terribleturnip: (Goat)
[personal profile] terribleturnip
Hey, you want to be happier person?

I have some hints. Hard to believe, especially if you know me, that a misanthropic curmudgeon like me could possibly be happy, much less school other people in happiness. But seriously, I totally can.

Despite my growly attitude, I find things that make me deliriously happy every day. And I wallow in those like a a pig in mud. Although to be fair, a pig would actually prefer a fly free environment and clean bedding. But let's not get distracted by animal husbandry.

Hey, there are plenty of people who have it way worse than I do. Playing "whose got more troubles" it is a pointless exercise. Of course someone's got it worse. However, let me assure you that the fact that the guy on the other side of the emergency room has two broken arms does not actually make your broken arm any less trouble. So, yes, I am armpit deep in misery and woes and obstacles and the only saving grace of working and volunteering so hard is that I only have so much time to wallow and feel sorry for myself.

So, whatever. But all of the shit I'm struggling with, and more, plus a personality that is basically irritated at the very existence of humanity, I'm still actually a very happy person.

Because you know that work I put into everything else? I also put that into the happy making as well.

It doesn't come naturally to some of us, my friend. Oh, some people are just naturally happy. Fuckers. That is not me. Maybe it's not you. You should feel okay about that, but seriously, you might have to work it, just like me. I've got more than three hints, but since I honed my merchandising skills working at Conran's Habitat, it's three or five, always. And I don't have time for five today.


#1.
Create a happy place. A safe place, a sanctuary. My thing is my deck. Which honestly, is a shithole. Seriously, I'm afraid to powerwash it because I think the mold and dirt are the only things that are keeping the whole thing from collapsing. But I've filled it with planters that have colors and textures that make me happy. I've a plant that makes flowers that look like vampire bat faces, a jasmine whose scent makes me swoon, a baby olive tree because I think olive leaves are stunningly beautiful. A fig tree so that I can occasionally steal a fig from the wasps and squirrels. All sorts of plants that feed the birds, bees and butterflies. I can sit there and just be intrinsically happy because colors/textures and fufilling needs are things that make me happy.

I kept feeling inadequate about the crappy deck, which is attached to the crappy addition and bordered by the rusty chain link fence, all of which need to be dealt with, until I had an acquaintance over one evening and she said "Oh, you'e created a beautiful little sanctuary here." It helped me see beyond the work that needed to be done, the warping picnic table...that I should feel happy and proud of what I created, even it it wasn't perfect.

Hey, you could be into gaming -- and you've got a corner of a room or a room and you create the perfect setup. What do you want to see, what do you want to be surrounded with. Your roomate, spouse, SO does NOT have to like your stuff. If that Frazetta poster rocks your world, than save up, use a coupon, go get it framed and hang it in your space. If a cozy bedroom to retreat to, to read in bed, nap, whatever, then yeah, what are the colors and texture that make you happy -- dark colors, sunny colors, splurge on a pillow or new sheets. Stop worrying about all of the other things that need to be done/fixed and have at least one corner that makes you happy. Personally, everytime I see Stubb's Whistejacket painting, I'm gobsmacked. So I found a good reproduction, saved my spare change and am nearly ready to throw down some doss to get it framed. And I'll hang it in my bedroom where I can see it before I got to bed and when I wake up, because every time i look at it, I'm happy.

Make a happy space and then give yourself permission to enjoy it -even if you have to set a bloody alarm and commit to just 15 minutes of enjoyment.

#2.
When they say slow down and stop to smell the roses...that's actually brilliant advice. Although don't be me, lose your balance and fall into the damn rose bush. This is why I try to grow things that don't have teeth. But seriously. You get caught up in the big stuff and forget that there's little beautiful, enjoyable stuff all of the time. This afternoon I looked up and the clouds were so white and fluffy, the sky so blue, the air so clear that it was breathtaking. And yeah, of course I had something "better" to do. But just sitting there and looking at it, making a point to enjoy it? That's a NEEDFUL thing. Find a small thing that you find pleasure in and indulge it -- a special tea, a vase of cut flowers, find a mug for your coffee that's a beautiful glaze or shape. Your life might suck right now in myriad ways. But look at that coffee mug...someone poured their heart and soul into making it, the depth of color is amazing and it's in your hand. Worry about the rest of the stuff later. For now, look what you've got. Look at that mug, isn't it fabulous? Look at the intricacies of that bunch of lilies. Isn't it cool that flowers like that exist? You've got art hanging on your wall, when was the last time you sat and really looked at?

Stop thinking that achieving the big goal is the thing that will make you happy. If you don't learn to appreciate the little gifts, if you can't ring joy out of those...the big accomplishment probably won't make you happy either.

#3.
Here's a harder one: Take joy in other people's joy.

Now, I'm not talking about taking joy in making other people happy. If you're not already doing that already, you may be an asshole. Maybe you are, but you're phoning it in. Step up your game, my friend. You don't have to be a joy vampire like I am (hat tip to [livejournal.com profile] thatliardiego for introducing me to that term) but seriously, you need to pay that shit forward. But now I'm talking about someone else's joy that you had no part in.

Okay, so it's definitely human nature to judge. That's why reality television is so popular -- you can watch those people doing a thing, being horrible, or being a screw up or being dumb and feel better about yourself. My take-away from the Real Housewives series (I will admit to having watched three different episodes) is that well, okay, they might have more money than I do, and they may look better than I do, but I'm clearly a nicer person, plus my face still moves because it's not all jacked up with Botox.

But seriously, how superior do you need to feel on a daily basis? Try and kick that addiction. The other day I was at the gas station and a older man got out of the car behind me and he had on these crazy floral print shorts. And by crazy, I don't mean fun crazy. I mean like the kind of floral pattern you'd see on your grandmother's couch maybe, chintz or something. And the cut was...I dunno, they really didn't look like men's shorts. And there was my brain, starting to all knot up in judgment, dude, those look a little ridiculous. And then I thought "you know what, he got up this morning and decided to wear those shorts. He LIKED the way they look." And then I thought, why the fuck not? You rock those shorts, sir! Good for you for doing what you want. And you know what - I felt a great sense of relief, followed by the happy. It made me smile all day.

It's a natural reaction to push away the thing we don't understand, to diminish or ridicule. The music, the fashion - pretty much anything kids are doing some geezer disapproves of. "It's all utter crap...in MY day we had real music." Oh, seriously, is your memory that bad? Because when you were a teenager that music that you now treasure, yeah, your elders thought was crap. You think walking around with your pants hanging down around your butt is dumb? Go page through some old magazines, my friend, because I don't know that kids today have a corner on dumb trends.

Here's the thing: You don't have to like it yourself in order to appreciate that it other people do. If it's making someone else happy, quit raining on their parade. It's THEIR thing, not yours -- take joy in their joy. I used to think that fan fiction was sort of dumb - like, how could you be so obsessed, move on, get a life, you know those are imaginary characters, right? But here's the thing: when I got to know people who were into it, I found that they were creating beautiful works of art, and poetry, and fiction. (And some utter crap, to be honest -- but you know what? They felt inspired and were creating a thing. WHO THE FUCK AM I TO JUDGE?

Look I haven't lost all of my curmudgeonhood -- I will still judge your bad decisions, your bad choices, your stupid attitudes. And sometime I have to judge someone's performance. But ask yourself, if criticism, or sneering or belittling starts to rise in you -- am I tearing this person down to make me feel superior? Does whatever they're doing affect me or harm someone else? Are they happy in this thing? Happier than I am?

Then maybe I should just take joy in their joy.
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