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‘Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.’
- Abraham Lincoln
Probably one of the greatest traps that I ever fell into as a young man was deciding that I would be happy if and when some predetermined event took place in the future. I would think “If this happens, then I’ll be happy. If that happens, then I’ll be happy.
People do this all the time.
It could be deciding you can be happy only if you got some job you wanted, you got a particular person you wanted to date or marry, so much money in the bank and so forth. The only trouble was my desires were “free floating”. That means if I got what I thought I wanted then my mind would press on to other “wants” that I was sure would make my life stress free and bring loads of bliss.
It bled over when I got married. Even as I was having children with my beautiful wife, was employed and making money, it still seemed that there was always something else that I needed to make me happy.
Then God sent me something to really make me think.
He gave me a chronic illness of reoccurring nasal polyps. It’s like having a year-round head cold where drugs just help hide the symptoms until a doctor has to cut them out. I’ve had nine operations in the past 20 years and live on five different drugs daily. This illness even has a danger of blindness and brain damage if it “gets away from you“.
My anger during it’s early stages seemed to build, as my happiness seemed to dwindle. The result of such anger will make not only you, but everyone around you, miserable.
If you do this long enough you tend to start unloading on people and envying them if they seem content with life. Just watching them be happy would make you mad. The ugly flip side is that tragedy in the lives of others could be the only thing that makes you happy.
You know you’re on dangerous territory when you reach that point in your life. The real threat is you might lose your soul.
You tend to get cut off from your family, your co-workers, and society as a whole as you spiral down into a deeper level of misery and it becomes so apparent to everyone around you.
Probably even worse than that is you begin to hate yourself and in your heart-of-hearts become sick of even listening to yourself talk as you swim in a pool of self pity.
So what do you do when you reach that level of hurt when the reality is you are tearing yourself apart?
I don’t know.
Each person is different.
But for me it was like an alcoholic hitting rock bottom.
You just decide you don’t want to live this way anymore where all you do is envy anyone with a remote piece of happiness and two cents to their name.
What triggered in me a desire to change was watching a then little girl in Washington County named Grace White play softball out at Idle Hour Park. She has multiple birth defects but there she was playing ball just like everyone else and having fun.
If Grace could have it so much worse than me starting as a kid and be happy then why couldn’t I be?
It was after that day in the park that I decided that I was going to be nice to everyone that I met. I was going to give a big warm smile to total strangers and say “Hi there!’
At first, I felt funny doing that. But I found out something really neat and fun for me to watch. If you look someone in the eye, give them a really big smile and speak friendly to them they will almost always smile as well and greet you back.
I found that this simple little act, which doesn’t cost a dime or take more than a couple of seconds to do, gave me a big boost each time I did it. It just doesn’t matter what the person looks like either. They can be short or tall, young or old, good looking or not, skinny or not, and any color of skin. All that really matters to me is getting a smile out of people. It’s like a booster shot of happiness.
I guess the end result is you really are as happy as you want to be no matter what your circumstances.
If that’s true, then you’ll be as happy as God meant you to be.
Take care my friend.
It’s still a beautiful world out there.