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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Monday, January 19, 2009

Be Happy by Diane Gaston

"I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be."– Groucho Marx

"Be happy. It's one way of being wise."– Colette

“In every life we have some trouble But when you worry you make it double Don't worry, be happy”—Bobby Ferrin

“Happiness is a choice, not a reaction.”—me!

I really believe this. I really believe we can be happy even when things are pretty rotten in our lives. Oh, maybe not if our very existence is threatened, but otherwise, even if bad things are happening. We just have to decide to be happy.

As a social worker, I once had a client who had little money and no family around her. Nonetheless, she did not feel sorry for herself. She walked to the coffee shop and made friends there. When she could no longer walk to the coffee shop, she stayed home and enjoyed TV. When her TV went on the fritz, she enjoyed reading books. When she couldn’t buy new books, she enjoyed re-reading her old ones. She had more bad things happen to her in her life than you could count, but she chose to be happy with whatever she had. She taught me that there is always something in life to be happy about.

This week I was riveted to the TV coverage of the plane crash in the Hudson River. These people survived a terrible trauma. In coming days, weeks and years, the survivors have two choices: to lament that they had to suffer through such a frightening event, or to be happy about how they reacted, how they survived. All reports are that everyone--from the wonderful pilots to the air crew, to the passengers, to their rescuers--did the right thing. In so many cases they chose to be heroic. Many of us are experiencing adversity these days; we can also decide to handle our adversity heroically. We can decide we will not let go of happiness, even in hard times.

One important benefit to being happy is it is infectious. Saturday my husband and I went downtown in Washington, D.C., to look at the inaugural preparations. What struck me even more than the lines and lines of Portapotties, was the happiness that pervaded the numbers of people who were doing the same thing. It was impossible not to smile, no matter what one's politics might be. The more we choose to be happy, the happier others around us will be.

Even at the worst of times we can marvel at a sunrise, enjoy a TV show, have a laugh with a friend. How many times in my life have I lost myself in the pleasure of a book when things outside of me were going bad? Too many to count!

So when I’m struggling to figure out a plot problem in my writing, when I’m desperate for a new story idea, when my deadline looms and I have tons more to write, I hate to complain, because I'm happy about this life I've chosen, even when it is full of problems.

We can’t stop stress. We can’t stop problems. We can’t stop tragedy from coming into our lives. No matter how clever we are, how smart, how careful, there is always something we can’t control. But we can control how we react to our experiences, and we can decide to be happy. you think I’m nuts? Feel free to argue with me.
Or prove my point. Share a time when you made a decision to be happy, even when the events around you gave you every reason in the world to be miserable.

Diane is staying home and watching the Inauguration on TV, but you can visit her website and still enter her contest to win your choice of one of her books. Or for more photos from Saturday, including the PortaPotties, visit her today on Risky Regencies.

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At 11:23 AM, Blogger Terry Odell said...

I'm still working on the positive attitude thing. Just found out my s-i-l was diagnosed with a very rare lymphoma. But it's also a very slow acting one. (I posted her note to me on my blog this morning.) I think with medical issues, I'm pretty good at seeing the positive. Then again, I've been lucky.

But for the rest of my life stuff, I tell myself that I'm going to have to listen to the heroine of my newest book, who can always find the bright side somewhere. As she puts it, "Life's too short to waste time brooding about the negative."

At 3:10 PM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Happy is very much a choice. I try to point out to my girls that what you watch on TV and the music you listen to can really affect your outlook. And I really try to avoid negative people.

Terry, best of luck to your SIL.

At 7:30 PM, Blogger Ladyhawk said...

Prayers for your SIL, Terry.

I agree that one must choose to be happy, but that does not mean that because one is not happy all the time one is choosing to be sad.

There are people I know who no matter how good things are going will complain, but will also claim to be very happy. I also know people who feel the need to burst someone else's bubble at every opportunity, and consider themselves very happy.

When I had to put my horse down it was not something I wanted to do, but something I knew must be done. It was my responsibility to see it through to the end. It is also one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had, and I was happy for him that he was finally pain free and happy with me for having the courage to follow through on a promise.

At 8:19 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Judy, I think you make a very good point. I did not mean that we are never to be unhappy. It is important to feel our feelings even if they are saddness, anger, grief, etc.

Your example of putting down your beloved horse is a good example of what I was trying to convey. You did the right thing for your horse and that led to a fundamental feeling of satisfaction. I am certain you also grieved his loss and were sad about it. But you did not allow those negative feelings to define all of your experience from then on.

At 9:29 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

I love this post and I totally agree with you, Diane. And, of course, nobody can be happy twenty-four seven, but there is always a bright side. And hearing story's like Terry's about her SIL make me appreciate being healthy too.

No matter how you look at it, happiness is a choice, so is complaining all the time. I choose not to be around people who do nothing but complain. It gets old. It's easy to complain. I do think some people are addicted to complaining. Who would want to burst someone else's bubble? They can claim to be happy but it sounds like an isecurity issue to me. It's tough to handle things courageously like Judy did with her horse. Happiness and seeing the glass half full is definitely a choice.

Love hearing about people like your friend who made the best of things, Diane. As far as I'm concerned, those are the sort of people who are true heroes in life.

And you, Diane, always have a smile for everyone. I love how you spread the cheer! Keep smiling! And thanks for the happy post.

At 9:49 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

I agree with you completely, O Divine One. And everyone who knows you knows that you have one of the most infectious smiles around!

Happiness is a choice. Sometimes it is not the first choice or the easiest choice, but it is always the best choice. And the thing about the happiness choice is that you can go back and make that choice after you've made a bad choice. Not all choices are like that!

Positive thoughts and prayers for your SIL, Terry.

Judy, I know you made a difficult choice, but you can rest assured your horse blessed you for it. And the fact that you kept faith with him and saw it through to the end made all the difference to him. Trust me. I was a vet tech for five years. I always tried to let the owners know that it was a choice made from love and that NOTHING bad could come of that.

It is not always easy, but I try very hard to be happy every day. That doesn't mean I don't get mad or throw myself a little pity party every now and then, but I put a self-imposed time limit on stuff like that. When the agent I really wanted sent me a really great two page rejection letter I DID give myself permission to be sad for ONE day. After that I concentrated on all of the good things she said and moved forward from that.

Then again, I live with some real happiness experts - my dogs and cats. They know when to enjoy just laying around being lazy and when to go nuts because the wind is blowing leaves or just because the sun is out and there is a RED BALL!!!

At 10:11 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Louisa, I love the way you love your animals. You must post some pictures somewhere for us to see! You work so hard to take good care of them.

And Terry, I forgot to add that my thoughts will be with your SIL. I will visit your blog.

At 2:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My best friend says, "I've discovered that I have a gift for being happy." She and I often talk about it... it is a choice to find happinness in the life we're given. That doesn't mean we are always smiling, because sad things do happen, like getting ill or making tough choices, but we walk through those times knowing that we will one day laugh again because we choose to live on the positive side.

I didn't have a golden childhood filled with warm memories. That wasn't my fault. But as an adult, I made the choice to live my life as a positive person despite my background. I chose a positive future because I finally had power over my choice.

I love the story about the woman who lost a lot, but was happy with a little.

Thank you for sharing.

At 7:25 AM, Blogger Norah Wilson said...

Great post, Diane. And what a touching collection of comments.

I don't always catch my negative self talk, but here's a phrase I try to remember frequently: Joy is available to me RIGHT NOW. I just have to stop and focus to find it. Simple, real joy. A few minutes of it can go a long way.

At 9:00 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

I loved your post. I'm one of those people who tries to "walk on the bright side of life." Yes, I'm a Monty Python fan. For me, finding the humor in whatever is going on, be it illnesses or career disappointments, helps. Laughter truly is the best medicine.

At 9:05 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I'm glad that you all found this post worth a comment! I do think happiness it worth it.


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