Sunday, February 28, 2010

Happiness is a Warm Gun (Bang Bang Shoot Shoot)

I feel like there's been a lot of chatter among my blogging friends about happiness lately. Maybe I should capitalize that... Happiness. Maybe it's a generation thing, but sometimes I feel like there's a dark vein of discontent running through my peer group. So many of us feel like there is something seriously lacking in our lives and without it we really cannot be happy.

I don't understand that.

Ok, I do understand the discontent. I am often very frustrated with the place my path in life has lead me. I could easily say that I was dealt a difficult hand to play. Circumstances, many of which were beyond my control, many of which were not, built up and have left me in a less than ideal situation. I'm honestly not super happy with where I am right now. But I'm working on it. I'm slowly changing my circumstances. I'm discontent and frustrated with things right now, but I'm not unhappy.

I don't really have a feeling that something is lacking. Occasionally I get all lonely and sad about my serious lack of romantic involvement. Who doesn't want love in their life? But I don't have a life without love. My family is wonderful and supportive, and they love me unconditionally. My friends are wonderful and supportive... I don't know if they love me unconditionally, but I do know they love me and are there for me when I need them. The kind of deep, empathetic, personal support you get from a partner, I can find in my friends. Yes, I would like to meet someone special. But my life is no less complete without him.

I guess that's part of my point. How can anyone expect to be content with life if they aren't content with themselves? If your happiness is dependent on something that you feel is lacking, chances are you will never be happy. Once you get that thing you think is missing, you'll find that it doesn't actually fill the hole you think you have. Something will always be "lacking."

I wish I could teach people to be independently whole. What I mean is, I wish people could understand that they are not actually "lacking" anything. There is nothing "lacking" in their life. Whatever it is they need to find Happiness, they already have. Happiness cannot be rooted in materiality, it cannot be external. There is nothing you need to be happy more than the decision to be happy.

Yes, Happiness can absolutely be as simple as a decision. Except I shouldn't say that it's necessarily simple. To be happy, you have to really truly decide to be happy and that's so much harder to do than it sounds. I think anyone can do it though.

And for the love of Baby Dinosaur Jesus, don't just sit around and complain. If there is something in your life that you can't stand, change it. I'm not saying it will be easy, but if you really want to get rid of the crap that is making you miserable, you can do it. All it takes is a little determination and a little work. Ok... maybe a lot of determination and a lot of work.

But that is just the big picture. The big picture is important, but it is absolutely not everything. There is so much joy to be found in little things; tiny, fleeting moments that are gone before you even notice. But in those moments you can find such incredibly potent joy that.... All you have to do is be open to it. Let the beauty of life find you. Soon these moments build up and compound and grow.

Anyone who can say "I haven't been happy since ______" is doing it wrong. Anyone can be happy, really truly Happy. It just takes the right mind set. Stop dwelling on what's bad. Notice what is beautiful and good. I have never gone a day without finding something to smile about. Even if it's something really stupid and small.

I don't think I've really said everything right. It's 1:30 in the a.m. and I should really be sleeping. I just had all these thoughts going through my head (prompted, no doubt, by my catching up on the blogs I've failed to read for a while) about... well about what I've been blogging about up there. Sorry if it doesn't really make sense. I'm not going back to proof-read or edit or anything. But I am going to leave you with two bits of awesome that are kind of related to what I'm talking about:

Jeremy's post about what it means to be a true optimist.

If you're having a hard time trying to find something to smile about try one of these: 1,000 awesome things.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The World Smiles With You

As I was walking home from the bus stop a few minutes ago, a remarkable thing happened. I smiled at a stranger. That in itself is not remarkable. I try to always smile at strangers when I pass them in the street. Moreover I always try to give them a good and genuine smile. I do this because I have had a few really terrible days made better by a genuine smile from a passing stranger. I like to think I might be able to make someone else's gloomy day better.

This stranger didn't exactly smile back. They don't always. He did nod, and was not unfriendly. But after he passed, I found I could not stop smiling. My face was stuck in a broad, ear to ear, expression of joy.

The really odd thing about it is that today has not been the best of days. I really didn't get enough sleep last night. Class was not particularly exciting. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great. I don't have anything to look forward to tonight except work. In my state of fatigue from not sleeping last night, I'm not really looking forward to work. There is nothing really spectacular in my life that has happened lately.

I was smiling for no reason. When I realized I had no reason to smile, that just made me smile more. It made my teeth cold. I almost laughed. I was experiencing pure joy just to the sake of joy. It was amazing.

As I walked along, I noticed that I felt a bit lighter. My steps were more lively. The sun felt warmer and the air felt fresher. Just the simple contraction of a few facial muscles had such a profound effect on my mood and my day.

I hope when I get old, the most prominent lines on my face are those caused by smiling.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Checkin' In

After a long absence from the bloggosphere, I've decided that today conditions are perfect for a triumphant return. I'm playing hooky from school today because my brain is all clogged up with mucus and I can't breathe. I have a terrible cold. It started Friday in my chest and has expanded up into my head. I've spent the last two days sitting around in misery doing more or less nothing. I was hoping I would feel well enough today to go to class, but I got to the end of the driveway (on my way to the bus stop) and felt like I was going to pass out. So I turned around and went back home.

These conditions are perfect for blogging because a I'm super bored, b my brain functions are under the influence of awful cold virus which makes for some really interesting ramblings, c it's been a long-ass time since I blogged. (he he he long ass-time....this will make sense of it all)

When was the last time I wrote anyway? Damn! January 11th. That means I totally missed ULX, the start of classes, a revelation about my personal relationship to the whole dating thing, London excitement, and various other random bits of fun that I'm sure would have made an awesome blog. Sorry guys. I'll try to be more responsible with my updates.

Funny thing: a lot of the blogs I follow have been just as slack-tastic lately about updating. But in the last week or two they've also brought out their typing fingers and jumped back on the wagon.

I guess I'll start out with catching you up on all the stuff I just mentioned. Starting with ULX. Since I have posted about it in years past I'm not going to go into what it is here. Funny enough, I was just recovering from a cold when it rolled around this year. So I skipped out on the Friday dances and just rested with the hope that I could rally for Saturday and Sunday. My method worked. I wasn't able to do too much fast dancing, but I got in my fair share.

Highlight of the weekend: I totally danced with The Doctor. Ok, so he wasn't the real Doctor, nor was he David Tennant. This kid was dressed exactly like The Doctor though, even had the long coat. I found out later (because I had to talk to him... he's The Doctor) that he had it custom made for him. So, yes, the doctor look was totally intentional. Bonus: he is a great dancer. I was geeking out the entire weekend. He indulged my geekery, as did all my friends. Wasn't that nice of them?

I really wish I could go to more exchanges and lindy events. There are so many great opportunities for great dancing, most of the outside of Utah so you get the added bonus of great opportunities to travel and see new places. *sigh* Maybe some day I'll be able to run around the country dancing with fabulous people. In the mean time, there are a handful of fabulous dancers here, and I can be quite content dancing with them.

Speaking of travel... I might go to London this summer for a study abroad thing. Every year the English Department at the U does a summer trip to London. It's 6 credits for 5 weeks in Freaking London. Every year's trip has a special theme - for example, a few years ago, they did a London underground/ghost story sort of theme. They read Doyle and Poe and such and visited places those authors wrote and the setting for many of the stories. This year the theme is Early Modern Performance and Post-Modern Spectacle. That means pretty much Elizabeathan Theater (read Shakespeare!), and then how the city itself acts as a sort of "performer" and is a spectacle itself. But more important... Shakespeare!

I honestly didn't think there was any way I could possibly go on this trip. It's not exactly cheap, and 5 weeks would (will) be difficult to take off work. I didn't want to ask my parent's to pay for it. They've been hit hard by the shitty economy (who hasn't) and I certainly can't afford to send myself. About 2 weeks before the application was due, I mentioned it to my Mom. I brought it up just as something interesting, not as something I expected her to do anything about. When I finished telling her about it, she pretty much told me I should apply. They will find a way to pay for it. I guess these once in a lifetime opportunities should really be taken advantage of.

So anyway, I applied and am now waiting to hear if I got accepted into the program. Cross your fingers for me! There are a handful of things that could still pop up and stop me from going, but hopefully they can be worked around. I'm kind of afraid to get too excited about it until I know for certain I can actually go. It's hard though because, well, London!

My finger nail just broke. I'm going to go take a break now. I'll be back though, just like Arnold. Maybe even later today. Wouldn't that be fun? Two blog posts in one day! It shouldn't be possible! Oh, but I assure you, it is.