Yesterday we looked at why it is perfectly fine not to be happy all of the time. Today we are going to take a closer look at some specific emotions that a lot of us consider to be ‘bad’. To that end I recommend you read the quote that begins this article. In case you don’t wish to scroll up I will repeat it here.
“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” – William Shakespeare
When you think about this statement it is really true. What comes to mind is hand gestures we use while driving. You know the one when somebody cuts you off in traffic? Do you know they differ by country? As do the words one may choose to utter at such a moment. Whether they are considered ‘bad’ or not may depend on who is in the car with you.
What about all those pesky emotions? The ones nobody likes to feel. Angry, sad or lonely? Surely there cannot be anything good about those? Not so fast. What does it mean when you feel angry? That your boss is a jerk and has no respect for your fondness for relaxing and enjoying the sunshine just because you happen to be on the clock? Maybe, but let us look a little deeper at what these emotions are telling us.
When you experience pain in your body it tells you that something is wrong. You are not young enough to run a 5k race that fast, or don’t consume so much rum before using a hot stove. Painful emotions are the same thing for your spirit. When you are angry it is telling you that a standard you have for someone else, or even yourself, has not been met. Have you ever been angry at yourself? Sure, we all have. I can’t count the times I have said “Why did I do that?” This is a healthy sign. It can show us we need to convey what our standards are, or even just work harder to maintain them. If you are trying to get in shape but end up eating 2 Boston crème doughnuts from Meijer because they are sinfully good (purely a hypothetical example here) and you feel disappointed in yourself that is a good thing. That pain you are feeling will help you stay on track better next time.
Feeling lonely? That is a lack of connection. Maybe you need to work on developing your relationship with the person in the mirror better? Perhaps it is a sign to reach out to a friend who would love to hear from you? When you experience what normally is considered a negative emotion, look for the lesson. What is your spirit trying to tell you? Much like our example yesterday, sometimes having an off day can just help you appreciate the good days that much more. When a friend gives you some bad news, you feel bad. When that same friend calls you again and gives you good news you feel good. This is all part of life and it can all help make us better people.
I am the author of the book A Happy Life for Busy People and the creator of this motivational site. When I give my seminars on these subjects, and even on occasion in the men’s room, I am asked the question, “I’m not happy all of the time, what is wrong with me?” The short answer I give is “Not a damn thing.” To elaborate on that, let us examine what it would take to be happy all of the time and what the result of that would be.
First of all, in order to be happy all of the time you would have no challenges. You would be winning the lottery every day, you will be able to eat anything you like and stay fit. All of the people you meet would say and do exactly what you want them to do. The weather would be the perfect temperature every hour of every day. Sounds pretty good at first doesn’t it? In a short period of time one word would describe this situation – boring! If you knew who would win every sport you watched and how every movie would end how exciting would life be?
Let us look at the results of this situation. You would not be very smart. Why? You would never have to learn or evolve because you would have all the things you need. Your character would never grow and develop because everyone would have the same thoughts and opinions as you. Even your grass would be brown if it never rained.
When we set an expectation to be happy all of the time, we are, in fact, setting ourselves up for failure. It may sound cliché to say, but without the rain you do not appreciate the sunshine. ‘ Getting a flat tire on the way to work is never fun, but the next day when you make it all the way to work with no problems and suddenly that trip you took for granted everyday seems a lot better. Trust me I had a car that recently broke down in the middle of a busy intersection one block from my work. Now, every time I make it through that intersection without stalling out I feel grateful.
The most important thing about personal challenges is that they allow us to grow as people. We learn new ways to do things. We are forced to better ourselves just to keep up. Plus, it reminds us to enjoy and appreciate the good days we would otherwise take for granted.
It is ok to have an off day, everyone does. Life can throw us things we do not expect. When it does, learn to be grateful for the challenges. You are either going to learn, grow or just appreciate the good days when they return. Just know that being upset, sad, angry and all of the other host of ‘negative’ emotions we experience are all part of the plan to develop us into the person we are meant to become.
Here is the secret to having a life you love – fall in love with it. Easier said than done right? The secret to falling in love with life is the same as falling in love with a person. What do we do when we fall in love with a person? We notice all of the things that are great about them. When we encounter something we may not be crazy about, we shrug it off or use it to learn about them and increase our love. Often what happens to this love over the years is the burdens of life begin to stack on top of each other as do the upsets. Before long we begin to notice everything that upsets us about our partners. What we used to find cute or romantic becomes annoying and irritating.
The same can be said for life. As children, life is a great mystery. The years go by and so do the disappointments and heart breaks. Before long we become bitter. All we notice about life is what is wrong. Life becomes something to struggle through. How can we turn this around? The same tools we use in personal relations we can use with the most important person in our life, the one in the mirror. When we fall in love with our lives we are more fun to be around, we treat those around us better, we do our work with pride.
What exactly do we do to fall in love with our lives? How do we love our lives when we are in a relationship that we do not want to be in? When we have to go to a job we do not want to be at. When our health is not where we want it to be. We begin to find things about our life that we do love. It could be the color of the car that just drove by. Sure, we may like to have a better car ourselves, but we are not focusing on what we lack, but what we love. Do you love the look of the steakhouse you pass on the way home from work? Say so. Again, do not focus on the fact that you cannot afford to eat there as often as you like, just focus on what you love. As you go through the day, do you love that person’s outfit? That house on the corner of the block? Begin to notice these things and say to yourself “I love that house.” “I love the color of that car.” This may seem silly at first, but by doing so you begin to set fire to your enthusiasm. The very root of the word enthusiasm is the Greek word ‘enthousiasmos’ which means “divine inspiration, be inspired or possessed by God” You will begin to be possessed by the God inside of you. When you are in a great and enthusiastic mood you can overcome any challenge.
My friends, use this week to fall in love with your life. No matter what condition you face, there is always something about life to be grateful for and to love.
It is a little past noon as I write this. I’m sitting in Urban Joe’s, a quaint coffee shop in West Allis, Wisconsin where I live. Curtis, a very charming and congenial young man is working with his wife Danielle. It would seem to be the prefect Monday, with one exception – Las Vegas.
Last night was the deadliest shooting in US history. 58 innocent people lost their lives. People on the television as well as in the coffee shop are musing as to what the motive may be and how could this even happen. Questions you may be asking yourself.
Routinely I am asked if the world seems to be getting worse. We hear about terror attacks across the globe and right next door. The level of divide between people seems to be growing.
To me the answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. I believe, sadly, this sort of violence has been around nearly as long as mankind has. If we review the pages of history we can easily find examples of that. What has changed is the ‘closeness’ of the world. We can hear what happened across the globe seconds after it has transpired. We also hear about every incident. News that used to be relegated to the town it occurred in can now be viewed online by someone half way around the world.
There are two things I would like point out at this time. First is not to give in to the going of fear being pushed on us by the media. Let us not start treating each other with harshness based on judgements we have come to from world events. When we hear about certain groups of people perpetrating crimes it is easy to fall victim to the temptations to pass that judgement on to others who may belong to that group. The only way for us to overcome the social challenges that face us is through treating each other with love, respect and compassion. An “eye for an eye” mentality can only lead us to a blind world.
While we are on the subject of solutions, let us explore how we can help ourselves not feel overwhelmed by all the negative news we are exposed to. This is something I first wrote about in 2012 and several times sense. I refer to a story shared by one of my favorite philosophers, Mr. Fred Rodgers. He once shared a story of asking his mom about the negative news on the television. His mom gave him advice I think we could all use today. She told him, quite simply, “Look for the helpers.”
In the wake up both this tragic event, the recent hurricanes and earthquakes we have seen a flood of people rushing to help from across countries, to across the globe. These heroic efforts can get lost in the deluge of reporting on the Loss of property, lives and love for our fellow humanity. I encourage you to dig deep and read a few of these. See even in the darkest hours of humanity there are always beacons of light. Stay in love and light my friends.
Do me a favor, take out your cell phone and look up the definition of success. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Chances are it would look something like this. When it comes to the definition of success these defintions are, in a word, WRONG!!!
We live in a world that defines success in terms of the visceral if not material means. Any defintion of success, including the one by my mentor Earl Nightingale, that does not include enjoying the process or life is incomplete.
If we achieve all our goals and lose the love of family and friends we would not feel successful. If we are rich, but full of mental anguish would we be a success? I do not think so.
Remember that success is indeed “The progressive realization of a worthy ideal” as Mr. Nightingale said, but we must remember to find our happiness along the way as well.
Below you will find my latest article for Consumer Health Digest. A great idea inspired by my friend John. I encourage you to read it and let me know what you think.
This is one of this quotes I read and immediately had to step back take a breath and say “damn, this is a good one!” (This actually really happened)
Have you ever thought about this? Fear is an inside job. When you are young you are afraid of the dark. This usually passes unless you are some politicians, in which case it becomes being afraid of the light.
Why did this change? Something inside of you decided the dark was not that scary. Sure, you had influences from your parents and others assuring you that there was nothing to worry about, but ultimately you have to make that call.
Does this only hold true for children? Not at all. In fact, as a rule children are better at overcoming their fears than adults. Some of are afraid of dying, some public speaking still others are afraid of not being loved. Others say “when my time comes I’ll be ready. ” Some people can talk to anyone. I have heard people say, “If people don’t love me that is their loss.”
The difference is the meaning and inner conversation people have with themselves. In order for fear to continue to exist, we must continue to feed it. We do so by finding examples that back up our fears (in my case John Wayne Gacy was a clown) or continue to play mental movies in our head of worse case scenarios.
What it boils down to is that without our active participation, our fears simply could not exist.