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.
The wilds touch my back door. A part of them does anyway. Strangeish insects and unfamiliar Corvids enliven the “wilds”of my new backyard. Tall skinny Evergreens surrounded by persistent English ivy. Small deciduous trees that await new spring leaves dot the landscape accented by bright green moss providing splashes of color that reminds me that spring really truly here.
A tiny brook babbles on by fifteen feet below. I can hear frogs in the morning and the friendly neighbor’s cat comes to greet me in the bright but cool sunshine. I am beginning to attune to my new atmosphere.
It is different here but I find much beauty in this newness.
I am now an apartment dweller. My big yard has been replaced by this woodsy spot with two cement slabs and the before-mentioned surrounding moss which will now serve as my garden area. I have three large pots, empty for now. I will certainly get more. Out of the thousands of plants in my old yard I brought only one; the meadow rue. It lies dormant under the soil in an indigo planter awaiting warmer weather. It wasn’t a choice I wanted to make but in order to make a new life for oneself one must put aside the old.
I have done a lot of that lately; setting aside.
After a 17 year relationship I parted ways with someone who wasn’t good for me. My trusting nature and naivety paired with my wholehearted belief in redemption kept this damaging storm rolling much too long despite the, obvious to others, unhappiness it was bringing me. When living inside the eye of the hurricane; the epicenter of emotional and psychological abuse, you can’t see how bad it really is. Over time the abnormal can become the normal.
And a deep sadness can embed itself in you and you don’t realize how awful it really is in part because if you stop and do this it will break your heart and maybe you can’t go on. And so I put what I thought was a convincing happy face to the word and went on. Inside a hole grew and grew and in time, by the end of those 17 years, it was a giant gaping hole…a chunk torn out of me and beat to hell.
My yard which was in it’s entirety what I deemed my salvation would have to be left behind. My cats too. Spotsy and my Mario would stay with the house and the yard and it’s owner. I left with my two kids ( 18 and 21 ) to go live in an apartment across town. A new place of sanctuary. A place of freedom with my name on the lease.
It’s different but it is becoming home. Home is really in the people you are with not the place anyway.
I was fortunate to meet someone at work. An amazing person I knew that I knew the instant we met. I have been having the pleasure of getting to know him ever since. We all live together in this apartment that skirts the edge of this thin strip of urban woods.
There is a freeway that lies beyond it. I can hear the traffic, its steady hum sounds like the ocean to me, it is easy to drift to sleep to.
I feel free and happy and loved. I feel confident and hopeful, more than ever.
The hole in my soul is filled, love pours out and spills out into the world. I am grateful. I thank God everyday. I am blessed beyond measure. I have the opportunity to start anew and this I will do, This I am doing.
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
Fortunate happenstance perhaps…good things coming by chance..happy accidents…
What is serendipity and where can I get some of that potent elixir?
Serendipity is the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
Life is a fast paced, whirlwind of a trip with plot twists and turns, unexpected snippets of senselessness tempered with semi-predictable outcomes. I say semi-predictable because I am of the philosophy that we make our own destiny and that destiny certainly make us. We can prepare for and harness both what we can and cannot control to our best advantage.
It was Norman Vincent Peale who inspired us all in his wildly popular “The Power of Positive Thinking”
I have read this classic at least a decade ago. And it inspired me. Many truths are contained within the pages of books. Peale explains in this book that our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate.” I have taken this advice to heart…or mind, so to speak. What we see and what we believe creates our reality. Appreciation is key and what we think about what we already have taints whatever we encounter. I never was always so positive as I am now. I’ve spent a great part of my life as a sarcastic cynic who believed that if I never believed in anything or anyone that I would never be let down. I was ever wary, I had “seen it all” I expected the negative and had no problem finding it.
I realized that if I wanted to change my life I would have to change myself and my outlook. And I decided to believe in all this, what I thought at the time was crazy mumbo jumbo because I really had nothing to lose.
We can recite platitudes, embracing their meaning but not truly believing in them. A lot of this stuff makes for excellent sound bites. We can sound cool and enlightened to our friends. I known people like this who seemed to have something to prove by reciting every guru and free thinking wise person from Buddha to John Lennon. Words can inspire but it’s what we do with that inspiration..
Serendipity is such a word. It is inspiring, yes….
I realize what I am saying may be construed as sounding too Pollyannaish or too easy. Real life is not like that. I know firsthand how damn ironically unfair it can be. I have found myself many times awestruck at life’s ironic unfairness. I could venture to say that a sense of humor helps but sometimes in life nothing seems to work and all the good thoughts and positive actions in the world cannot change that…
Ever have one of those days that start out horrid and end up atrocious? No matter how well intentioned and positive you are, you can’t win them all, no one can. That seems like a worthless platitude that doesn’t make anyone feel better. Truly it is only ourselves that can allow us to feel better.
Through our actions and reactions to events and nonevents we scatter seeds. Some get rooted deep in the ground long forgotten and some of those can seemingly out of nowhere erupt out of the ground and grow into something wonderful. It comes as such a surprise one can almost trip over it’s fantasticalness.
Serendipity isn’t what we find. It is not simply some pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We can engineer serendipity by making something out of what we find, knowing this and then expecting to find it in the first place.
I could venture to say that positive thinking borders on the magical but it is not magic.
I think we can and do encourage serendipity by the choices we make, by our attitudes and by the way we treat others. Put good out there in the world and with patience it will come back on you. Never stop believing, never stop putting your best possible foot forward.
I have seen people with good intentions try positive thinking and abandon it far too early expecting instant results. It doesn’t work that way.
Life runs in cycles, it ebbs and flows, no matter positive you are bad shit is going to happen to you. Conversely, so is the good shit, the trick is to learn from the bad and don’t take the good for granted…or too seriously. Goods things often take more than the power of positive thinking, no matter how powerful. Hard work, perseverance and time with a pinch of luck makes the cake and when that’s topped with creamy optimism, the combination tastes like sweet success.
“Cultivate the art of maximizing serendipitous opportunities.” ― Gina Greenlee
“Success is three parts hard work and one part serendipity; this serendipity is a direct result of the other three parts of hard work.” ― Ken Poirot
“The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.”
― Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking
The words of Hafiz: How they enchant. They move, they writhe and wiggle up and down from right to left; dancing like crazy….inspiring me like crazy… Hafiz is another one of my favorite poets. Never mind he wrote these words in the 1300’s. They are timeless, ideas even more so. Translation adds a twist to these quotes. Daniel Ladinsky does a superb job. It’s hard to tell how much of himself he adds to the text. I concentrate more on the pleasure of reading and the places my thoughts travel to, invoked by the ideas, the whimsy and the thoughtfulness.
LOVE is always inspiring. Poetry lends the power of words and ideas and Hafiz adds the magic. Enjoy!
The following quotes are by Hafiz
Your heart and my heart are very, very old friends
I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.
You carry all the ingredients
To turn your existence into joy
“I caught the happy virus last night When I was out singing beneath the stars. It is remarkably contagious – So kiss me.”
Love sometimes wants to do us a great favor: hold us upside down and shake all the nonsense out.
Your love Should never be offered to the mouth of a Stranger, Only to someone Who has the valor and daring To cut pieces of their soul off with a knife Then weave them into a blanket To protect you.
The tide of my love Has risen so high let me flood over
How did the rose Ever open its heart And give to this world All its beauty? It felt the encouragement of light Against its being, Otherwise, We all remain Too frightened.
Let us be like
Two falling stars in the day sky.
Let no one know of our sublime beauty
As we hold hands with God
Into a sacred existence that defies –
Every description of ecstasy
Hafiz (also spelled Hafez), whose given name was Shams-ud-din Muhammad, was one of the greatest of Persia’s mystical and lyrical Sufi poets. He was born in Shiraz in southeast Persia (modern Iran) c. 1320 and died c. 1389. He is affectionately known as “The Tongue of the Invisible”. His poems were artfully translated and interpreted by American poet Daniel Ladinsky.
References and Related Articles and Recommended Reading
There’s much to be said for the way we look at things. Our vision is tempered by what we expect to see. Look for ugliness and you’ll find it, the same goes for beauty for both can be found in everything. It is the way we look at things which control what we see and how we see it.
We create our own reality. I know how that sounds; like some metaphysical mumbo~jumbo that seems profound and wise but an idea that some of us may find difficult to grasp, myself included. Real life is the reality we live with every day. It can be cold and hard and can smack one right in the face.
If I had control of all reality…seriously…I would eradicate war, hunger and poverty, mean people and bad hair days too..all that stuff. Most of us would but that does not make it so. We can see the state of the world. Who wants that? It’s so overwhelming and beyond anyone’s power and control but we can control some things.
And that is where the magic comes in…
Yes…back on the magic. I realize you are sophisticated and have a certain sense of the world that is pretty much on target. I like to think of myself as an open-minded sort who is tempered with a fair amount of skepticism. I want to believe in Santa Claus and in unicorns and elves and giant talking trees. Do I really, truly believe? Perhaps not, but am I certain? Can I be 100%certain of anything?
Any minute now my knight in shining armor will pop up riding a unicorn and whisk me away from my life of drudgery.
Not likely…but I do contend there is magic. This I know for sure.
Magic exists! I know for I have seen it. It is all around us.
“It’s all a matter of paying attention, being awake in the present moment, and not expecting a huge payoff. The magic in this world seems to work in whispers and small kindnesses.” ― Charles de Lint
LOVEis magic…so is gratitude.
Attitude is everything: We choose how we feel; happiness is a choice and so is dissatisfaction. Pretty much we are as happy as we make up our minds to be. I have found this to be true after much trial and error. There was a point in my life a few years back when I very much needed this to be true…
..and so on blind faith born of desperation I believed. I willed myself to believe and I didn’t stop despite all my wishes not coming true. I learned that my happiness cannot be based on outside forces. I had to stop reacting to life and start acting. My challenges gave me an insight I wouldn’t have had before; an appreciation for perseverance. A willingness to go the extra mile without a promise of reward, the strength to carry on despite it all….and through all this I believed.
I am learning that the most direct way we create our own reality is by our own actions. Action powers everything we do, everything we create, we are responsible for the kind of world we live in–all of us.
We can have a world where magic exists, we just need to create it.
Ifound happiness in gratitude and in taking pleasure in tiny things. Oh what a joy this has given me! It is a gift granted to me by circumstance.
We can embrace these wonderfully human and magical traits like love and compassion, generosity, altruism and understanding. We can reach out to each other in friendship, our minds and hearts open. We need to stop paying attention to what we are told to think and believe and learn to trust in our own hearts and our own souls again.
These are natural inclinations. Bring these into your life and miracles happen…
Magic happens…and it’s contagious.
Have a magical day!
“When you’re touched by magic, nothing’s ever quite the same again. What really makes me sad is all those people who never have the chance to know that touch. They’re too busy, or they just don’t hold with make-believe, so they shut the door without really knowing it was there to be opened in the first place.” ― Charles de Lint
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast”
― Lewis Carroll
Have you ever allowed yourself to be caught up in flights of fancy? Do you savor spontaneous moments, taking delight in the quaint and unusual? Then perhaps you have partaken of the sweet nectar called whimsy.
I partake quite often as it seems; my thirst is seldom sated. I suppose at times just plain reality can get boring and it certainly gets less stressful having somewhere fun in my imagination to wander to. This is helpful to me. I like to taste each tiny bit of delightfulness that comes my way….fortunately there is a tremendous amount in this world to delight in. I often find that it is in the small and mundane moments where I can find these sweet little pockets of joy. I believe there are deep veins of happiness out there….or in there just waiting to be discovered and appreciated.
Just the other day while I was singing along to the radio and washing the dishes my cat spontaneously jumps up and sits on the edge of the sink. He gazes up at me with an earnest intentness seldom seen in cats, at least that is what I imagine it is as I gaze back into those big green eyes. He doesn’t seem to notice the water droplets misting his black coat. I call him a crazy cat like I do in my sing-song childlike voice I reserve for animals and babies. I am delighting in the ridiculousness of the moment when MM comes in…the look on his face was priceless…this makes me laugh.
On certain afternoons in sunny spring I have been known to go down to the nearby park for a swing, stopping to smell the roses. I often talk to the urban animals I meet along my way, the crows especially since they tend to answer me back with caw caw but squirrels and cats and other birds too are also fun to talk to. Thinking about it; I talk to plants as well, trees mostly. They are really quite friendly and so knowledgeable too.
To the outside observer I may seem to have lost my marbles but his is how I keep my marbles intact: through whimsy and imagination.
I will at times travel to various exotic locations in impromptu flight of fancy. These turn out to be for the most part: sandy beaches and enchanted forests and luxury hotel suites with excellent room service, great deserts and fantastic views…as these are the places my imagination prefers.
Your imagination probably takes you to different spots, some very interesting ones I bet….
Whimsy is a natural high and it’s free. It lives inside us all. It cavorts with the inner child in the recesses of the imagination. Whimsy is kinda’ bummed out that it isn’t given the respect that it’s due. One could argue as to the needlessness of whimsy but I contend that it is that very needlessness of whimsy that causes it to be important. It doesn’t take much to spare a little room for the unnecessary, whimsy included…in fact whimsy is so light and fluffy it hardly takes up any room at all.
Whimsy not only feels good, it can make those around us feel good too. Most of us can relate to the absurd from time to time. Children love it. We adults tend to put that sort of thing aside for more mature pursuits and poor old whimsy is locked in the back of the closet never to be shown the light of day again. I think a lot people are fearful of looking like a fool or insane. Society generally frowns on the eccentric. Instead of caving to societal pressure I am taking this as a sign that I should embrace my eccentricities more fully and more publicly. The more of us “crazies” out there, the more acceptable it will to become to be one.
It is up to us mavericks to set the tone and say to the world: It’s okay to be silly, in fact it’s amazingly fun… and dammit why lose out on all the fun because one enters into the dreaded “adulthood”? The act of fancifulness is sometimes seen as irresponsible. The world needs dreamers to dream the dreams that show us that reality is not always what we see and it really doesn’t have to be. Reality is what we make of it.
Wishing you a really fantastical day!
“Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.”
― Anaïs Nin
I am glad to be here; to have a go at it. I am thankful for my body. For eyes that see blue skies and my daughter’s beautiful face. For ears that hear birdsong, soulful breathtaking music and the simple but profound words; ” I love you.” For hands that write poems and plant seeds and make cheesecake. For a brain to take it all in.
I am thankful for friends and family…for LOVE ♥
For peace and understanding, patience and tolerance and for generous hearts and kind souls.
I am thankful for good people who do great things, for smiles and ice cream…for chocolate.
I am thankful for our fantastic planet. For apple trees and hummingbirds and summertime. For cats and mocha lattes with extra whipped cream. I am thankful for the scent of roses and a newly mowed lawn, for thunderstorms and fireplaces. For kisses and sandy beaches…for oceans and sunsets.
I am thankful for happy thoughts and good intentions, for opportunity and hope. For dreams and the tenacity to live them out.
I am thankful to be able to share all these happy things with such wonderful people…like YOU…
I am thankful I have another day of life in which to appreciate and to know that this is
THE KEY TO HAPPINESS
There have been times in my life I found myself waiting to be happy; waiting for this or that to happen. I’ve found that I don’t need a turkey to tell me to be grateful and everything doesn’t have to be perfect. There is so much in this incredible world to be thankful for…and I am thankful for that.
What are You thankful for? Let me know?
“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”