Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Today’s DailyOM talks about happiness not being the same as being free from worry or problems.

It’s so true.  Choosing to be happy doesn’t mean the problems aren’t there, it doesn’t de-value the problems, or mean that they aren’t significant.

Nor does choosing to be upset about the problems, and worrying about them, make the problems MORE significant.  Spending time in “Oh woe is me land” does not mean my problems are worse or more problematic.

What dwelling in the problem does, is rob me of the energy to cope with something I cannot change.  And it robs of me of the ability to change that which I can.

And it just doesn’t matter what the issue is or the nature of the problem.  When we focus on the worry, pain, upset, fear, you-name-it-insert-emotion-here, we’re no longer able to change it, or accept it or move on.

If we CAN make a change, then our energy should be in bringing that change about.
If we cannot make a change, then we are best served by accepting and then working around the situation.

And yes, you are free to (and welcome to) remind of this when I get to “oh woe is me-ing”!

Best illustration of all this is my Mom.  Many years ago, it was clear to many people that her health would betray her.  Some of that is genetics, much of that is due to choices she made in relation to her health and the way she took care of her body.  But it is what it is.

So as she progressed along the path of poor health, I tried to help her cope with each new disability she faced.  I attempted to help her make the subtle changes and use the tools available that would allow her to remain as independent and mobile as possible, for as long as possible.  Her consistent response, every time, be it something big or something small, was “No”.  She didn’t want to give in to it, and didn’t want it to be her reality.

No shit Sherlock.  Me neither.  Never wanted a crippled Mom.  And since I can’t change that reality, let’s accept where you are now and find ways to work around it and allow you the opportunity to still do all that you want and need to do.  It almost seemed that if she complained about the problem she thought it would go away.

No such luck.  She’s a hard egg to crack.  And so now, some years later, she’s slapped in the face with even worse and more debilitating disability, and no way to cope.  And another choice –to go live in a foreign place with my sister – adds to the difficulty.  And I have figured out why she did that.  My sister, not able to accept Mom’s reality any more than Mom could, was telling Mom what she wanted to hear.  And Mom, wanting to believe that fantasy rather than deal with reality, bought into it.  And now they are both miserable.  And I can’t help them.

In the midst of all this, I choose to be happy.  I will not allow this drama to impact my happiness.  Oh sure, I have compassion for them, and will continue to put my energy into doing whatever I CAN do to assist and help.  But I will not allow their need to grumble about reality and be unhappy drag me down.  I just want to yell at them to choose happiness.  Paste a blankety-blank smile on your face whether you feel like it or not.  It certainly can’t hurt the situation.  Won’t make it better, but neither will moaning about how awful it is.

I get that we can’t all be practical people who just get on with things.  Some of us aren’t wired that way.  But I refuse to accept that we do all have to choose misery instead of happiness.  And knowing that I can’t choose another person’s issues for them, and I can’t make someone be happy, all I can do is focus on keeping my own equilibrium and happiness intact.

Not always easy, my heart aches for people.  One of O/our friends once told me (when I was crying over her break-up with her master) that I always was the one in our group who felt things.  It’s true, my ability to feel the emotions of loved ones can be a disability if I’m not careful.  I have to remind myself that it’s one thing to be happy for someone or sad for someone, and another thing altogether to internalize those feelings.

But one of the ways I cope is through readings like the DailyOM which help keep me grounded, and through this blog.  The place where I can let it all spew, knowing that it’s always better out than in! ;)



  1. Tapestry, you have no idea how gratifying it is to me to find someone else talking of choosing to be happy. Almost everyone thinks that happiness and unhappiness are not a matter of choice but always depend on your situation. With certain situations you have to be unhappy; with others, you can be happy.

    I bore and upset unhappy people by telling them that happiness is an inside job. It depends on you and what is going on inside you.

    I concede there are some situations in which it may be very difficult to be happy. That brings me to wondering if the pursuit of happiness is a worthy undertaking. Isn't it better to be indifferent to ones emotional state? One can still be serene even if unhappy; and trying for happiness can lead to disappointment.

    My thoughts on this matter are only half-baked, I realise this; I am just trying to sort them out.

    Few people in this blog universe have the positive outlook you have, and I am glad to read your writings.

  2. Well I am honored indeed, thank you very much for your kind words.

    I would add this disclaimer - I have to work at the positive attitude. And since I'm a mere mortal with deep flaws, I do not always succeed. Generally, when I write about it here? It's because I'm trying to re-remind myself.

    Perhaps one of the tricks is not trying to be happy about the situation, but acknowledging that the situation does indeed suck. And now, since it sucks, what can I do to change it? And then get busy creating the change. Or, if it's something that simply has to be accepted, get to work accepting. A good way to do that for me is to refocus my attention and energy elsewhere.

    That all said, I will concede there are some things that are just sad. I've recently lost a dear friend. And it's sad. Death sucks. And, I choose to celebrate her life, and the influence she had on me, and the gift of her presence in my life. That outlook is the only thing that makes loss bearable for me. It's how I handled losing my Dad prematurely, and even how I handled losing a beloved pet (who was a soul mate in so very many ways.)

    So yes, the situation sucks, and it's ok (and healthy to feel sorrow) and it's also ok and healthy to feel joy at the gift of what I experienced before the loss happened.

    And I guess all this wordiness of mine is a way of saying you're surely right. Pursuing happiness, not so important. Seeking peace and serenity? Uber important.

    Peace to you.