Ouch, when I read Dirk De Wachter’s book (a famous Belgian psychiater), I immediately start to feel guilty about my happiness (I have to admit that I started writing this after only 25 pages, so maybe some of the reactions are a bit premature, but I couldn’t hold back). Not that I always feel happy. On the contrary. I just had two tearful days. South wind, my friend would say. Complicated relationships and unfulfilled expectations, is my diagnosis. So I decide to ‘get myself together’, after all I am responsible for my own happiness. That, by the way, is the reason I am sitting here on a terrace. I followed Deepak Chopra’s advice (step 5: release the emotion through physical movement (translated into jump on your bike) and step 7: do something nice for yourself (freely translated in drink a Freddo Cappucino and eat an ice cream).
When I leave, I grab the thinnest book from the pile and it turned out to be ‘The art of being unhappy’.
And I think I’m not very good at that. After an unhappy childhood and years of therapy and personal development, I have reached a state of being that I would describe as happy. Sometimes I put it this way: I used to be unhappy with happy moments, now I’m happy with unhappy moments. So I think I’m better in the art of being happy. There are a few things that help me with. Three principles, so to speak.
Everything is a matter of perspective – what do you focus on?
As an example I’ll tell you about my recent experience, when I was in Belgium… I came home after midnight and drove three rounds in the neighborhood to find a parking spot. Finally, I parked around the corner, just past a scaffold. That scaffold should have turned on a light, but my light was already out….
When I came around the corner the next morning with two heavy bags on my shoulders and a coffee mug in the hand, I found an empty parking space and a whistling workman on the scaffold. Towed away…
A passerby smugly remarked, “Yes madam, if there’s a sign, you’re not allowed to park! I immediately pleaded guilty. ‘I didn’t see it, it’s entirely my own fault.’ A neighbor explained that often towed cars can be found at spot X… It had happened to him as well. I asked for directions and told him that I would jump on my bike to go look for him, because I had to go to work. The man responded: “wait two minutes” and he hurried off, grabbed his lunch, put on his shoes and less then ten minutes later he had dropped me off at my car. I arrived at work on time.
For a whole day I floated on clouds – such luck I had!
If there is something that makes me very unhappy, I try to change it.
If you can, of course, that depends on what the issue is. But you’d be amazed at how much you can control yourself. It doesn’t always happen overnight, this change. Patience is helpful in that regard.
For example, I noticed that the overloaded agenda that I had ‘put on’ myself when I was in Belgium was exhausting and didn’t really give me any satisfaction. So I immediately took some decisions to make the next stop in Belgium a little more bearable and promised myself to reconsider my choices about work and commitments. I know it’s not something that can be changed completely tomorrow, but I think in five years time, I will get things sorted out!
Everything is relative
Just because I (and by extension everyone else) post photos of the sun, doesn’t mean she’s always shining. For every picture of a picturesque spot here, I could also post a picture of a run-down place, abandoned garbage or poorly cared for animals… But who needs that?
I have thought about it though, to make a ‘shadow-profile’ and challenge myself to post another photo every day, in addition to the beautiful/positive picture. Perhaps that is an even greater challenge: to picture them well
Sometimes I feel a bit guilty that I only show beautiful images. But I assume that people realize that this is only a part of reality (but definitely indeed a part of reality!). It is as in a movie: you only get to see a part of life. You get to see people leaving and arriving, but not the long boring way. Or you see people kissing and recovering from a steamy lovemaking session immediately afterwards, but you don’t see ‘the going upstairs and discovering that your room is more messed up than you thought’ / taking off uncomfortable clothes / the ‘I have to go to the toilet first’ or ‘ouch, you’re on my hair’… And we all know that that might be in between too.
So yes, I am happy. And probably that makes it easier for me to bear misfortune in general. Because at the end of the book (yes, I am one of those people who already reads the end, even though she’s only on page 20;-)) it says in very large letters: ‘It is the ethical duty of the happy person, who comes from a warm nest and who is liked and who is doing well, to see the inconvenience of the world and do something about it’.
So I try to send some fractions of happiness out into the world. By posting my photographs. And sometimes through a little story or a blog like this one. I hope it may contribute a millimeter to your happiness! And I won’t feel guilty, but I’d like to share!