A few months ago, I began to keep an online Happiness Jar. The idea came from one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert, who often shares her fans’ pictures on her Facebook fan page of crafty DIY Happiness Jars containing their daily writings about what made them happy.
I’m no Martha Stewart, but I have my hands on my laptop for many hours a day, and I thought perhaps using my blog’s Facebook page would be a good way to start conversations with people about happiness. I’d share what I was happy about each day and invite others to do the same and perhaps create a small positive energy movement.
Initially, it was a great conversation – people were responding every day and sharing their pieces of happiness, just like I had hoped. Then that slowly died off, and every time I posted MY Happiness Jar entry, you could hear the crickets chirping away. Nobody even “liked” what I was saying.
This started to bother me a little. Then a lot. I felt like I was failing at spreading a positive message. I started to worry that I was “annoying” people and that nobody gave a rats. So I stopped sharing my daily Happiness Jar entries for a while.
Until the proverbial lightning bolt hit me.
The purpose of MY Happiness Jar was not to make anyone else happy.
It was about preserving MY bits of happiness. It was about MY desire to have a higher awareness of the positive parts of MY life.
It was about having a place to go to look back on the happy things in MY life if I ever needed some inspiration in a dark time.
It was NOT about anyone else.
So I started again.
Sometimes people share, more often they don’t. The crickets still chirp on a regular basis, but I have stopped giving a shit. Especially because when I re-started posting my daily Happiness Jar entries, I wrote a brief version of the above and had some pretty incredible comments – people telling me that MY Happiness Jar entries often inspired them, even if they never responded to my posts with their own statements of happiness.
So I am learning to refocus.
There are days when it’s damn hard to think of ONE happy thing, trust me.
Today, I could tell you about how I’ve had a barking cough for 6 days now that obviously has decided to never leave. I could tell you how that cough combined with the stress of having to whip DD in and out of 4 costume changes with a 2-song time limitation twice yesterday and once Friday night have attacked my neck and shoulder with clenched muscles to give me muscle spasms that made sleep almost impossible despite my exhaustion last night. I could tell you how my 14 year old cat decided to poop on my bathroom floor because I wouldn’t get up at 3am to feed him. I could tell you about the laundry I did last Monday that’s still folded in a basket upstairs waiting to be put away because I was also at a conference for 2 days last week and have had no time to do anything resembling housework.
I could tell you a whole bunch of other crap that makes me weepy, crabby and a little bit stabby.
But happiness is a CHOICE.
I want to be happy. These negative things are all a part of life – every life – not just mine. Without them, I’d have no benchmark to compare the good stuff to. Yes, life has some unhappy moments, situations, times, but even on our darkest days, there is always at least one little thing that was good – the taste of a delicious dessert, the smile on a child’s face, the friend calling to see how you are doing.
I could dwell on all of the rotten stuff I listed, OR – I could tell you about all the people who told my daughter what a fantastic dancer she is at her recitals yesterday. I could tell you about how every time she stepped out on that stage – 4 times per show for 3 shows now – my eyes filled with love bubbles that I had to breathe deeply to contain, or risk falling apart with the absolute love and pride I felt. The pure bliss of fulfillment, remembering how only a few years ago, I had convinced myself I’d never be a mom watching my child live out his or her passions. I could tell you how Huzbo, with his six left feet, actually agreed to dress himself up with neon colours and get up on that stage with other dads to shake his groove thing in the “Dancing Dads” part of the dance school’s annual recital, and how it made both of our kids laugh out loud with pleasure. I could tell you about how a beautiful, sweet compliment on Facebook from my best friend put a gigantic smile on my face last night when I was so worn out.
My Happiness Jar can be half-empty, or half-full. It’s all a matter of perspective. I am the only gatekeeper of what goes into my mind and affects me.
Sometimes it’s hard to choose half-full, I completely agree. It’s human nature for many – myself included – to be pessimistic or negative. It’s often easier to let your inner bully crawl into your sacred mind space and take away your joy.
Optimism and happiness sometimes require work. Sometimes that work is extra-hard due to illness, and professional or medicinal help is needed – that’s ok, too. Whatever works – nobody should ever be faulted for choosing happiness and doing whatever it takes to get there.
So today, I choose happiness.
“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln
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