Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On Happiness

One of the blogs that I read daily had a post recently about happiness and the fact that each of us is responsible for our own state of mind.  It stated that others can not make us happy.  We and we alone have the ability to choose whether to live in a state of happiness or in a state of misery.

Everyone has people in their lives who could drag us down if we allowed them to.  And each of us has circumstances, whether it be financial problems, work related aggravations, living situations or a myriad of other things in life, that could make us unhappy.  Even our long, cold, gray winters can bring us down.  But only if we let them.

The suggestion was made that we make a list of ten things that make us happy, and whenever we start to feel down in the dumps, take out that list and read it.  Focus on those things that make us truly happy.  Although I have never actually written down this list, this is a method I have used in the last few years to ward off depression.  Whenever I feel myself headed toward a pity party, I think about things more pleasant.  So here is my list of happy things.

1.  Fall leaves make me happy.  I love that time of year.  The hot, muggy summer days are gone, the air is crisp but not freezing cold, and the colors of the leaves are spectacular.  I love being outside this time of year just to drink it all in and enjoy.

2.  Flowers make me happy.  Flowers are one of God's best creations.  I love lilacs in the spring and daisies in the summer.  I love the rich colors of chrysanthemums in the fall.  My walks in the warm months of the year are made so much better when I see a yard full of flowers.  Or when I bring home cut flowers from the store.  They always brighten my day.

3.  Soft spring rains make me happy.  Spring rains wash away all of the dirty, dreary leftovers of winter.  They bring on the beautiful green leaves and grass of summer.  They make the world smell fresh and clean.

4.  Big brown puppy eyes make me happy.  Dogs are so trusting.  They love you unconditionally.  They want to be with you, even when you are grumpy.  And even if you just went out to get the mail, they act like they are so glad to see you when you come back.

5.  Phone calls make me happy.  I'm not talking about those calls where someone wants to sell me something.  Or those bad news calls that we have all received.  I am talking about the ones where my adult child says that they just called to see how I am.  Or those calls where a grandchild has something exciting to tell me about.  Or when a friend or relative calls just because they missed me.  Those are the phone calls that make me happy.

6.  The smell of homemade bread baking in the oven makes me happy.  It is not just the promise of the yummy goodness that will be ready to eat soon, but it is also the memories of the smell of bread fresh from the oven when I got home from school, as a child.

7.  Memories make me happy.  We all have good memories and bad memories.  The bad ones I have taken out, looked at them and then packed them away on a shelf in the back of the closet of my mind.  Those things that caused the bad memories cannot be changed, only learned from, and they are not worth dwelling on.  But the good memories live in my mind, right in front, where I can take them out, remember good times or people who are well loved or places that made me happy.  Good memories can bring sunshine to the darkest day.

8.  Making things makes me happy.  It doesn't matter if it is a quilt that I make, or a batch of chocolate chip cookies or a really good supper.  I get as much pleasure crocheting a granny square for my work-in-progress afghan as I do from making a loaf of bread.  I come by this honestly.  My mother was creative.  She sewed and made crafty things when I was young.  It is her influence that causes me to be happy while "doing something," no matter what it is.

9.  Woods and water make me happy.  There is a feeling of peacefulness that goes along with a walk in the woods or along a shore.  The smell of pine trees, the sounds of bird's songs and the gentle lapping of water on a shore make for a serene soul.  Whenever I have been unhappy or distressed, a walk in nature has most times brought me back to a place of happiness.

10.  I have saved the best for last.  My children and grandchildren make me the happiest of all.  Whether we are spending time together on a family picnic or on a holiday or special occasion, or whether I am just looking at their pictures that I keep in my bedroom, or talking with them on the phone, my family never ceases to make me happy.  They are my best thing and I love them will all of my heart.

I can guarantee that if I were unhappy, reading my list of happy things would turn the most dreary time into one of complete joy.  It works.

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