Are You Happy and Do You Know It?
There are a ton of unhappy people in our lives. You know who they are. They're jealous and petty. They steal your joy, if you let them. They imagine what you're thinking. They're always busy, and are too busy for you. They step on your ribbons during your parade. They are not your friends.
Mary Lou Retton has so much joy bouncing out all over, people make fun of her. But frankly, I find her smile and positive outlook refreshing. Lately, I've let people steal my joy, but no more. I'm too old for all these games people play. In Mary Lou Retton's book, Gateways to Happiness: 7 Ways to a More Peaceful, More Prosperous, More Satisfying Life, she lists the gateways towards true joy and happiness. There is a lot of ugliness out there, and I'm determined to find the fun and the beauty and the joy in just being here. This is my time. It's all I've got, and someone else muddying my waters doesn't mean I have to stop enjoying the swim.
Here are Mary Lou's 7 Gateways to Happiness: Family, Faith, Relationships, Attitude, Discipline, Health and Laughter. I told you about some of the books that I have enjoyed reading and it's taken me awhile to figure out why I like them. Wrapped in the journey of reading is a seeking of true joy and contentment, no matter how bad we are bummed out by circumstances.
You may have a lousy family. Ok. So, "adopt" your family. Find people to love who love you back. A family is one that cheers you on, encourages you, thinks you are God's Gift. They are the ones who tell you your breath stinks, too, before you meet the President (but have a breath mint to help you out.) They're the ones who only wish the best for you. They love you unconditionally. If you have real family which is constantly negative and putting you down,too, and who finds fault every time you breathe, well, you don't need that.
Everyone needs faith. If you have lost your faith, then it's time to look for it. Billy Graham says that his purpose is to "help people find a personal relationship with God, which," he believes,"comes through knowing Christ." I think that's a pretty good purpose. However, there are people who steal your joy because you have this purpose. Don't let them.
What kind of relationships are in your daily life? For a long time I had some crummy relationships. I was always finding people who really aren't my friends. They dragged me down, sabotaged me, submarined me each time I had dreams or laughter. No more. If I can't find a person determined to find joy in living close in proximity to me (which my own family and my husband's family are joyful people, so I don't have to go far,) then I'll find them in long distance places, and try to keep up with those people. You people hopefully know who you are. I try to email you often.
Check your attitude. I notice that when I get around certain people, my attitude gets negative. Once you begin feeling negative about a situation, you soon are on your way to a poisoning. It makes things twice as hard. And watch it that your confidence doesn't come across as arrogance, rudeness or insensitivity. (It can.) Mary Lou says, "True confidence is founded on the knowledge of God's great love for us, and it doesn't require the approval or recognition of others." Mary Lou Retton's attitude is superb. The price of the book is worth it for this section.
Discipline is where I've fallen down lately. I have let myself be swallowed in involvements that I need to get rid of, excess in indecision, and just plain tiredness. It really makes me unhappy. So, it's back on the trail of self-discipline for me. Cleaning out and moving on. I may not be able to control what happens to me, but I can control my reaction, my self-discipline and my attitude in this area. You can, too.
Health is another area that is difficult to have control over. You can't always control what is going to happen to you. Disease hits the just and unjust. My mother lived well, but yet she was struck down by a disease that didn't care that she was doing everything right. Still, I believe that if she had just given in, or said, "Oh, well. I guess I'm going to die," that she wouldn't have made it 35 more years. I would've been without a mother growing up. My brother wouldn't have been born. My kids would've never known their grandmother. Even in the worst case scenario, you can fight for your health. Believe it.
Laughter is the area I've decided is going to be a big part of my life. I even made my tagline, "In love and laughter." I know that I cannot write tearjerkers. It's just not in my nature. I try to find something to laugh about each day, if it kills me. (Ha!) That's why I read the funny papers everyday and I keep Calvin and Hobbes books close by. If I start falling into an abyss of doom and gloom, or one of those petty people have crossed me like a black cat, well, I pull out something funny to read or look at photos of times when I laughed with my head back.
One of my very favorite photos of Mary Lou Retton is one where she is with President Ronald Reagan. He is laughing, but she has her head thrown all the way back and you can see the roof of her mouth! It makes you smile just to see it. And you long to know what was so funny. You want a good belly laugh, too.
Jesus told his disciples one time, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Yeah, we got trouble. It starts with a T and ends with an E, that's trouble. T-R-O-U-B-L-E. (Ok, I just stole that from a musical...) Find a joy in each day. Your peace and satisfaction depends on it. Take heart.