Friday, December 17, 2010
Some people might see the flower above and think, "Dying flower." I saw a star for a friend who loves stars. I've been thinking about our ability to create happiness in our lives, and how we view our world seems to have a lot to do with it.
Once I started the thought process, I talked to my friend, Nancy. Do some people just have all the bad luck, I asked, or is it all about perception? I have a couple of friends who can't ever seem to get a break. Are they inviting this into their lives or is it out of their control?
As often happens, when we open the door to an idea, the universe responds. In the past week, these are the things that showed up for me:
1. Daily Peace quote: "Enjoying life - it's a choice and a practice." - June Shiver
2. Daily Peace quote: "In difficult times, you should always carry something beautiful in your mind." - Blaise Pascal
3. Email from a Methodist church in Durham: "...as Christians, we must not let something as fickle and vacillating as our moods and emotions dictate how we live our lives. Scripture speaks of a deep, abiding joy that can sustain us at all times -through tragedy and triumph, success and failure. So no matter what may come our way...Paul exhorts us to 'rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice.'"
4. A friend on Facebook: "I decided to be happy. Forgot how powerful that is."
5. An interview with Barbara Fredrickson in the May 2009 issue of The Sun Magazine entitled, "The Science of Happiness": "There are some bedrock conditions that need to be met. Once they are met, though, even at a very low level, everyone has the same opportunities to experience positive emotions." (Let me note here that, yes, I was reading the issue for the first time. Sometimes I get behind on my magazine reading. Interesting that this was the week I chose to read it.)
Here is what it takes for me to establish and maintain a positive emotional state:
1. A sense of gratitude. Right now, that means that although I have dealt with some pretty significant things in the past six months, I am grateful for where I stand with them at this moment.
2. A sense that everything is temporary. On one of my tomorrows, my sorrow over my dad's death will become manageable. And yesterday, I was dealing with cancer; not today.
3. Something to look forward to. This may be as simple as a story I'm brewing or as large as a trip. It can be an immediate anticipation (my day off) or one that will take a little longer such as retirement.
4. Doing things for other people who are going through difficult times.
5. Creating. Cards, photographs, stories. Relationships, good habits.
6. An ability to be flexible and patient. These are toughies for me, but lack of them contributes to unhappiness in my life.
One of the readings (I couldn't locate it by the time I finally got around to writing this post) suggests that we get up every morning and decide that we are going to embrace the day with the expectation that our day will go well. The holidays will certainly be a good time to put this suggestion to the test. Let me know if you try it and how it works out.