“There are times in the lives of most of us when we would have given all the world to be as we were but yesterday, though that yesterday had passed over us unappreciated and unenjoyed.” --- William Edward Hartpole LeckyEveryone wants to be happy. What makes us happy? Are we happy?
Were we happier in the past or are we happier now? Do we need to be happy? Can we live a good life without happiness?
Guilt, anger and need for revenge can steal our happiness. Jealousy is a major thief of happiness. People are killed by loved ones because of jealousy.
Lives can be ruined by all these things. For most of my life, I blamed my moods on people around me. I worried about everything that had any effect on me. My family had a huge amount of control over my life and that of my husband's when we lived so near them. Anger ruled me for years, and the anger came from my lack of or my assumption that I had no control over my life. When I gave in to my anger and erupted like a volcano my husband or one of my brothers usually felt the fire, the words that spewed like lava from my mouth. That brought on my guilt, my shame for being irrational or paranoid.
At times I wished to disappear and be invisible. How could those I loved look at me with love when I had such loathing for myself? Looking back on these times in my life, I find a deep empathy for my father. He was well-known for his bad temper, his anger that turned to rage and brought out the worst in him. Mother said he always felt such remorse when he calmed down.
"Depressed people remember sad memories better and happy people remember the happy times better." *
I often wonder if my older brothers had the same father as my younger sister and I. They remembered Daddy with love and respect. I remembered his unreasonable anger for many years even after he died at the age of 88. Was it depression that brought back those bad memories or was it anger and need for revenge that goaded me as an adult?
"Depressed people have as many good events in their lives as other people, but they only remember the bad ones." *
At one time I only remembered my bad feelings, anxiety and anger, at family gatherings. My sister remembered those gatherings with fondness and joy.
For the past few months, Gay and I emailed each other, every day, three things for which we were grateful. I think that is a wonderful exercise, and I urge you to do it with someone you like or love.
- Today I am grateful I woke up with no pain.
- I am grateful that I have heat in my house and I am warm.
- I am grateful for my little dog who brings me such joy every day.
Expressing our gratefulness at the moment grounds us and makes us recognize what good we have in our lives. When we do this, we don't let the day go past unappreciated or un-enjoyed.
No one knows what tomorrow will bring. We live in a very uncertain world. But we know what we have this minute, this hour, today. I try to be grateful for today and what it brings. Write down those special moments in a journal or on your computer. I believe writing our thoughts embeds them in our minds so we can pull them up when we want to experience joy again.
Today I talked on the phone for a long time with my sister. We laughed and wondered how we got this old without even realizing it. We talked about our plans for the future, we discussed our loved ones and how we want to help them. I will list this phone call on my gratitude list.
For those who have children, record with photos or words, those delightful things they say and do. One day you can share them and laugh about the happy times. From my brother's recordings I watched recently, emotions spilled over and I laughed as well as cried. I only remember the good things about the family get-togethers now. I am different. I am happy and at peace. I see faces of family that are gone now and wish I had the chance to speak to them again, to tell them how much I appreciated them. But those days were unappreciated at the time because we always thought we had tomorrow. We often let petty anger or jealousy stand in the way of being who we want to be.
|And then there were six, taken after the death of Ray the oldest brother|
|Family photo at Easter before I was married|
With age comes wisdom, and looking back with the wisdom of my years, I see so many ways I brought on my unhappiness, times I brought unhappiness to others.
If you could go back to yesteryear, what would you do differently? Could you have been a happier person or been a kinder person to those around you? Could you have saved a relationship with a sibling or friend?
If only we could pass our wisdom on to younger ones today. But will youth listen or must they learn these things from their own experience? What do you think?
Take control of your life. Be the hero in your life story. Don't let today go by unappreciated.
* From The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin