thoughts and feelings. It’s like any other emotion really, they all come from within. We decide how we feel. There may be external stimuli, but it’s our internals that process these and act upon them.
So, just for today I will not anger. It’s only one day and I can do anything for a day. Then tomorrow, I’ll do it again, just for a day.
What about you, can you do it, just for today? How do you rid yourself of anger once it’s grasped you in it’s evil clutches?
Photo by Tambako the Jaguar