In recent days I am reading "The Joy of Living" by Orison Marden and the chapter that has caught my attention is called Happiness can be Cultivated.
I am so moved by this that I have pondered a lot about what he writes and am starting to put this into practice. I have already seen a difference. Let me share a bit with you.
Early on in the chapter Mr. Marden writes: One of the most difficult lessons of life is to learn that we are largely the product of our thought. This got me to thinking of the phrase I've heard "Change your thoughts and you change your life" and "Changed attitudes can aid recovery". Mr. Marden goes on to talk about how the brain CAN change. Even if we were brought up with "stinkin thinkin" as I like to call it, we can practice and choose to look for the positive or happiness in daily events.
It's hard, no doubt. But possible.
I love this thought that Mr Marden writes:
"It is a curious fact that most people think that while they are obliged to spend many years preparing for and developing a specialty in there careers, happiness, which means more to them than almost anything else, should be a haphazard development that it should come with practically no training, no special study, while everything else in life is worth while requires such infinite pains.
It is a great thing so to cultivate the art of happiness that we can get pleasure of the common experiences of every today. The happiness habit is just as necessary to our best welfare as the work habit or the honesty habit."
The habit of complaining, criticizing, grumbling, or wallowing is unfortunate. And while most naturally tend to lean on the negative, it is of great virtue to practice looking for the blessings and happiness in things.
Our hearts get lifted and before we know it, happiness is the product of our work.
Today, as I said, I am practicing this. We lost our beloved little dog Koda 2 weeks ago, and the same day my husband injured his back. Now, with my physical healing still and limits, this was a lot to take in. I found myself over tired, overwhelmed and sadness kept trying to take over. I found myself in sweats and wanting to give in to the sadness.
Then I read this chapter. Um, finding happiness?? In the loss of my dog, and my husband injuring his back (and I had to drive all the time for about a week). I struggled, so I turned to my husband and asked. How? How do you do this?
My husbands says "Well, Koda is not in pain anymore. He was very ready to go. And my back, well, I get the chance to live a much slower pace of life and give praise to God for the days when my back is great. There are many people who live with this."
I was stumped. Why couldn't I see that? So I have made it my work. To cultivate happiness.
Today I found I was in a lot of pain and wanted to stay in sweats all day. I did too much yesterday and my body is letting me know it. (Also learning to cultivate a slower pace of life) But as I lay there resting, all I could think of was a pact I made with myself. No sweats or lounge clothes from lunch on. No matter what. I am to get dressed and do something that makes me feel pretty.
Wow! What a shift in my thinking and attitude! I immediately got up, showered, dressed, did my hair, and even a spritz of my new favorite perfume. And with it I have been able to look for the happiness in my pain and discomfort.
|Making lunch for my husband and me.|
You see, in my change of clothes, my thinking started changing and rather than focus on what I can't do or how much pain I'm in, I have been practicing looking for what I can do. Like practice my new hobby of silk ribbon embroidery, or read the rest of this chapter, or sketch out some ideas of craft projects I am wanting to make, or even get the little crochet Easter baskets done for my grandkids.
|I see happy faces in the oddest places, but they always make me smile.|
We almost have a duty to ourselves, to our spouse, to our kids, but most of all to God to cultivate happiness. To find ways to chase off the negative and give Him praise for all His gifts.
I will close by this quote from Abraham Lincoln (who I have learned in recent years is a relative!)
"Most people are only as happy as they make up their minds to be"