The Happiness Manifesto Blog

How I Beat the Living Hell Out of Suffering and Made It My Bitch

Archive for the month “August, 2012”

The Gratitude Games

How many of us are working to manifest a life of joy and fulfillment?  I know I am.  And though I can see so many successes that I’ve had, I know that it can get so much better!  So what’s been holding me back?

I recently finished listening to the audiobook of The Power (can you tell I love Rhonda Byrne?  Read her books if you haven’t.  I recommend them to people so often I feel like I should start a NPO to fund buying them in bulk and go door-to-door like a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon asking people if they’ve heard the good news).  The Power is the sequel to The Secret.  Anyway, in it, she’s talking about keeping a positive, loving attitude and she made a point that I hadn’t really thought of before: just feeling “OK” is not feeling “good”.  I can feel the difference between when I’m really, truly happy – when I’m focusing on things I love, things are going well, I’m in a good mood, I have energy – and when I’m just “OK”.  “OK” means I’m here; I don’t feel awful, but I don’t feel wonderful.  I’m awake, but not energetic.  Things aren’t falling apart, but puzzle pieces aren’t falling into place, either.  Things just “are”.

For me historically, “OK” was “good” – because the alternative was “horribly depressed”.  When you’re on the low end of the spectrum and a good day is one where you don’t feel miserable, you kind of lose perspective as to what “good” truly feels like.  So I have improved since I read The Secret for the first time and decided to take things into my own hands and change my life – I went from “horribly depressed, afraid, stressed, and exhausted” as my modus operandi to “calm and okay” as my norm.  That’s a great improvement.  But when you want to really make a joyful life, you’ve got to have a joyful attitude.

I’ve had moments where I really felt that joy – but so far, “OK” is still my baseline.  Now don’t get me wrong – that’s a much better baseline than the pit of despair.  But I want my life to be wunderbar, not just “OK”.

From here, it may seem like a daunting task to make that internal shift from “not bad” to “great!”  But from that pit of despair, it seemed like a daunting task to not be depressed on a regular basis, and I successfully changed that, didn’t I?

So, one of my methods to climb another rung on the attitude ladder has been to find different ways to be grateful.  I have come up with various games and practices to just think about things I love, am grateful for, and am manifesting in my life.  So for instance, one of the things I am manifesting for myself is a car.  I mentioned before that I’ve never owned one, and it would make my life so much easier to do so!  So every day, when I am thinking of things to be grateful for, I give gratitude for my car that is on its way to me.  I envision in my mind already owning it.  I picture spontaneously going to visit friends and it being a quick and easy trip.  I picture buying whatever I want at the store and not worrying about if I’ll be able to carry it, or if it will fit in my grandma cart if I’ve got that along.  I picture driving with a friend up in the mountains.  I imagine giving someone else a ride.

I love you, Smartcar! ❤

Yup, I’m enamored with Smartcars.  Specifically that one – I’ve already configured exactly what I want on their website.  I think when I get my Smartcar, I shall name him Einstein.  Because he’s smart.  And that’s how I roll. 😉

In coming up with these gratitude practices for myself, I had a stroke of inspiration: I should put together a book of Gratitude Games.  So that’s what I’m going to do!

I’ve been thinking of how it should look: a paper book should be easy to write in, so people can do some of the written exercises right then and there.  But perhaps a binder would be better, as they can re-arrange the order and do the ones that work for their path that day.  Ooh, an app!  How do I develop an app?  Maybe an interactive book on iPad – they have apps where you can build and publish for the iPad, on the iPad!  I need to manifest myself an iPad!  But then I still need to make an app for non-iPad users!  And a paper book for the technologically disinclined!  And an e-book for e-readers!

…this is how my brain works when it latches onto an idea.  Sometimes I need to tell it, “Slow down, Turbo!”  So I got out a pen and paper (low tech) and started making a list of gratitude game ideas.

I still don’t know how I’m going to form the book (app!  paper!  e-book!  interactive!), but that will come when it’s ready.  I have not given up on The Book, but I feel like the Gratitude Games is a stepping stone on the path toward its completion.  Perhaps I will be so grateful to get a book done, I will manifest… getting another book done!

In the meantime, I am compiling an ever-longer list of Games, and sending love to Einstein.

Because I love a man with brains.

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My People

If you laugh a little too hard at Christopher Titus jokes (especially Norman Rockwell Is Bleeding), you are My People.

That’s kind of been my benchmark for years.

If it’s not been made clear, I come from a rather messed up background.  I’m not going to regale you with my “f**ked-uppedness cred” – because that’s rather beside the point.  And really – I am tired of hearing the same story at the beginning of every “rags to riches” or “success story” by a given author.  Every.  Single.  Time.  “Look, I overcame this!” and “Look, I overcame that!”  Maybe the first speech or book or radio show you hear them do, you say, wow.  But then if you like what they have to say and you want to hear more… you have to hear that same story twenty million times.  By about the fifth or fifteenth time, you’re feeling rather pitiless, like, “Yeah, I know, you were homeless and living in your car, or addicted to drugs, or an alcoholic, or Mommy didn’t love you, blah, blah, blah… I know!  Get on with it!”

Or as Christopher Titus would say, “…come down off the cross and use the wood to build yourself a bridge and get over it.”

Or is that just me?

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am not an advocate of telling people to hold it all in, suck it up, or otherwise give themselves an ulcer.  But life coaches?  Motivational people?  STILL fixated on their troubled past?  Reliving it with every class or seminar or speech they give?  That just seems… f**ked up.

But Wren, you may be saying, they’re trying to show that if they can come from hell and succeed, you can, too.

Alright, fine.  But you can say, “I know what it’s like to be in a dark place,” without having to go into all the gory details.  And if you’re truly over it, you don’t need to go into the gory details with every Tom, Dick, and Harry you want to motivate.  But these people are telling the same exact story – either with so much pain in their voices you just know it still haunts them, or with absolutely no emotion at all, like they’ve become so numb to the telling of it that it means nothing anymore – over and over again.  Neither of these scenarios sounds very healthy for the storyteller.  And how are they helping others by self-flagellating, again?

So what’s the point of telling and re-telling your dark, gritty backstory twenty times a week to anyone who will hear it?

Oh, yeah.  F**ked-Uppedness Cred.

These people are trying to earn the respect of people who are still in the dark place.

You know you do it, too.  Hell, I’ve done it.  If you’ve been through hell, you look at the Leave It To Beaver-esque families out there, with their support for each other, unconditional love, financial stability, health, and tragedy-less lives, and you kind of stare, like, “are these people for real?”  When the worst thing that’s happened to them is a fender bender or a bad case of the flu, you scoff at their blissful unawareness.  You mock what they consider to be hard times.  You can’t take much of anything they say – let alone their advice or compassion – seriously, because you feel like they just don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

So the F**ked-Uppedness Cred is important if you want to be respected and taken seriously, and not blown off as some airy-fairy self-esteem cheerleader, giving trophies to everyone just for participating.

Right?

Well, f**k that noise.

I’m a pretty easy-going kinda gal.  Even when I was a volatile brew of emotional meltdown, blinding self-hatred, and distorted thinking, I still put on the happy face, and no one had even the foggiest that anything was even remotely bothering me.  Again – I am not advocating this as a good idea.  In fact it’s a very, very bad idea.  Don’t do it.  But I digress.

I would smile.  I would laugh.  I would make jokes.  And I didn’t tell other people my crap.  When something dropped – usually innocuously – it would stun the hell out of people.  Because I came off as that innocent goody two-shoes whose biggest problem was that tragic C in math class type.  But then I would let slip some hint of my real life and inevitably, I’d get comments along the lines of, “Wait… what?!  You?!!” or “But you always seem so happy!”

Yep, me.  News flash: not every person with a tragic past a) does drugs b) drinks to excess c) dresses goth and/or slutty and/or gangster d) screws anything that moves in a desperate search for love or e) flunks out of school and/or gets arrested.  Some of us rebel by being good.

Yessir, when I was a teenager, I was an honor student, participated in all sorts of extracurriculars, held down a job, was a teacher’s pet of sorts, didn’t do drugs, drink, have sex, or get into trouble, and otherwise could have played the “good influence” role on any after school special there ever was.

All while… living in hell.

And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been condescended to by people whose biggest problem that I could tell (since they lamented to me as though I was their confessor) was… they didn’t always get what they wanted.  But because I never said, “Let me tell you about real problems… ” and instead took their problems seriously, they presumed I found their plight to be equally tragic and the worst thing I’d ever heard.

Now I know I sound a little heartless here, and I don’t mean to be.  If you don’t have the perspective to put the little annoyances in perspective, then it’s going to seem huge and horrible in your vision when you encounter them.  I get that.  But if there’s a continuum of tragedy, and death and rape are on one end, and a parking ticket is on the other… the death and rape end gets to shake their head at the parking ticket end when they start going on like they’re a cast member in Hamlet.

So, I’ve been scoffed at for not wearing my F**ked-Uppedness Cred on my sleeve, and it used to annoy the bejeezus out of me.  But I still couldn’t bring myself to do it.  I don’t know why.  It’s just not in me.

But I’ve come to the place where I Just Don’t Care and It Doesn’t Really Matter.

Think I’m a naive?  Go right ahead.  Think I’m BSing you when I say “I understand where you’re coming from”?  Scoff away!  Because I Just Don’t Care and It Doesn’t Really Matter.  I don’t feel the need to win some tragedy contest or earn Extra Horrifying Bonus Points.  If someone is in a place where they can hear what I have to say, then they’ll hear it.  If they’re not, then they’ll find some other excuse to not do so even if I gave them a detailed dossier of Why I Understand Your Pain.

This isn’t to say “my secrets will die with me!!!” as much as it is to say, you’re not going to hear my sob story twenty million times.  If something is pertinent to a conversation, and perhaps actually helpful to furthering the discussion, maybe I’ll share it.  But I’m not going to go around announcing it so that I have the immediate respect of the other F**ked-Uppedness Survivors in advance.  Because I shouldn’t have to.  I want people to judge me on my present, not my past.  If my words have value, they have value in the now, not because I have a good sympathy-garnering story to tell.

So, judge me how you will.  There will not be a Chapter One: Out of Darkness autobiographical horror story in The Book.  But hopefully a few folks will read it anyway.

And I will try really hard to not stare at the Cleavers of the world like they have antennae sticking out of their heads when they talk about how wonderful their life is, except for that awful day when June broke the heel of her shoe and skinned her knee.

Because isn’t wonderful what we’re all aiming for?

The Best of All Possible Worlds

For those of you familiar with The Law of Attraction, you know what I’m talking about when I say sometimes it feels “forced.”  I feel a little Candide in me, repeating over and over again that I Live In The Best Of All Possible Worlds, until I truly believe it.  Kind of like when you’re in a foul mood, and if you force yourself to smile, even if you don’t feel it at first, the physical act triggers the emotional feelings that normally accompany a smile (science!).  Some days, when it’s feeling forced, I can get over myself and just keep at it, confident that it does indeed work (it does).  Other days, I’ve got my grump on and I feel like I’m allowed to be grumpy today, godd***it!

When I’m having one of those “Get off my lawn!” days, once I have reveled in my pissed-offedness like a rebellious teenager and can see the path I’m headed down, I try to step outside of myself and look.  First, examine the little things that are teeing me off.  If I was in a good mood, would that really piss me off or be laughed off?  If the latter is the answer, then I have to look for the real reason for the grump.  I try to think of the possible logical reasons why I’m grumpy.  Is my blood sugar low?  Am I sleep deprived?  After so many years of dealing with those issues, I darn well know they can tank a mood faster than you can blink.  Sometimes the solution is as simple as eating a balanced meal.

But sometimes, it’s more deep-seated than that – especially for those of us who very purposefully are examining ourselves, our presumptions, our sense of self, our beliefs, etc., on a mission, as it were, to grow and better ourselves and by extension, the world around us; releasing thought patterns and learned behaviors that no longer serve us (and shedding physical manifestations of that baggage, to boot).  Sometimes, we unearth an old wound that we weren’t even aware of before – not consciously, anyway – and much like any wound, it festers unnoticed until pain elicits us to examine it.

Sometimes, that stubborn insistence of our right to be angry is the pain radiating from that wound we didn’t know was there.

It’s amazing how often I’ve discovered one of those old wounds, and upon examining it, gotten some message from the Universe relating to that very topic, seemingly out of the blue.  In my last post (linked above), I wrote about what I was feeling in the moment before I had had the “aha!” insight.  Shortly thereafter, while in tears to be perfectly honest, I got a message relating to that very thing that was so clear and blatant it couldn’t have been any more obvious if God had whacked me over the head with a baseball bat.  So there I was, having a low point, and I still got the positive response.  However, I was at the low point because I was “detoxing,” as it were.  For any of you who have done or have looked into doing a cleanse or otherwise detoxing, you’ve heard that as your body releases the old, stored toxins, sometimes it can cause what is known as a “health crisis” – that is, you feel sick from the icky things working their way through your system, but will be better off in the end as they will no longer be inside you to harm you in the future.  It’s kind of like that, which is why I figure the law of attraction didn’t attract negative things from my low mood.  I wasn’t letting the old pattern repeat itself – I was cleansing it from my system altogether.

Today I got another such message, from a friend’s Facebook post of all things, that wasn’t even directed at me, but it spoke to something I have been sparring with in my head for a while.  It was just such a perfectly relevant message, and put in just such a way that though I had “known” it before, it hadn’t truly “registered” – it pretty much floored me for a moment.  Sometimes you can “know” something, but not truly “comprehend” or “take it in.”  That was what this message was for me.  I can already feel the ripples making their way through my psyche, as the initial concept is accepted, and a domino effect of altering thought patterns occurs.

So though there are times when it may feel “forced,” keep at the positive thoughts.  When you hit a low, examine why, and be open to whatever reason may come.  If you’re spiritually detoxing, let the negativity be released.  You may have a health crisis of the spirit, but you will feel so much lighter and brighter in the end.

And don’t discount any source of insight as being “too trivial” – sometimes a Facebook post, a text message, or a tweet may be just the thing that gets the gears turning.

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