Tune Into Happiness

I am so glad Christmas is over.  Yes, I know there is a reason for the season, but for a guy that’s never been married and no kids, it’s a great time to be sorry for yourself.  This year was no different.  Tons of get togethers with the friends you only see this time of the year, letting you know how great their lives are and reminding you how shitty yours is – “Hey Screedler, still sober – wow good job – never thought you’d make it!” , actually they never said that, but that’s what I imagine they are thinking.  Hell, half the reason I go is so I don’t sit at home imagining what they are saying about me – “Poor Screedler, he must be in jail again, dude can’t hang any more – poor fellow”.  Then there is all the fracking busy work of getting presents for people just for the sake of getting presents so I don’t look like a scrooge and don’t get me started on how miserable working in a grocery store can be this time of year.

And you though a post about the Peanuts was heart warming.  I just didn’t want to post this and remind you of how you too may have felt as a person in recovery.  But, I am today – so there – just getting real and letting off some steam.

But today I had an epiphany of sorts, one that I am sure will last at least until the biblical one next week.  Due to some minor criticisms with my department,  I was asked to visit some of our other stores to see how they managed their produce departments.

I met this young man named Bart. The happiest person I’ve met in a long time – and he’s famous in that small town for being happy.

Bart reminded me of an article I read over at Tiny Buddha, and that I need to change my “stinkin thinkin” – and change it now. The past is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is called the present because it is a gift! – Kung Fu Panda*

Excerpts from the article linked above:

The way I feel about myself; how much I open myself to new people and experiences; how often I choose to smile simply because it feels good. None of these things depend on my life situation. Colorful shirt guy knows that. I suspect he knows these things, too:

1. Enjoying the present moment is a habit that takes practice. If you always look toward tomorrow for happiness, odds are you will do the same when you attain what you’ve been dreaming of. As strange it sounds, the ability to appreciate what’s in front of you has nothing to do with what you actually have. It’s more about how you measure the good things in your life at any given time.

Practice wanting what you have and it will feel even sweeter when you eventually have what you want. Look around-what’s in front of you that can enjoy?

4. Consistent, long-term happiness depends on your ability to notice and appreciate the details; you can hone that skill right now. Once you get everything you want, you will still be subject to life’s highs and lows. If you haven’t learned to enjoy the little things, your well-being will parallel your life’s circumstances. Every time something goes wrong, you’ll feel deeply unhappy (as opposed to disappointed but determined to make the best of things).

Think about the things that fill you with the most joy-spending time with your pets, listening to the rain, and running on the beach, for example. Focus on those things right now, and let them brighten your day. That way, no matter what changes, you’ll have a variety of simple pleasures to help you through.

5. Every day is a new opportunity to be better than yesterday; that pursuit can increase your self esteem and, accordingly, your happiness. I used to be obsessed with being perfect. If I wasn’t the best at something, I couldn’t sleep at night. Becoming great never felt as good as I imagined it would because there was always room to be better. I was constantly dissatisfied and disappointed in myself.

I now look at the things I do as opportunities to get better from one day to the next. It’s more satisfying to set and meet an attainable goal, like focusing better and writing an extra article tomorrow, than it is to obsess about perfection, stressing because I’m not a world-famous author.

By focusing on small improvements and mini-goals, you’ll naturally move yourself toward your larger dreams. And you’ll respect the way you’re doing things.

6. You can be who you want to be right now, no matter what your situation looks like. You may think life needs to change dramatically for you to be the person you want to be. That you can’t be giving unless you make more money. Or you can’t be adventurous until you sell your house. The truth is you can be those things at any point in time.

So you don’t have money to share. Be generous with your compassion, and listen when your friends have problems. So your house hasn’t sold, pinning you in one place. Create adventure in your day by trying new things and introducing yourself to new people.

You never know when your nows will run out-so ask yourself, “How can I be that person I want to be in this moment?”

7. Finding joy in the present moment-no matter how inadequate it may seem-makes a difference in other people’s lives. Though we all have different lists of dreams and goals, for most of us this is at the forefront : the possibility of living a meaningful life that affects other people for the better.

Happiness is a moment-to-moment choice, one that many have a hard time making. Other people will notice if you make that choice. And you will motivate them to do the same. As the research above indicates, this motivation has a substantial impact on their health and future happiness.

I know this isn’t your usual reasons-to-be-happy post. It didn’t start or end with “count your blessings” and I didn’t delve into your relationships or good fortune. There’s a very good reason for that.

I don’t think happiness is so much about what you have. What you have changes; your “blessings” evolve. Happiness is about how you interpret what’s in front of you. How proud you are of the way you live your life. How willing you are to enjoy simple pleasures, even if things aren’t perfect.

Though I haven’t always done this well, today I choose to focus on the good-both in the world and myself-to feel happy right now. How will you tune into happiness today?

* iResearch reveals that KFP is using the wisdom gained from perhaps reading “The Family Circle” circa ’94.

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