I’ve been in a funk all week. I’m feeling really discouraged that I just can’t seem to be the person that I want to be. The lack of sunlight this time of year doesn’t help; it tends to make things look even bleaker than they really are when I do get down.
The one thing that has helped keep me from getting overwhelmed by this current bout of discouragement is the laughter that so often fills my days at the office. We manage to find ways to (gently) tease each other and things to laugh about multiple times a day. My gratitude for the chance to work in an environment like this knows no bounds.
I’m choosing self-care tonight and recycling a post a wrote for another blog back in November 2011. It was a very good reminder for me today on the cost of my choices.
I recently came across a post on Tyler Tervooren’s Advanced Riskology blog called Happiness for sale that suggests that we tend to sell our happiness all the time. I highly recommend reading his post because he clearly describes this phenomenon and the ways it shows up in our lives. He has a follow-up post called Happiness experiments: Tipping the scale towards joy that talks about how we can change our behavior to stop selling our happiness that is also worth reading.
But for those of you who aren’t convinced to go read it yourselves right this moment, let me summarize his basic premise. He starts with the idea that every decision we make has an opportunity cost; choosing one thing means we are giving up the opportunity to do something else with whatever you are spending on that choice. For example, the fact that I am choosing to write this blog post right now means I cannot spend this time reading a book or vacuuming the floor. Choosing to spend money on eating out for lunch every day means I don’t have that money to spend on other things (like books).
Therefore, every time we choose to do something that does not make us happy, we are choosing to sell our happiness in order to have that choice. Yes, you read that right: every time you choose to do something that makes you unhappy, you are choosing to sell your happiness. And for what? Is it worth it?
“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement … get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.” ~Abraham Joshua Heschel
One of my Facebook friends recently posted a link to a YouTube video of a flash mob that grew over the course of the performance into a full orchestra (including timpanis!) and choir. I love watching videos of flash mobs like this one as much to watch the reactions of the surprised audience as to hear the quality of the performance.
As with many of these that I watch, I am struck by the number of adults who exhibit little expression even though they may stay to watch and listen to the performers. I do see a few people smiling, and there is one gentleman at about the 4 minute mark whose whole face lights up with delight and clearly mouths an amazed “Wow!” as he arrives on the scene, but there is much less reaction than I would expect from suddenly finding a full orchestra and choir doing an impromptu performance in the middle of a public space.
I have a number of things I need to get done this weekend, but I decided to spend a little time making jewelry this morning because I haven’t had much chance to do that work during the work week this week. I decided to start playing around with making necklaces, which is a new thing for me.
The next thing I knew, half the day was gone and I was completely unaware of time passing. Fortunately, I also had several completed necklaces to show for it, so it wasn’t at all a waste. But I’m still fascinated by the way time just seemed to disappear while I was working.
“Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.” ~Emily Dickinson
For most of my life, I’ve believed that at some point I would arrive someday at some magical set of circumstances that would allow me to be happy. I had moments of attaining this kind of happiness, but they never lasted because the conditions that caused the happiness always changed.
I caught myself thinking this the other day. I recognize it as a standard bit of my usual self-talk, but I really heard it for the first time recently. Where on earth did a thought like this come from in the first place? How did the goodness of life become a source of discomfort for me?
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” ~Mary Oliver
I’ve always loved this quote because it’s taken me years to understand that the darkness in my own life is a gift. It often does not feel that way at the time, but it is a gift nevertheless. And recognizing it as such in the moment, even when I can’t see it, makes the darkness easier to bear.
“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” ~e.e. cummings
I waited many years for someone to reveal that what was inside me was valuable—and I’m sure there were those along the way that tried, but there were always so many other negative voices, both within and without, that drown them out. And so I could not receive the message, even if it was there.
I love words. I always have … or at least I have for as long as I can remember. My mom says that from the time I was old enough to sit up by myself, she could keep me occupied just by giving me a page of the newspaper. Apparently I would stare at the words in rapt fascination for long stretches of time that would allow her to fix meals or get other things done around the house. I still love the sight of printed words—in any language. It’s still a marvel to me that we can capture thoughts from our minds with scribbles on a page. I suppose it’s no surprise, therefore, that I grew up loving to read and to write.
I also love the sound of words. Sometimes the sound of a certain word will capture my attention, and I find myself marveling over the sound of each letter and each syllable, how those sounds fit together, and how the word feels in my mouth. This happens with new words (to me) and to words that I use all of the time. In those moments, it’s as if they are suddenly highlighted by a spotlight in my mind that makes them exotic all over again.
“As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world.” ~Terri Guillemets
I truly have so much in my life to be thankful for. The more I am paying attention to these things for which I am grateful, the more things I seem to find that merit gratitude. And the more I find, the more I think of gratitude throughout the day, which leads to noticing even more things for which to be grateful. It’s really a most lovely cycle.