Sunday, February 12, 2012

Within My Heart A Welcome Guest

Today's title comes from the hymn Abide with Me; 'Tis Eventide.

Whatever you are doing right now, STOP.

Look around you.

Think of five things that you can currently see/feel/hear/etc... that you are grateful for.

Here are my 5.

1 - A computer to type this on.
2 - Fingers and hands that function properly.
3 - My LTC bracelet.
4 - The music playing on my phone.
5 - This super comfortable couch i'm sitting on.

That wasn't too hard. 5 really isn't that many once you get going. I could have probably written at least a few dozen more off the top of my head, just by noticing what is around me right in this moment. And I bet you could too. How about eyes to see this screen? Or a mind that allows me to press these buttons and make words? I'm happy to have all these things.

The cool thing about being happy, is it gives you a lot to be grateful for. And when you are full of gratitude, you are usually happier because you realize how much you already have. So really I could have said, "Think of five things that make you happy" and you could probably list some of the same things.

That doesn't mean I can only be grateful when i'm happy. Maybe I got a paper cut; that definitely doesn't make me happy. But I can be grateful that it was a paper cut instead of a machete and I didn't bleed to death. And then i'm happy that i'm still alive. So maybe gratitude can bring forth happiness?

I've had a lot of time to think lately. And the idea of 'happiness' has been on my mind since I work at "The Happiest Place on Earth". What does that word even mean, happy? Is happiness the same for everyone? What makes me happy? Am I currently happy? If not, why? Sometimes I think my mind is its own 4 year old, asking questions ALL the time. And sometimes I think it's pointless to spend so much time thinking about random stuff like this. But nevertheless, happiness has been the topic of ponderance as of late. And here's what i've come up with.

You are exactly as happy as you make your mind up to be.

If I really, really want to be happy, i'll find things that make me happy. But if I have a sour attitude and think the world sucks, i'm going to seek out the things that make that idea true. It's called the confirmation bias in research and statistics. We have a tendency to latch onto the things that coincide with our ideal and brush away the things that disprove or disagree with it.

*Side note, I think this is a huge part of eating disorders and self-esteem issues. If a teenage girl thinks she is fat, she will ONLY notice the things that confirm this, but she'll shun any comments or facts that suggest otherwise. But that theory is for another time.*

SO, what i'm saying is this. I, as most people do, want to be happy. And I want to figure out what will help me gain that happiness. But when it comes down to it, it's all up to me. A mickey mouse shaped ice cream can't MAKE me happy. It can help. It can influence. It can bring about happy thoughts. But it  is up to me to DECIDE if i'm going to be happy or not. Truly, truly happy.

Lately, i've noticed that the more I realize the astounding quantity and quality of things I am grateful for, the easier it is to let myself be happy. How can I be in a bad mood when I sit down and realize that God gave me a respiratory system that keeps me breathing without me even having to think about it? My lungs are literally helping keep me alive and I don't even notice them most of the time. Or how about the sun? The sun is amazing! It brings beauty when it rises and sets, light and warmth during the day, helps nature grow, makes biological life processes possible, etc... And those are just physical things. I won't even get into what a miracle and a blessing Grace is, or how I truly stand all amazed when I think of what Jesus Christ went through for me and what it allows. All in all, when I understand how much i've been given, i'm completely overwhelmed with gratitude. And guess what follow soon thereafter? Happiness :)

I don't know if there is really a "secret" to life, but I think gratitude is at least a hint.

PS: Totally unrelated side note - It's Abraham Lincoln's birthday today! 203 years. He was an incredible man, whose picture is currently hanging on my wall. If any of you were wondering "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" at the Opera House is my favorite part of Disneyland. Nerd status, I know. But he's just that great :)

"All that I am, or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." - Abraham Lincoln

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