Featured in

Featured in: Tiny Buddha, Halifax Media Coop, Fine Fit Day, Simplify the Season, La Presse, Filles, Le Canada-Français

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Life sucks? Reset your buttons

Happiness is not about walking around with a big wide bright smile all the time (or, as we would call it in French, "un sourire niais").

Take me for example: I consider myself a rather happy person. Yet no later than yesterday, I was so tired of the whining festival that's been going on in my house for days, I was ready to put my kids for sale on Kijiji... and though I did not do it, I did spend some time alone, head in my hands, dark thoughts spinning out of control, completely depressed at what a lousy job I must have done as a mom to end up with such whine-prone kids.

(Mind you, a few hours later, they returned from school in a much better mood and everything was forgotten... until the next crisis!)

Yes, life has its good moments, and we should absolutely savour them, but life also has its share of unpleasantness... when it's not plain pain and suffering. Shit does happen, and let's put it bluntly, at times, life sucks. Sometimes in such proportions that a whiny child would come as a refreshing break from the harsh reality. Think about the all too common financial problems, health problems, conflicts and violence, addictions, losses (of a loved one, for example)... a little monster's tantrum is nothing compared to that!

Yes, life is unfair, life is tough, and on top of it all it doesn't last nearly long enough.

Now that everyone's depressed, let's look at the bright side of things. One does not need constant pleasure and/or serenity, sprinkled with loads of good luck, to be happy. Happiness is in you, and if you push the ON button often enough, whatever happens to you, it will stay ON.

Frustration, stress, bad surprises and all the other inconveniences of life are like the overload or short circuit that makes the fuses blow. It is unpleasant, especially when it happens often, but to each problem its solution. While you deal with the situation at hand in a calm and pragmatic manner (as much as humanly possible!), keep in mind that you also need to reset your happiness button.

Now, how does one go after that?

Hmmm... not so fast! I am not going to give you a ready-cooked-masticated-and-digested list of ways to push your happiness button. No. Instead, I'm going to ask you to come up with your own, personal list. Why? First of all, because it will be more meaningful to you, which in turn will make it easier to internalize, remember, and act on it. Second of all, because part of the fun (and source of happiness) resides precisely in the challenge. I am not inventing that. Read what Dan Baker, author of the excellent book What Happy People Know, says about it: "The human mind, body and spirit thrive on struggle and challenge, just as a muscle thrives on exercise. Satisfaction without effort doesn't create happiness. It creates only dissipation, alienation, boredom, weakness, and a sense of worthlessness."

My infinite leniency :-) forbids me to let you readers experience such negative feelings, therefore I will let you build your list of button-reseters without my help... for now.

Once you think you've found some good ones, share them with us, and we'll see how they all fit in one big list. This should be fun! So go ahead: think about all the things that reset your happiness button, especially after a drawback or in the midst of chaos. Write them down. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. snuggling with my tiny dog,
    taking a hot bath,
    spending time with my grandson,
    reading a good book