I couldn’t fit the Six Paths of Happiness in just one little post. There is a lot of ground to cover, but first, I just want to put something out there. I love dogs – I think that they are the most wonderful creatures in the world. As I mentioned before, I grew up with a special little friend – Rascal who was the cutest, sweetest, most loving, compassionate dog in the world. I’ll post a picture one day – you’ll see it in his big, brown eyes. According to “You Being Beautiful”, “Cats have very small frontal lobes so they tend not to be compassionate”. There you have it – proof that DOGS RULE. I guess I have met one or two nice kitties, but I’ll always favour Lady and the Tramp over the Aristocats. If you want to learn a thing or two about random acts of kindness, observe a dog. They do not judge or discriminate. They love unconditionally and without bounds. They aren’t concerned about material things – they care about making sure that their basic needs are met – food, shelter and love from their owner. Human beings can learn a lesson.
Now, back to business – there are still 3 more paths for me to follow before bed time and they are:
4. Embracing Emotion – When people say that they can’t control their emotions, this is sometimes true. While some people seem like a hot mess, others seem like a cold fish. Within the book, they don’t suggest suppressing emotion, rather “…pay attention to emotions and use them intelligently…for example…use empathy to help harness anger (…thinking that maybe the jerk at work has some home stresses that are causing him to be a jerk).” I am a mix of emotion and reason and I always have been. I can usually vent and feel better, I can take a bit of disappointment and in my workplace, if a client is upset, I don’t take it personally, because it’s usually directed at a situation, not at me. Where I find I’m more emotional is when a loved one is ill, sad or if I experience what I consider to be a loss of sorts. One day, almost two years ago, I was at someone’s apartment (we’ll call her JAY-ZEE-ESS) when she gave me some terrible news. I immediately started crying, even though for some strange reason, I had been expecting it. JAY-ZEE-ESS told me to stop crying “right now”. I didn’t, but did try to get ahold of myself. You see, I don’t cry very often, but when there is a good reason to, I often don’t stop. Usually I do it privately. I see nothing wrong with it – it’s natural. I’d rather express an emotion and move on, than hold it in. I see people who never speak up for themselves and it eats them up. When you can’t truly express emotion, especially with those closest to you, I think that’s where you become inauthentic blocking your path to happiness in multiple ways (finding authenticity is #3 on the path).
5. Exploring Spirituality – This is a tough one for me. I’m not spiritual or particularly religious. I respect religion and people who find comfort in faith and I am comfortable and happy with the culture of my religion. My issue is and always has been reason and logic over faith. To me, faith means believing in something that you can’t see and that is where my logical brain has an issue. During difficult times or times when I want something badly, I usually speak (internally) in generic terms to myself rather than a higher being. “You Being Beautiful” tries to answer the question of how can you learn to be spiritual with the following, ” …primarily through training your brain with transcendent experiences such as meditation or prayer – that is, altering your state of consciousness to focus on a sacred image or thought.” Oh boy – meditation, my favourite. I am going to give it a try in fact one of my monthly topics will include meditation since it’s such a big part of what Dr. Oz recommends. I can’t force myself to be spiritual in a traditional way, but I can try to improve myself by trying something that comes so highly recommended. You also can’t argue with something that relaxes so many people and has such a positive effect. Maybe through this, I’ll become spiritual in my own way – I’ll keep you posted.
6. Understanding Unhappiness – “Being happy means that you realize that there are times you will be unhappy and recognize that life sometimes stinks. What’s uplifting in those times is appreciating life and facing the challenges that come with it, realizing that you’re facing challenges fellow humans have always faced” (page 326, You Being Beautiful). AMEN BROTHER OZ! To me, truer words have never been spoken. This final point is what ties together all other points. I’ve heard and have been guilty of saying “things happen for a reason”. In some ways, perhaps they do or maybe it’s just our way of making lemonade out of lemons. I think a mostly positive person (nobody is perfect) will either try to make something good happen to balance out a negative experience. For example, one of my idols, Terry Fox, attempted his Marathon of Hope after losing his leg to cancer to raise awareness and funds for a cure. As many may remember, his run was tragically cut short when this extraordinary young man was diagnosed with lung cancer. Ironic – yes and cruel definitely. It also proved, that although things may happen for a reason, it’s also true on the flip side that sometimes bad things happen to very good people.
Interestingly, this passage also goes on to say that there is some benefit to experiencing a little bit of unhappiness since you are better prepared to deal with problems that may crop up. You think things through and gain wisdom and perspective. So true…and none of us would appreciate the highs that come with living if there weren’t some lows to go along with that. I had a job once where I was treated pretty poorly. Although I liked many people there, there were a couple of people who made my day to day life excruciating. This was my low – my high was, that I finally learned to speak up for myself instead of just complaining, I did something about it. I learned an adult lesson and I moved on. Some of the best advice I’ve ever been given has been when I’ve been unhappy about something. How about you can’t change people, only yourself, so you have to change how you deal with them? Classic and timely. Another great piece of advice is to live for now. We all put things off, whether it’s telling people how we feel about them (see embracing emotion), going on that dream vacation we’ve always wanted, or just living life to the fullest. I’ve tried to make time for experiences like travelling – that’s true happiness to me – every day is different and you experience moments that you’d never get to be a part of in your home town. Nobody can be happy if they feel that they are being instead of living – and maybe that’s a lesson for all of us. Living in the now is another lesson – none of us can change the past and you can’t control the future so living in the present is where happiness lies.