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Your significant other left you, someone you loved died, you lost your job or career, your child/spouse/family member or friend is a drug addict/alcoholic, you suffer from mental health issues, you’re homeless, you’re abused, you’ve been gaslighted, your child is disabled/has issues/is different, you’ve been incarcerated and have to start over, your boss is nasty and vindictive, or anything else that made you sad.
80% of these things have happened to me. Some years, several of them simultaneously.
To be fair, most of what went wrong I chalk up to incredibly bad luck. I always say I’m like that old Flintstones character, Bad Luck Schleprock.
I also have to admit I’ve made some mistakes. Who hasn’t? We all make mistakes. I walked down the aisle twice knowing the man I was marching toward wasn’t right for me. The second time had devastating results. Some folks are equipped to make good decisions - strength, health, energy, wisdom, wise friends and family. Some of us don’t have those assets. And some of us have all of those assets and still make mistakes. Most important, there are ways to recover from misfortune and mistakes but some of us don’t know how.
The reason I decided to create this website, is that despite ongoing misfortune, most of the time I’m happy and live a fun life. My friends wonder how I could be happy amid my adversity? I assure you it’s not coincidence. I believe happiness is a choice. Well, let me be clear on that point. If you’re in a terribly sad situation, I well imagine you will be sad at times. I am. Sometimes it’s just too much for me, sometimes I'm terribly lonely and I have scary and unsettling flashbacks caused by triggers that fall in my path. However, I strongly believe that you can choose to be happy, at least part of your day, even in moments of true despair. And that’s exactly what I’ve chosen. It’s a choice I made many years ago, as my life with my very young son began to unravel.
Recently, I realized I could help others who feel sad, by sharing my strategies. As crazy as it sounds, there are times when you need a strategy to be happy. I realized that keeping me happy has many components. It’s like losing weight and keeping it off. There are quick weight loss ideas that will help you in the short term, but to stay at your ideal weight you need to make life changes.
Of course, you have to want to be happy. I’m not certain everyone does. Or I should say it’s not that important to everyone. I’ll talk more about that later.
I’m thinking this is a good time to insert a disclaimer or two.
First, I suffer from depression. Sadness is not depression. While you can be sad when you’re depressed, being sad does not necessarily mean you’re depressed. If you think you might be biologically depressed, you should think about finding a professional to help you. I take medication for my depression and in combination with my happiness strategies, it works so well that I don't often feel depressed. And when I am depressed it’s for short periods, perhaps a few hours. It's only now and then that it lasts beyond a day. It no longer affects my life as severely as it once did. Again, at times I’m sad, however, it’s not depression.
Second, I’m not trying to solve anyone’s problems. I surely wish I could, but I can’t. My ideas have helped me get through tough times and they might just work for you. Being happy, through my strategies, has also freed my mind from the sadness that slowed me down. Being happy for part of the day, even during the worst times, helped me to move forward.
And last, I am not a healthcare professional nor am I giving advice. I’m only sharing what’s helped me. As with other areas in your life, when you read something or a friend or family member speaks with you about a situation, you think about it for a while and if their ideas resonate with you, you add it to your mix of ideas. I don’t ever do anything that doesn’t feel right to me just because it seemed right to someone else. I learned that the hard way.
Oh, I almost forgot, I will tell a couple of my war stories, but in the end, it really doesn’t matter what I’ve gone through. What matters is what you’re facing and how you can be happy, at least part of the time, when you’re sad.
All right then, let’s get started.
The first thing I’d like to talk about is our right to happiness. It seems pretty basic to me. Everyone deserves to be happy. Still, I’ve met people that don’t embrace that. Or they think they deserve a happy life in general, maybe just not at the moment. Or they’ll say, they’ve tried and can’t put anything out of their mind. Or they’re too stressed to think about having fun. Or, they don’t care any more. Truly, I can’t relate to any of that. Not to sound harsh, but this is on you. By that I mean, you must think about what’s driving your feelings. Everyone not only deserves happiness, they can find it, at least in small spaces.
I suspect - since you’re reading this - you are looking for happiness. However, you may need to behave in a comfortable way for yourself and your life in your community. I’ve dealt with this myself. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve because I want to have a fun life and I don’t want to be defined by my misfortune. I don’t really care how anyone feels about that, however, because of your own circumstance within your community, you may need to care. I’m not judging how others deal with their misfortune and I find that folks who want to judge will judge no matter what I do. What I do know is that I need breaks from what ails me.
In 2016, when I left my second husband I stayed with a friend before I got my own apartment. After a few weeks there, knowing what I had been through with my husband and other issues I was currently confronting with my family and work, my friend asked me why she rarely saw me crying. I assure you it wasn’t because I didn’t cry. I cried when I was alone. The most important thing for me that summer was to escape. We lived by the beach, which gave me a beautiful respite. I did lots of other diverting and distracting things, as well, with friends, groups and on my own. I was well aware that each time I returned from my escape, my problems would be there to greet me.
Unbelievably, it was mostly a relaxing and fun summer. I don’t know what my friend thought of me enjoying the summer and honestly, it doesn’t matter. Had I hid in our apartment and wallowed in my problems I believe it would have been my undoing. It’s frightening to think about it.
As I said, my approach may not work in your circumstance. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a different kind of happiness. If you feel uncomfortable having fun in groups during a trying time, how about finding time on your own to find some peace? Judgmental people have parameters. They may not want to see you out drinking with friends, but they might applaud your effort if you take, a yoga or knitting class, both of which are great to take your mind off, well, everything.
One last thing. If you’re comfortable in your misery, even if it’s subconscious, I get it. Been there, done that. However, each time I found myself in one of those miserable, yet somehow safe ruts I remembered to find space where I could see a bright future despite what was happening in the present. My hope is that you figure out how to find your space, your respite, your solace.
So where are these moments of happiness, anyway?