The first question took me to the kitchen where I made sticky buns and bathed in the aroma of cinnamon (see “Cinnamon Rolls” on this blog); the second led me to cupcake pops and the art of having fun (“To Lick or not to Lick?”). I’m ready to take my chances with the third: “Do you always feel inclined to write uplifting?” asks my friend Bonnie (windshieldthinking.wordpress.com). “Sometimes I enjoy the mire”, she adds, “getting dirty and then coming clean.” It’s tempting: I’ve written about the frightful nights of my childhood when my dad spanked me for waking the family up; about my mother’s fall into depression and dementia after his death; about the head injury that’s left me with balancing issues and PTSD; about my niece’s untimely passing. Why not publish and show the world how resentment, anger, and pain muster forgiveness, acceptance, and joy? Why not join the band of voices that comfort the world with their tales of trials and struggles?
Author Gretchen Rubin’s new book “The Happiness Project” was released a week ago. She decided while riding a bus that she could be a happier person and she set out to research how it could be done. She then did what is done these days: she blogged about it (happiness-project.com) and got published in print. As she practiced what she learned, she uncovered “Four Splendid Truths”. The second is my personal favorite: “One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; one of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.” Her fans enthusiastically agree: the book is currently number 6 on Amazon bestsellers’ list. Happiness projects are the hip New Year’s resolution.
As a wife and mother I know all there is to know about making others happy. Making myself happy is a work in progress but the one thing I know for sure is that revisiting the rainy days of my life only serves to keep me stranded in the darkness and is no recipe for happiness. Choosing to focus on what makes me come alive, on the other hand, fills me with warmth and excitement. When I breathe from that place –balmy and bright, like a day at the beach- my friends and family take notice and feel happier too. I call it “The Happiness Effect”.
The word ‘effect’ is defined as ‘the power to produce results’. (dictionary.com).This power comes from within and is activated by steeping goodness not by brewing mud. The much anticipated result is this: instead of simply enduring life’s many upheavals we slowly get the hang of dancing through the storm. Clouds are the signal to grab our shoes –equipped with non-slip ‘in-soul’. Rising winds tell us to start swinging to the rhythm of our happy memories. Lightning lights our path and thunder keeps the beat. When the hail comes, even though we’re drenched and cold, we manage to skip to the exciting part: we’re not alone. The maelstrom is attracting attention. As we take onlookers by the hand and spin in unison, they join the party and bring their friends. Once the storm passes we sit and bathe in the sun. We savor. We dream. We celebrate.
Yes, I always feel inclined to write uplifting. Because I believe in the mighty strength of optimism and hope. Because dancing through life is a lot more fun than drowning in quicksand. Because being happy makes me happy, which makes others happy, which keeps me happy!
Copyright – January 5, 2010