Tuesday, February 25, 2014

On the Road to Happiness

From a Calvin and Hobbs Collection by Bill Watterson, "The Days Are Just Packed"

"I’ve been thinking of the question you posed on your blog, “What Makes You Happy?”.  It is an interesting thought because for a long time when people asked me what I wanted I would reply that I just wanted to be happy.  When I thought about it, it felt like happiness was kind of a fleeting thing so I decided that I just wanted to feel at peace.  That felt good for a while and recently I moved into the idea that I think we all just want to be loved.  I think I will be hanging out there for a long time.  I can’t think of what could be better than that."--Sue
Dear Readers,

As you can see, I am back on this blog, thank you for the visit. I'm grateful, too, that you have been thinking, and responding.  I've been blogging other places as well so I feel well blogged. This site, however, is my first love, so let's get going here...

For the last three installments I have asked the question, "What makes You Happy?" and realized that we have been seduced into believing that we ought to be happy. But, we might ask, what is happiness?  I like Abraham's take on it, that it is our natural right to live in JOY.  Joy/Happiness are they any different? It seems to me that JOY is that thrill we feel at sunrises and sunsets, at good music, and good wine,  joyful friends, good conversation, a loving relationship, a spiritual understanding, a run in the park with our dog, hiking in the wilderness, skiing, horseback riding, awe, ecstasy, achievable goals, a purpose, a dream, a few good challenges.  All that adds up to happiness. But being happy all the time. That is too great an expectation.

However, here is further input:

On The Road to Happiness: Don’t Worry, Stress Can be Good for You
We have all heard that stress is bad for our health. Well, it can be. According to Kelly McGonigal a Stanford psychologist, her eight years study of the high stress group showed that at the end of eight years 43% died.

But, and this is the key point: Only those who BELIEVED that stress was harmful to their health.

The high-stress subjects who didn’t believe stress was harmful had the lowest risk of dying of all the subjects.

Here is how it works. When you’re stressed, your heart pounds. Your breathing increases. You might even break into a sweat. Typically, we look at these responses as signs of anxiety.

Instead, Dr. McGonigal suggests you look at the typical stress responses as signs that your body is being energized. The pounding heart is preparing you for action. Faster breathing increases oxygen to your brain. Your body is preparing for the challenge ahead.

From a health standpoint, when you view stress as a health risk, your blood vessels constrict. It’s this constriction of blood vessels that can lead to heart disease. But when you take a positive perspective on stress, your blood vessels don’t constrict. They stay open.

Live long, stay healthy, prosper,

Monday, February 24, 2014

What Makes You Happy?

The Ice Tree over our back fence.
Look-it here, every branch is totally encased in ice.
Even  Kermit the Frog who rides on our car aerial, found himself in an ice bubble--still has a smile on his face though. From California to Oregon, the poor fellow must have had quite a shock.
What Makes Me Happy?
by Theda

What makes me happy?  


Why do most of us have such difficulty answering this question?  My guess is it's because our happiness changes as we change.  What brings joy seems to be very much dependent upon our perception at the moment.  That must be why we often see people thriving in conditions we might find deplorable - children playing ball among the rubble of a war zone and giggling joyously, a poverty-stricken family ecstatic over their first snowman, destitute lovers delighting in the simple gift of embrace.   


What is happiness really?  Pleasure, contentment, cheerfulness, ecstasy?  Surely my happiness today wouldn't hold the same ingredients or arise from the same circumstances as those that made me happy as a child, or when I was twenty, or even fifty.  Could the formula for happiness be as simple as dark chocolate?  For some of us that might just be the answer! 


So what is it honestly, right now this very moment, that makes me happy?  The amazing and brilliant gift of being alive in a body on this planet at this time and place.  However incredible it might seem, my present exuberant state of appreciation was born out of great suffering and loss.  


Losing my husband was like losing music - all harmony ceased - notes became noise, warping tones into a dizzying buzz around my head.  Suddenly everything beautiful safe and familiar, disappeared.  There was nothing left to grab ahold of.  My world had shattered into tiny pieces, color and sound sucked away, leaving a world of grays, devoid of meaning color or fragrance.  In one instance my entire reality melted into a confusing fog of despair so great I lost all will to go on living.  I truly felt as if I would never be happy again. 


Then the miracle . . . little by little, seemingly out of nowhere, the magic began to return, my sight restored.  The sunbeam glistening through the open window became a personal message from the divine, the breeze rustling through the tree became the whisper of my beloved, the bird perched on my windowsill signaled the perfection of my individual existence.  


One by one the signs materialized, each demonstrating and corroborating my own sacred connection.  The more I trusted, the more enchanting my world became.  Music returned.  The sky was never bluer, colors never brighter, melodies never sweeter than in this hallowed "now" moment.  I was a puppy romping on the beach, a child watching snow for the first time.  The world around me was transformed into a wise benevolent friend.  


True happiness reappeared as I recognized the hidden gift in every circumstance, the good in every experience.  Joy came with the awareness that everything is perfect as it is - all is exactly as it should be.  Just imagine, no matter what the universe chooses to place in our pathway, we have the opportunity to perceive it in any way we choose.  We can focus on the negative aspects or the positive.  We can turn each circumstance into a tragedy or a godsend.  It's all up to us.  


So what makes me happy?  Life!

Friday, February 7, 2014

What Makes You Happy?

What Makes You happy?


Climbing the stairs in San Francisco*
This topic of happiness sounded great at the onset, a challenge, fun, a basic right, “The pursuit of happiness.” Great. The more I thought about it, though, the more complicated it has become.
I found  within myself some basic need, some deep unresolved sadness, issues, something that I—and I’m sure others besides myself—have held for so long it has become a part of our being.  And so, how does one get rid of that?  Perhaps that is what Thoreau meant when he said, “Most men live lives of quiet discontent, and go to their graves with their song still within them.”

Today I slipped a CD into the truck recorder. The CD was a compilation of songs that Daughter Dear put together for her newborn nephew. There I heard Barbra Streisand belt-out, “Sing, Sing a Song.” Now you know that song belongs to  Kermit the Frog, the Muppet, but there it was, “Don’t worry if you’re not good enough for anyone else to hear, just sing, sing a song.” I would quote the whole thing, but there is copyright against that.

So l decided to keep writing, because that’s my song, and not worry if it’s good enough for anyone else to hear. I listened further: “I try to smile on the hour—it clears the brain,” sung by Dick Van Dyke (Bye Bye Birdie) “I love to laugh.” (Mary Poppins) “Suddenly Seymour.” (Little House of Horrors).

If anything expresses emotion better than song, I don’t know what it is. So I would say if you need a happiness boost, put a CD into the recorder.

*Well maybe watch a girl climbing stairs in San Francisco, it's almost music.

For a more pithy Joyce check out http://www.grannyshootsfromthehip.weeby.com