- Mental Health»
Living Simply and Finding Happiness
Do you see that glass in front of you half-empty or half-full? I have spent decades expecting the worst and more often than not fulfilling those expectations almost by sheer willpower. It’s a hell of a way to live and quite frankly I finally grew tired of my negativity and did something to change it all. I am going to be emphatic in this next statement because I believe with every fiber of my being that it is true: happiness is a choice! We can choose to be miserable or we can choose to be happy and for quite some time now I have chosen to be happy.
How do I know that happiness is a choice? I have some very special people in my life and by their example they have shown me that despite the luck of the draw, despite the hardships faced, one can be happy by simply willing it. My best friend Bob has Alzheimer’s Disease and if there was ever a reason to be miserable and dejected having Alzheimer’s would be that reason. However, Bob faces each day with one credo and one credo alone: life is good! He is determined to make his remaining time on Earth a positive experience filled with love.
One of my former students was born with Spina Bifida and has been confined to a wheelchair her entire life. If you ever want to see a radiant smile then I’ll be glad to introduce you to Mary who refuses to allow her handicap to stop her from enjoying life.
So yes, I am happy! Perhaps you would like to know my own personal list of reasons why I am happy? Well I’ll be glad to tell you, so kick back and allow me to list my reasons for happiness.
I don’t know who my birth parents were but those folks must have had some seriously bionic genes which they passed along to me. Aside from the fact that I am sixty-three years old and still hike and snowshoe, I am a picture of good health and have been for most of my life. Now let’s stop and take a look at that last statement for a minute or two. I do not eat properly; in fact, I am the poster boy for unhealthy eating and I consider vegetables to be totally unnecessary. Ask Bev if you don’t believe me! If it has fins, wings or feet I will eat it; if it came out of the ground or off of a tree I will not eat it. Pretty simple formula and one that is fairly easy to remember.
I put my body through hell for decades while I was drinking, continually ingesting alcohol which at times was my only food source. I have never broken a bone and I have only been in the hospital once and that was for a bulging disc in my back which was operated on and has never given me a moment’s trouble in the twenty years since.
I have two arms, two legs and a fully functioning mind and body that takes a lickin’and keeps on tickin’. Please, tell me why I shouldn’t be happy?
I have all of my senses and with them I can taste the juiciest of steaks, smell jasmine in the air and touch Bev’s face, hear her laughter and see her smile.
I was given a brain which is capable of complex thought. It may have made some questionable decisions in the past but it also has the ability to process those decisions and adjust accordingly. Within seconds it can gather information, sort through that information, choose the best course of action and act on that calculation and it does that thousands of times each day without fail.
Computers may be faster but my mind can also add sensory input and adjust accordingly and as such is a marvel to behold. It is, quite possibly, one of the most complex machines known to mankind and considering the fact that it functions competently for seven, eight or nine decades without a warranty makes it one of the best buys on the market.
Please, tell me why I shouldn’t be happy!
Sit with me and let's chat
Oh yes, lest we forget, what many consider the weakness of the human species I consider to be my strongest asset. I have the ability to feel the joy of laughter. I have the ability to feel remorse for my unkind actions. I have the ability to feel emotional pain for a loved one when they are suffering and I am capable of giving strength to those who are down through my compassionate words.
Empathy towards others is quite possibly our most wondrous of gifts. Once I thought it was a weakness to show emotions. Now I celebrate every tear that falls, every laugh wrinkle on my face and every ounce of compassion in my body. It is joyous to be human and to care about other human being.
I must not forget that, which in my opinion, is our highest calling, namely love. Whether we descended from the apes, crawled onshore from some primordial ooze or were begotten by the Biblical ancestors, what has developed is a higher life form that is capable of receiving love and accepting love.
I love and I am loved. Please, tell me why I shouldn’t be happy!
Are you happy with your life?
Yes, I Have Reflections
When I first started attending AA meetings I would speak at meetings and I would talk about the problems I had, how miserable my life was because of my past drinking. I felt it was important that other alcoholics hear how tough my life was and most likely I was hoping to gather some sympathy. One day an old timer took me aside and told me that my sharing fell under the category of “poor me, poor me, pour me another drink.” He went on to tell me that the purpose of an AA meeting was to share our experience, strength and hope so that others might find the solution through our words. Oh, but he wasn’t done! He also added that if people wanted to know how to be miserable all they had to do was go to a tavern; it was my job, however, to teach people how to be happy in sobriety.
I have not forgotten those words. The only problems I have today are problems magnified beyond reasonable proportion by my mind. I look around at people who are homeless, jobless, unloved, abused and in a state of hopelessness and it is pretty easy for me to gain perspective and realize just how lucky I am.
Yes I am happy! I was born with all the tools necessary to find joy in my life. I was born with all the tools necessary to give support to those who are down, to bring laughter into lives and to spread love wherever I go.
I would be a fool not to be happy and Daddy didn’t raise no fool!
AUTHOR'S NOTE: One year after writing this article I can say without hesitation that life has never been better. Is it always easy? Not at all; there will always be hardships and trials. However, it is a wonderful life and will remain so as long as I remember the hard lessons learned.
2012 Bill Holland (aka billybuc)