I wasn’t always so sunny and happy. People were always telling me to smile. I have noticed that my face will typically give me away and that when I’m lost in thought, which is often, it looks like I am angry. I’ve made it a point to watch this. I have also made it a point to watch my thoughts.
For much of my life insecurities and doubt have plagued me. I have hurt myself with negative messages that became my mantra that ran constantly inside my head. This made me miserable. My negative energy attracted even more negative energy from others. I struggled with not being understood but it never occurred to me at the time that I also needed to try to understand others.
I decided to be kind to myself and forgive myself for being so very imperfect. I thought I could change my inner dialog to something positive and I looked for the good in me and told myself good things about myself, even if I didn’t believe them. More importantly I took this same love and understanding that I was finding for myself and turned it outward. I made it my “job” to reach out and say something kind or supportive to people especially those who seldom hear that sort of thing. I made sure my compliments were honest and true. I learned that I could find something encouraging and positive to say to almost everyone.
Not that this is easy all the time for everyone. I am a naturally shy introvert. It has taken many baby steps to get to where I am today. I have tried to plant tiny seeds of sunshine wherever I go.
And more and more I find these seeds have sprouted.
By spreading the love it comes back, absolutely.
I don’t mean to sound trite or come off with some well worn out syrupy platitudes. I have heard people complain about the unauthenticness of the idea that thinking happy thoughts and that an attitude of gratitude is a cure-all. It is perfectly normal; healthy, in fact to have a wide range of emotions including sadness. Emotions are colors on a palate and life is art. We as artists can make our lives masterpieces when we use a full range of hues.
That being said:
I find touches dark blues, patches of deep purples and deep black hues to be in beautiful contrast to the soft pastels and sunny oranges and yellows, it is in that contrast that I find beauty in, but a little of those darker shades goes a long way. Life provides us enough of those. If I can, it is the sunshine I will spread. Makes me happier anyway.
I can make the conscious choice of letting the darkness that hits me in life stop at me. This is how I cope with the crap that hurts me; with my refusal pass it on.
I am so blessed.
So if I seem a little pollyannish or silly remember I didn’t start out that way and that really, no one can be blissfully happy all the time. Happiness requires the decision to be happy. Just the simple act of smiling is powerful magic in itself. Science has shown that the simple act of smiling can boost your mood, lower stress, boost your immune system and possibly even prolong your life.
I think to stay happy we need to spread that joy around like it’s the damn plague especially on those days when we do feel like crap.
So get out there and plague everyone you meet with joy.
Watch its boomerang effect come alive.
We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy.
We all engage in self talk. A running inner dialog that writes the script of our lives.
Seldom are we completely aware of just how influential we are on ourselves. We definitely live up to our own expectations. Positive or negative. Problems arise when insecure feelings begin to dominate the conversation. And rarely do we share these dark thoughts with others. They are hidden behind a wall of bravado we put up between each other. This causes us to see only the exaggerations put together by our imaginations not the full scope of reality.
Insecurities are kept in a secret place locked inside ourselves in that dark closet of pessimism, where fear lives. It is fear that leads us to lie to ourselves in the first place. Much of the negative crap that our own insecurities whisper to us is not accurate or realistic at all, but these hidden feelings do have a profound effect on our behavior. Only when we can forgive ourselves for not being perfect can we begin to rebuild and replace all that negative crap with good crap.
I liken a life to a garden. What grows in our garden is what has been planted.
The lives which we are living now are the result of our past actions and those past actions were the result of our past thoughts. The seeds we planted long ago are sprouting now.
We truly are what we have cultivated. We can thrive in a colorful vigorous and sunny garden or we can wallow in the dark. and it is that simple… of course surprises can spring up
Life is random and certainly not fair. We are subject to the whims of that randomness…
…and no matter what we do surprises can spring up…
Sometimes squirrels can dig up your tulip bulbs and plant them in your neighbors backyard…sometimes a spring hail shower can wreck havoc on your tender pansies. There have been times when a black cloud descended into my garden and left it cold and dark. There have been times when I thought that the sun would never shine again…
And then I found the sunshine within myself and lit up my garden with hope, faith and blind determination.
These are the times when we have to rely on that sort of sunshine to make our gardens grow.
…that’s why you need a good dose of it stored up in your pocket for a rainy day.
Determination: Yes. Work: Most certainly. Anything worth anything takes work and belief. That is your sunshine and nothing will shine without it.
Gratitude is like water. It nourishes life in our garden. It makes what grows grow. Without gratitude we will never find the happiness and contentment we seek.
Attitude. How we frame the picture we see.
What some may interpret as a raging storm can seem like a gentle shower watering a summer flower.
Seeds are the ideas we present to ourselves. We can plant what we want.
Being afraid; having social anxiety…the alien-ness I felt being on the autism spectrum…my alcoholism.. these were symptoms of a greater problem these were/are my challenges. I on instinct planted seeds to counteract the ones planted many years before which led me to feel so sad.
How do I do this? I change my inner dialogue. I forgave myself. I saw myself as a poor damaged thing that needed sympathy, love and understanding. I began to treat myself more kindly; I began to lie to myself but in a good, encouraging way.
I told myself wonderful things about me; things I didn’t believe. But I kept planting and counting.
I counted reasons to be grateful. I thanked God or the spirits that be. I thanked the universe for my good fortune. I embraced mindfulness and tried to enjoy every passing moment for what what it is without expectation. I found worthiness in contentment and strength in humbleness.
I wrote words like”optimistic” ,”happy”and “Yes” in bright colors and tapped them around the house.
I found solace in the colors of music and the sound of the rain.
I refused to be daunted by a reluctant sun so I made my own.
What began as a tiny spark has grown larger and my garden is growing with colorful, green, growing wild things.
I continue to plant seeds whenever I can. My garden is a work in progress. Always planting something, digging, weeding, taking it all in.
Despite changes and setbacks I am here to encourage other gardeners who may be discouraged. Maybe to make myself feel a bit better too.
As Ram Dass once said: We’re all just walking each other home.”
And I say that it’s damn good to have a friend to walk through the rain with.
Andy Warhol was famous for saying that in the future we will all have our 15 minutes of fame. Well my friends the future is now and many people are already famous inside their own heads.
I am talking about that phenomena that’s sweeping the globe:
A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone, digital camera or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.
I see more and more people doing this… MM calls it “selfing”.
And not just adorable little blondes with cutesy pink phones…people from all walks of life, actors, artists, men on the street, ladies of the evening, cats, babies and even presidents and leaders of people.
How did we get so obsessed with our own image?
The first selfies; born out of “necessity” for most of us. Since the advent of social media and as more and more of us are becoming social online we need a profile pic. It’s not something anyone really planned, it sort of just happened. We could blame Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook who thought of the world as one big yearbook with a sea of faces with which one could compare against each other and judge. The selfie does predate Facebook and MySpace, where the term was first generally used. Taking a photograph of oneself started with the invention of photography. It has only been lately that it has become an obsession for some, a joke to others. Whatever it is–it has become a part of our social landscape and our common global culture.
Speaking for myself; I took my first one in the Autumn of 2012. I “needed” an updated Gravatar for this very same blog. I was hesitant to ask anyone to take my picture because it sounded so weird and self-indulgent. ( Of course I am not one of those people.) I snapped a few shots myself with my webcam, it was so easy. We are humans and social media is a place of social interaction between us. Our faces convey so much to each other, so much emotion, feeling. Many of our electronic communications are littered with emoticons. Mere words cannot give the entire picture.
We have a need for each other. A need to meet others to express thoughts and ideas. To be understood. To reach out and make that connection. To share ourselves with others. Running the gambit of emotions; happiness to sadness and back again… from the amazing to the mundane. We have a need to belong and to be looked upon favorably by our peers. Selfies can be fun. Some are very inventive and creative. I don’t think they are necessarily a bad thing or a sign of the moral decay of our civilization and subsequent doom. I think they can be empowering for people and a way to boost self esteem. There are groups that embrace the idea of the selfie and encourage people to submit their own self portraits 365 days a year. I have explored some of the submitted images. Some of it is quite artistic; there are talented photographers out there snapping pics of themselves every day.
The internet has put so much of our lives on display for one another. This puts the viewer of such display in the judges seat. It is tempting for anyone to judge given some of what we see and it’s easy to assume some find themselves on the short end of the comparison. People’s opinions of each other unfortunately are swayed by appearance; the appearance of wealth, youth and good looks…the appearance of happiness….no one wants to look like a loser, or old or fat or bald or whatever. Simply put, we care what other think about us and this very human truism is being played out on a grand scale throughout the digital world.
We call them selfies, we take them of ourselves but do they truly reflect our real selves? I have seen quite a few of them and rarely are they realistic.
The selfie is a way for many to become the self they have always wanted to be. I googled “selfie fails” and found a plethora of examples of Photoshop gone wrong. Men and women with obviously unrealistic bodies and faces, freakishly thin waists, bulging chests and completely unlined faces. The pull is strong to want to doctor ones photos. I myself I am guilty of erasing a line or two here and there. Who doesn’t want to be younger; to look 25 again? Who doesn’t want the perfect body and the perfect life? We see them all the time…these people with the perfect everything.
The perfection hype we buy into is sold to us by the media. The Joneses we are struggling to keeping up with don’t even exist.
The perfect job, mate and kids, the perfect parties and friends. These people go on exciting and exotic vacations with all the other beautiful people living perfect lives. We know this because we see it in their selfies. The ones they are nice enough to share with us so we can “like” them and comment; tell them how wonderful they are and how young they really do look. All accompanied by smiley faces and hearts.
Isn’t life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?
And we like them every time they put up a new one, every week even if it’s every day. Some people change theirs constantly; living a life in front of the tiny screen. Every minor event documented and accompanied by the same needy almost pleading stare. Just like anything else selfies can be addictive and perhaps that in itself is a sign of trouble–a cry for help.
I also saw some other types of selfies on my googling adventure into this odd and narcissistic world. There were the funny ones, the amazing ones, the clever and cute ones, the silly duck faces and the ones with the bizarre backgrounds. But there were some sad ones as well. I was stricken by the number of photos taken by women, apparently mothers in bathrooms and other places with big mirrors posing for suggestive selfies in front of their small children.
I am a bit naive but this shocked me. It came off as desperate, so sad and lonely. And then I began to look at all the selfies in a different light. Maybe they are not just a sign of our collective narcissism and self-obsession, maybe there is something deeper; an underlying anxiety of separation, a feeling we are losing ourselves, the dissolution of the family unit. We are spending longer hours in the office, on the road, increasingly we are spending more and more time apart from each other.
We need to be accepted and understood. We need to be connected and have others think well of us. Unfortunately this need to be liked and accepted maybe envied or idolized has become an obsession for some.
And maybe…just maybe, if we can have the perfect selfie we can get a little piece of that perfect life too…
As with everything else; nothing is all black or white…
…points to ponder…
Have yourself a wonderful day!
“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”
“My feelings are too loud for words and too shy for the world.”
― Dejan Stojanovic
I have always been shy. There has never been a time in my life when I wasn’t to some degree or another. It’s not just that I don’t know what to say or how to say it, I am afraid to say anything at all.
It is embarrassing and what’s even more embarrassing is that it is so evident. You can’t hide shyness, it is tough to cover. The shy person may look like everyone else on the outside but on the inside he or she doesn’t feel the same.
I remember when I first started kindergarten at age 4. It was my first exposure to a large group of other kids and it was very odd and surreal to me. Everyone seemed so at ease with being themselves. They could move around gracefully whereas I was clumsy. They knew what to say, I never did. I couldn’t understand how they could know what to say.
This was so evident from the very first day. I didn’t understand. It was as if these other kids had been told how to act or if they just knew instinctively.
In my whole school “career” I never spoke up. I never raised my hand or even asked a question, not once. I would willingly take a lower grade in order to get out of public speaking.
All I could do was to try to blend into the background as best as I could. Most of the time it worked. At other times, it did not. From time to time some idiot would make it a point of drawing attention to me and my shyness by making stupid and sarcastic comments about it always within earshot of a crowd . This was horrible and it only drew me more inward.
As an adult shyness has held me back from life. I remember so many instances when I felt I needed to speak up, to say something but so many times I never did. I just let fate and circumstance dictate the direction of my life and to be brutally honest; I haven’t gone far.
Shyness has held me back in life. It has been an albatross around my neck and I want this to stop.
I am better today but it has taken a long time to get where I am now and I still have a long way to go…
Shyness is a prison. It holds its captive in a state of the perpetual outsider even with one’s own family. A shy person rarely makes friends with another, it is the other who must make friends first. For two mutual sufferers of this affliction to meet and later become friends is a very rare and beautiful occurrence indeed.
Often shyness is mistaken for indifference, aloofness and downright coldness. I know when it is happening and I can feel it. There seems to be a wall or some sort of invisible barrier between myself and everyone else. It’s as if it is written on my face, this social awkwardness. I suppose that is why I am telling you this painful embarrassing stuff about me. There is always that one in the crowd, the one that stands a bit a part from everyone else, the one who is always left out of the loop, the one thought unapproachable and unfriendly, may be a warm soul who would love to make a friend but just doesn’t know how. Shyness is not a choice. I do not choose to be this way. It has stunted my growth and my life and as I scramble to make up for lost time at 44 and I feel the need to call attention to the plight of the shy person.
So if you see one of us out there trying to blend into the background wearing an insecure scowl offer up a warm smile or a simple “hello”. This sort of thing spreads. Insecurity and shyness are often go hand and hand. If you see something wonderful in someone, tell them, perhaps they will recognize it too and eventually in time it will be they that say hello to you!
We all have own strengths and weaknesses, no one is perfect. It takes time to get to know someone but it is well worth that time. Shy, not shy…whatever. It is healthy to want to reach out, some of us just need a little help on what may come naturally to others. No one wants to be left out entirely. We are all human with human needs and wants including friends. That’s all.
Have an excellent day!
“If you’re an introvert, you also know that the bias against quiet can cause deep psychic pain. As a child you might have overheard your parents apologize for your shyness. Or at school you might have been prodded to come “out of your shell” -that noxious expression which fails to appreciate that some animals naturally carry shelter everywhere they go, and some humans are just the same.” ― Susan Cain
“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.”
― Charles Dickens
The light streams through the blinds and tickles my eyelids. I am slowly pulled from a nasty dream brought on by last night’s wicked storm. The faint melody of birdsong rouses me to full consciousness. I waken refreshed and renewed. With a slow lumbering yawn and cat-like stretch I move closer to the window. The streets are still wet with last nights revelry. They glitter and shine in the morning’s surprise sun.
The world seems fresh and new after a long rain. As the sun shines it graces everything with a wee bit of hopefulness. It’s as if the sky has had a good cry and is now sporting a beaming shiny bright smile.
I myself always feel good after a good cry. I suppose that is why it is called that: a good cry. I have always been the sensitive type; prone to cry easily and at times for what I will later deem silly reasons. I used to be ashamed of my sensitivity. I hid it well behind a veneer of fake indifference but now I am proud of my sensitive nature. I know I am far from the only one who feels the way I do.
Crying is basic. It is humbling and very human. It puts us in touch with our very basic of needs. It makes us vulnerable. It is generally thought of an activity of one who is sad but sometimes the act of crying can denote joy.
I have cried at the birth of both of my children. The first time this took me by surprise as tears of pure joy often do. I have also shed tears for the normal reasons of loss and rejection….misfortune, unfairness and at times simple frustration. I have wept at the loss of loved ones and upon witnessing the death of a tiny bird on my front steps.
Music makes me cry, certain songs do it every time. These I generally avoid, except on certain rare occasions.
I always feel better after I do. Crying is good for you.
And this is not just in my imagination. Many scientists agree with the theory that emotional crying is the body’s way of ridding itself of toxins and waste products that build up in times of elevated stress. The phrase “having a good cry” suggesting that the act can make one feel better physically and emotionally better is not far off the mark.
Crying is a great way to release pent up emotions, frustrations and stress. It restores the mind to a quieter place. Holding your emotions in can be dangerous over the long-term. In fact, research indicates that stifling emotional tears can cause elevated risk of heart disease and hypertension.
“In fact, three types of tears exist, all with different purposes. Basal tears are omnipresent in our eyes. These constant tears are what keep our eyes from drying out completely.
The second type is reflex tears, which serve to protect the human eye from harsh irritants such as smoke, onions or even a very strong, dusty wind.
Reflex tears are generally found to be about 98 percent water, whereas several chemicals are commonly present in emotional tears [Source: The Daily Journal. First is a protein called prolactin, which is also known to control breast milk production. Adrenocorticotropic hormones are also common and indicate high stress levels. The other chemical found in emotional tears is leucine-enkephalin, an endorphin that reduces pain and works to improve mood.
The third type of tears is emotional tears. It all starts in the cerebrum where sadness is registered. The endocrine system is then triggered to release hormones to the ocular area, which then causes tears to form. Emotional tears are common among people who see Bambi’s mother die or who suffer personal losses.”
*Courtesy of HowStuffWorks.com
I think society treats males unfairly when it comes to the issue of crying and emotions in general. It is crazy, nonproductive and downright unrealistic to think that boys and men do not have feelings. Men may deny they have them to each other but we mothers and wives and sisters know better.
Having emotions are not exclusive to one gender but showing and sharing them is. In most societies, tears in men are seldom acceptable. Boys learn early on it’s not kosher to show emotion, as it is considered a weakness and thus they grow up to be men who are cut off from expressing emotions of grief that can help them heal from emotional wounds. Anger becomes the preferred emotion because it is considered to be more “male”. (I don’t need to tell anyone how that is all working out.)
We as a people are in constant change. We have evolved and adapted to our circumstances. I do think we as a species are on the road to enlightenment but is a long one. Despite the harshness of the state of the world and apparent accelerating violence everywhere, I do believe that on a one-to-one individual basis people are growing kinder, gentler and more tolerant. In my own experience living on this planet for 44 years I have noticed this trend and it is encouraging. The acceptance of the showing of emotion is just one aspect of this shift.
“Those who do not weep, do not see.”
“Some people say, “Never let them see you cry.” I say, if you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.”
― Tina Fey
Haha….got you with the title didn’t I? I’d like to think I fooled you but I know you are too smart for that, but it did get your attention did it not? I’m not above cheap theatrics; I’ll freely admit, but I do have a bit to say on this subject because there are many who do fall for this sort of nonsense all the time.
The quick and the easy
People want big results with little or no work. It’s an American thing, this instant gratification. Pair it with another very American thing; our fixation on looks, endless youth and vitality. We are talking some serious stars and stripes here.
We are a nation obsessed with health or at the least the appearance of health. People want others to think they are really healthier and more together than they really are. We have this desperate need to show others what a full life we are leading, jam packed with triumph, success and over-the-top uniquely unique experiences.
What trumps being perfect is at least looking perfect….and we are a self loathing society. 33.3 % of Americans are overweight and 35.9% percent are considered obese. Our ideal of beauty does not configure to the perfection that most of us can never live up to.
This is not to say that being overweight is not a health hazard, it is, but there are a number of other factors that contribute to good health and beauty for that matter than just what is considered the ideal weight and shape.
I have spent most of my life hung up on my weight. Starting with my first diet at the age of 9, continuing on through my teenage years and then onward into my adulthood. I was caught up in the angst of weight worry and denial. Following one crazy dieting idea after another. Denying myself and denying in general that the way I was going about it was well, stupid and all so wrong. I once spent two years of my life, two years..denying myself ice cream, yes ice cream!
Like so many others my self-worth was hung up on body image. I would compare myself to the ideal airbrushed “perfection” the media feeds us all. Of course I could never come close. No one can.
There are a million promises from a million sources who will tell you they are the ones with the secret to slim perfection. Just promise to pay the shipping and handling and it will be sent out immediately. One thing these empty promises provide is at the most, false hope with none of the hard work or willpower that accompanies eating a sensible diet, getting regular moderate exercise, time and patience. Nothing is easy and nothing is free. (except for love)
Sometimes there is temporary success but these fad diets and insensible lifestyles are difficult to keep up. It is easy to feel like a failure. It is also quite common for let-down people to comfort themselves with food and overindulging,…the very activity that is a major culprit in weight gain.
It’s big business; The health and weight loss industry. Add the beauty and fashion industry and you have a powerful bloc of economic players and reapers of piles and piles of big money. These companies get richer while we get more unhealthy.
They play on our fears and insecurities; pointing out what we “lack” and selling us a bottle of the stuff. Let’s stop buying it.
Tell them to keep it and let it rot on the shelves until they see that there is nothing lacking in us– it is they who lack. They lack the obvious; they cannot see the beauty that is inside us all. What a shame is that. Let us not be manipulated any longer…
We are all beautiful. Damn what they say, that media which feeds us stale perfection for us to consume.
YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!
YOU are a beautiful being. Believe this. Know it.
Some people have a spark; a special something that transcends the physical. It is the belief in oneself.
What matters is one’s inside. It is the light of the soul and the love in the heart.
Beauty has a way of shining through.
Beauty is kindness and compassion. Beauty is strength and resilience. Beauty is devotion and gentleness. Beauty is quiet. It doesn’t declare itself it.
I came across a picture today. It was a drawing made by a someone I don’t know. I saw it online, I think it was in my Facebook inbox. The artist’s name is written in the side. It is basic but genuine and to me conveys the most achingly beautiful sentiment.
and it sparked something…
I will sometimes get an idea for a post, but I won’t know actually how it will turn out. It starts with a message I want to convey, whether it be simple or complex. Sometimes it can take days, weeks, months even. it just rolls around in that crazy head of mine waiting for something… a spark? Something to give it life. Incidences will happen; little things, really of no significance but then one day–wham! It all fits together. This picture was a catalyst.
We share a collective consciousness. The good, the bad, the everything contained therein.
The best and worst of us is inside us all. We share so much. One important need is to give and receive love. We are an empathetic species that thrives on mutual understanding and cooperation. We need togetherness.
Newborn babies can die if denied love, it is ingrained in us, the need to reach out and be held. It is a basic and human need we first receive usually from our mothers and fathers. And it this need to touch to be touched lasts through our lifetimes. It is beyond sexual desire which in itself is powerful. It is grounding, it is humbling and uplifting.
The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. Hugging relaxes muscles; releasing tension in the body. They can take away pain and soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues. Hugs balance out the nervous system and boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.
“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”
~ Virginia Satir
Hugs are wonderful. They are warm and innocent expressions of affection. To me hugs are magical events.
They are hopeful. They are happy. They spread happiness.
We have a human need to be wanted and valued and accepted. A hug is a demonstration of that.
There is much to be said about the power of a hug. I have noticed a trend as of these last few years of people with signs giving out free ones. It is a novel thing. it creates a bit of a spectacle and maybe it isn’t all that serious but it does make people happy. and it sends out a terrific message.
I have noticed with the passage of time that hugs are becoming more freely given and socially acceptable. When I was a child one rarely would see two men hug, these days it is commonplace. This is a wonderful thing.
It is such a wonderful thing and so is a kind word, a pat on the back and a smile.
Sometimes we don’t know the burden another may be carrying and cannot fathom how one simple act of encouragement from someone; a stranger even and what sort of positive impact that it can have.
If we all made a point of doing this; reaching out to others even sometimes going the extra mile to tell another person you care; whether it’s just an ear to listen. Sometimes all people need is a release; someone to talk to and a little sympathy. Sometimes it is a stranger, a person you will never encounter again, this does not lessen the quality of the interaction. Every positive interaction we have with another person makes them feel good and makes us feel good. it’s all good!
And just like rabbits these positive interactions spread and before you know it the room is of full of rabbits.
Try it you’ll like it. Hug someone today.
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ― Albert Einstein