Thursday, 3 October 2013

Be Happy Now (Step #2)

Step number two of the 8 Easy Steps is "Be Happy Now."

I love this:

Not because “The Secret” says so. Not because of some shiny happy Oprah crap. But because we can choose to appreciate what is in our lives instead of being angry or regretful about what we lack. It’s a small, significant shift in perspective. It’s easier to look at what’s wrong or missing in our lives and believe that is the big picture—but it isn’t. We can choose to let the beautiful parts set the tone.
I think that Kate Bartolotta summed up in one short paragraph (for free) what took an entire book, a DVD, and several Oprah episodes to push down our throats. I mean help us. By helping Rhonda Byrne make a lot of money.

Ahem.

Personally, when The Secret came out, I remember thinking, "Hey, haven't I heard this before? Like, when I was a kid trying to learn how to ride horses and I pretty much sucked at it and my mom told me to visualize myself riding and what it would look like? And what did she call that . . . ? Right. Self-visualization (I picked a random website after a quick browser search. Okay, it wasn't entirely random, but it was the first one that looked like what I was looking for, but you'll probably actually read it before I will), a technique that sports coaches have been using for years. Years.

Visualize what you want and how to get there.

Back on topic. Ahem.

Okay, firstly, let's look at the "I'm a realist" view of Step 2.

Being happy now can be hard to do. Some days you do literally get shit on. Or you get hot tea spilled on you, bend back your big toenail 3/4 of the way back, and watch your daughter break her collarbone all on the same day (and maybe throw in a major-life-thingy like an illness or job loss). Let's face it. You are going to have some days where all you want to do is cry, so setting the BHN goal at 100% right off the bat might make you feel like a failure in your near future.

This brings us to the "Positive" view of Step 2.

I'm going to honestly try to be happy now, being thankful for all of those little joys in my life (like the cookies that I have in my cookie jar because my toddler insisted on making cookies even though I was dead-tired and the thought of cleaning up the mess was depressing) instead of being whiny about the little annoyances in my life (like a cookie-dough-and-flour decoration scheme in my freshly-cleaned kitchen).

And while I'm honestly trying to be happy now, I'm not going to beat myself up if I derail a little bit. It's okay to cry; sometimes it makes it easier to start over and say, "Okay, why was I sad, and was it worth being sad about, and can I change a thought here or there to make it easier to be happy?" I'll probably have to make lots of little changes often about how I think about thoughts that make me grateful instead of resentful, and happy instead of whiny and depressed.

Eventually it should become a habit.

And now, how I was doing Step 2 before I knew that there was a Step 2.

I have already been doing this on my own for a while now. Sometimes when I'm having a bad day I remember a  thought that a character had in Nicholas Sparks' The Lucky One. The dude in the story (so do not remember his name) has recently returned to the States from fighting in a war somewhere. He doesn't feel sorry for the people who are getting upset over not getting the best possible parking spot at Starbucks; there are people elsewhere in the world who wake up wondering if they're going to be blown to bits today.

When I'm getting upset I often stop myself and say, "self, is this a parking-spot-at-Starbucks kind of thing? Or is this an I-might-watch-my-entire-unit-die-horribly-and-painfully kind of thing?" If it's the former, it's pretty easy to find something to be happy about (like I have a car and I can afford to get a coffee). If it's the latter, well, if you're watching, you're still alive. Not that you should be happy about watching everyone die, because really, that would make you a horrible person. But, you are alive, and while that probably will not be easy to deal with, it can be something to at least be thankful for.

Anyway, Thanksgiving is coming, so this is a good Step to be thinking about.

What are we thankful for, and why does it make us happy?

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