Today we have a guest post by one of my blogging buddies, Jennifer Boykin, who also happens to be the creator of a new site called “Life After Tampons.” Please show her some love and check out her site.
Three Choices Happy People Make
By Jennifer Boykin
Creator, Life After Tampons
Do you feel like Sisyphus? Every morning you drag your sad old bag of bones out of bed and get to work pushing your boulder of responsibilities and challenges uphill, only to have it come rolling back to the ground every night on your way home from work?
Or do you wake up more like the Duncan Donuts guy. Remember him? It’s always dark when he gets up. He shuffles around the house getting ready and muttering to himself, “Got to make the donuts. Got to make the donuts.” But then, he turns around at the counter of his shop and claps his hand with glee at all the donut buyers clamoring for his fresh Boston Creams!
It wasn’t all that long ago that I was certain I was doomed to a life of drudgery and unhappiness. Truly. If you had my problems, you’d be unhappy, too.
And then I would list my problems – my losses – for you. So you would HAVE TO AGREE that lasting happiness was just not going to happen for me. You might shake your head in sympathy, and then you’d get up and go about the business of enjoying your own life.
I wondered how you did it. Really, life just wasn’t fair. Of course I could be happy if I had your life. If my dad hadn’t left me (47 years ago!), my baby hadn’t died (20 years ago!) and blah and blah and blah and blah.
Certainly, there were times of great joy, particularly with respect to my three sons. But then something would happen and it would completely derail me and I would go all the way back to the beginning of the Loss List again, just like Sisyphus’ boulder.
But then, finally, MERCIFULLY, I figured it out. Happiness is a choice! Happiness is a DECISION! And even better, it’s MY decision. YOU get absolutely NO VOTE AT ALL in whether I get to be happy or not. What you do or don’t do, what you decide or don’t decide, how you behave or don’t behave, what you say or don’t say – absolutely none of it has any bearing at all on my happiness. (Further, since you get the same choice, I’m no longer for your happiness, either. What a relief that is!)
BUT – there is a CATCH.
And here it is:
Although the CONCEPT of happiness as a choice is simple to grasp, its IMPLEMENTATION is not.
In order to CHOOSE to be happy you MUST be willing to GIVE UP:
- YOUR STORY – This means that you no longer have permission to replay your unhappy memories over and over again. You also don’t get to share your woes repeatedly with friends. You might tell one or two friends about your CURRENT concerns, but then you move on. Instead of repeating unhappy ideas and memories, you insist on shouting out your joys.
- “Bright Shiny Object” Syndrome – This means that you don’t use spending as a way to numb your pain. Instead, you learn to “be comfortable being uncomfortable.” You develop the maturity to sit with discomfort because you have learned that it passes more quickly that way.
- Selfishness, for a Life of Service – When you extend yourself to others you learn that you always have something to give. When you help someone else, you forget about your troubles. When you focus on others instead of yourself, your problems become “right-sized.” You gain perspective and gratitude from helping others.
The sacrifice you make to be happy is your status as Chief Martyr of the Universe. To “get happy” you have to give up the “sugar high” of attention you get from your misery. Believe me, I’m the mother of a dead child – there are people in this world who would enable my unhappiness on this situation alone until I drew my last breath.
But my daughter’s story isn’t about loss. It’s about triumph. The miracle of Grace’s story is that ALL HEALING IS POSSIBLE. That’s the message of her life. That is her legacy.
And I have my own.
So, if you’re chronically unhappy see if you can’t make some better choices about what you focus on. Decide to be the Duncan Donuts guy and leave Sisyphus aside. Truly the world needs more donuts than martyrs anyway.
Jennifer Boykin’s vision is to “rebrand a gazillion crones.” She speaks, teaches, and writes as the Creative Visionary and Chief Rabble-Rouser of the MidLife Reinvention site, Life After Tampons. When you come and visit, don’t forget to sign up for your free/priceless home retreat, “21 Days. Reclaim the Sass!” Then, visit our Facebook and Twitter Wisdom Circles. We’d love to hear about your dream.