April 05, 2018
Often it takes experiencing the dark to really appreciate the light. Early in life, I’ve had some horrible experiences… fortunately. I say that because If not for those dark moments, I’m not sure I’d appreciate the life I’ve created once I grew up and could control my own happiness. As a teen, I told myself: Life will be different once I have power. I guess I’ve manifested my destiny. And you know what I’ve learned? Being happy isn’t always easy. I think many people assume when they meet people who enjoy life that those people didn't work to get there and that everything has been a gentle ride up stream in a yacht, while sipping Champagne. Nah, some have worked hard to get there - focusing on what it is they WANT, deleting what they don't want.
In this society THAT'S not easy.
After years fighting, working, sweating to avoid what I don't want, while nurturing the good and positive that I DO want... I'll be damned to allow my hard-worked for happiness - a brilliant contrast to what I left behind; the yang to the old yin; the bright to the once gloomy - to fade away into beige.
Some WORK I’ve done toward happiness: * Avoid negative people, even deleting them if necessary. (With the exception of children) * Gravitate toward positive people, people who make me laugh, who listen, who give, who create vs their antithesis: those who don't listen, the takers, the destroyers, the soul suckers.
* Appreciate simple luxuries: a morning stretch, a juicy pear, sun on my skin on a cool day. * Stay curious * Focus on passions.
* Don’t put hope or faith in outside sources. Don’t wait for anything promised. If it happens – great! If not, already be moving forward.
* Don’t have huge expectations about future events, people, pretty much anything. Best way to avoid disappointment and be happily surprised. * Spend more time and money on experiences vs material items.
* Focus on things which make me happy: music, art, books, travel, nature, animals, good people who make me laugh, my own thoughts... * Limit electronic yammer: Ads for pharmaceuticals, fake food, fear-based products (insurance, etc.), and online arguments.
*Also, people watching is educational: Note those who live JOYfully and what they DO. As an observer of life, I’ve noticed more often than not people with a great attitude and passion for something, for anything, often have longer, more enjoyable lives. While I've heard thirty-somethings say, "Now that I'm old...," and then go on to blame their bad physical shape and low energy on their ancientness, I've met too many people beyond 90 who've shown me: You are old if you think you are. Recently, Nikki Kreuzer posted a video of 95-year-old Dick Van Dyke performing a cabaret number, slithering his hands and swerving his hips with ageless grace and energy. Years earlier, I spent a day with iconic LA photographer Julius Shulman at his 95th birthday celebration at the Getty Museum. After his lecture, people mingled, sipped cocktails - a rather stiff and stuffy affair. Then Julius came into the room with a huge smile on his face and eyes so alive they seemed to radiate electricity. Immediately the entire space buzzed with new vitality. Eventually, he got up to talk about the book he was workING on. Yes," ing", I-N-G, not past tense - but at the moment and in the future. The man was 95 and still excited about his work. I, too, find happiness in the I-N-Gs of life. From doING, beING in the moment, as much as possible. Talk about WORK. That’s not easy to still my brain of busy distracting thoughts, work needed to be done, worries - to live in the moment. I try to anticipate the future, while not dwelling in the past - a plane on another dimension, a place I once lived where I have NO control to change. It’s a land I visit in memory, but leave undisturbed. I do WORK at manifesting my destiny. So, as Yeats once said, “Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth, We are happy when we are growing.” William Butler Yeats Then I agree. I have grown. I am STILL growING. And that makes me happy.
By Michele Miles Gardiner
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