Gratitude Sunday: Put On A Happy Face

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Those who never change their minds, never change anything.” Winston Churchill

Sunday Haiku
Summer’s last hot day
whipped through my dusty valley.
Still waiting for rain.

Sunday Musings
I want to be happy. I do. I’m just not sure what that word means. According to the news, magazines, TV shows and commercials, and social media that’s what I’m supposed to be. And happiness is my choice. I can choose to be happy!

There’s the revelation. It’s my choice. I don’t need to wallow in self-pity about how strange my life is, and how hard all the processes of living are every day. I don’t need to be afraid of dealing with every day through a veil of anxiety and panic. It makes no matter all the distresses inside my body and outside my body I deal with. Empathy weighs heavy on me, knowing my distress is symptomatic of the distress of others as well. According to the myth about choice, I can force myself to be happy.

Self-help books say fake it till you make it. The Bible says practice cheerfulness, regardless of circumstance. Both these solutions feel false to me as they suggest you present as a deception. Is that being true to yourself? But if happiness doesn’t come naturally and you don’t put on the facade, you are judged to be not fun, or not worthy, or just not one others want to spend their time around. Does that make being falsely cheerful preferable to being oneself? In our society the simple answer is yes. False cheerfulness is required for acceptance and in all cases fake happiness is preferred as well. How awful to be sucked into the whirlwind of unhappiness of your friends and family or to bring them down into yours.

I can fake it. Sounding cheerful about (or discounting, like self-deprecating humor) the bad stuff that happens to one is as easy as skating on thin ice. One must only be aware of the surface and how easily broken it can be. Silence is more often the best option. Better to seem intelligent through silence than to open one’s mouth and inadvertently disprove the notion.

You know why I can fake it? My distresses are mostly about money. About paying for and keeping my house, keeping the mortgage and calamity insurance and property taxes paid. About scraping up the extra dollars to keep the house from falling in around my ears and the blackberries and and thistles (why do all my weeds have thorns?) and other weeds at bay. About keeping the heat and lights on in the winter and the little air conditioner and fans running in the summer. About keeping a 20 year old car running, and insured, and registered, with enough gas to get me to the grocery store and my local lending library. About paying for a modicum of technology, like internet service so I can work, a pre-paid cell phone, and a TV that works. About replacing appliances and water heaters as they wear out. Those are some of the basics.

What about the extras many of us get to take for granted? About the money to go to lunch or dinner with a spouse or a gal pal once in a while? Or out to a movie or live theater? Or a new shirt, even if it’s new-to-me from Goodwill? Or taking a real vacation (what’s that word mean?) or a day trip to the beach that’s only an hour away and not worry about the home front falling apart while I’m gone or the car breaking while I am traveling?

Here’s why I can fake being happy. It’s all nothing. It’s money; it’s a house, a car, a shirt, a pedicure, a beach. It’s nothing. When I’m gone from this life it will be less than nothing to me. My anxiety about it all is for naught as well. It is what it is.

What I want is contentment and security. The security of knowing there is enough, that home and livelihood are comfortably covered in perpetuity, never the thought of a landlord or tax collector at one’s door. Knowing the electricity and water won’t be shut off by the utility company. Knowing if something major like a car or appliance breaks, one doesn’t have to go into debt (which means you pay MORE, because interest) to replace it. Knowing if a pal calls and wants to do lunch, one can pay one’s way and maybe even treat this time without having to cash in cans and bottles, or even not thinking about the cans and bottles other than donating them to a local fundraiser. It’s cash flow and the bottom line.

I have more abundance than so many people. I have a home and it’s warm or cool as needed; I have tons of clothing to choose from; I have healthful food; I have running water (both kinds: hot and cold!). I have stuff I can (and should, and will, I’m slow) sell. I have more years in this wacky unruly body (thank you, Roxane Gay).

Remember my mantra: Change is the only constant. If you you fake it till you make it, it might make the journey easier, or more interesting, or more entertaining. Going from faking it to making it is one of those changes. I can practice cheerfulness (and practice, and practice, and practice); it’s like developing a habit such as meditation or mindfulness or doing tai chi routinely. Pretending to be cheerful can never hurt you. Why not change to being cheerful when around other people? Maybe it will make you feel good (or better, better is good, and the best part is being around people you enjoy) to be cheerful, just making the change of putting on that mask. My guess is few people will know it’s a mask. Maybe a day will come when I change enough to feel I have enough, it is enough, I am enough. In the meantime, I’ll employ the myth of choice, and choose to pretend I’m happy.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Yellow buddleia garners as many moths and butterflies as the purple. I don’t know the name of this floofy plant with burgundy foliage that grows taller than my head. Neon pinkish orange rose. Beautiful and edible rainbow chard. Lily reveals its autumn oranges, yellows, and stripes.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Almost done with the last season of Dr Kildare (1961-1966, TV series not rated) with Richard Chamberlain. It’s been fun spending the summer revisiting a youthful favorite, but I’m ready to move to more seasonal movies, as I am fond of psychological thrillers for the Halloween season.

Currently Reading
The Little Stranger (2009, fiction) by Sarah Waters. The best kind of spooky book is full of suspense and tension and the monster/entity is not revealed until the end. I have my suspicions as to who the ghost entity is, and I’m on the edge of my proverbial seat. * The Spirit Level: Why Great Equality Makes Stronger Societies (2011, sociology) by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. I am hoping the authors will eventually offer suggestions on how to remedy the pervasive and growing American inequality, though they are British. They plainly state the UK and the USA, though the richest nations, are doing the worst on taking care of the poorest people of our nations. I say: What good is wealth if it doesn’t take care of us?

This week I have been grateful for:

  • A friend I haven’t seen in ages finding me at farmers market. A great long hug, and tears of friendship.
  • Maintenance week at my local aquatic center is almost over.
  • A murder of crows announcing their flight across my yard. I am particularly fond of crows. Inordinately fond.
  • Cleaning a corner cabinet in the kitchen that was growing seven dimensional beggar’s velvet. Sparkles now.
  • Getting my range hood scrubbed.
  • Tackling a patch of overgrown ivy to get a bin of cans and bottles out to cash in, just in time before the ivy had grown into many of the bottles.
  • Ten minute work windows.
  • Remembering to check the sink and the tub before use so I can surprise the spiders rather than the other way around, since September is spider season.
  • Listening to Obama’s Illinois speech, someone who eloquently says what I say so clumsily.
  • The way my hair is going whiter and crazier and wilder over the last two years.
  • Noticing the light leaving earlier in the evenings. The noticing.
  • How quiet the evenings are in the neighborhood now school is back in session.
  • Living in a multi-generational neighborhood.
  • Oregon strawberries all summer long.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, Education, Entertainment, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, Nature, Photography, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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