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Happiness . . . Check It Out March 5, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Humor, Mindfulness, Spirit & Ego.

Some people are so focused on what others think about them that they become prisoners to public opinion.

Case in point:  My friend . . . um, let’s call her “Ethel.”   

Ethel is an eternal pessimist, an Eeyore.  She sees the glass as half empty, even if it is 98% full. 

Ethel is rarely happy with the current state of affairs.  She  looks at obstacles as insurmountable burdens, rather than as  opportunities to flex her spiritual muscles.   In short, she is a sad sack. 

To her, breaking a favorite thermos is a disaster. 

An undelivered package is a catastrophe.  

She is so focused on the occasional snag, that she misses the grand tapestry of life. 

Even when life is overwhelmingly positive, she actively looks for the tarnish. 

For example, if a DJ played 15 songs in a row that she loved, and only one that she disliked, Ethel would want to tell me about that one awful song ~ even  when prompted to talk about the other 15.

Over the years, I’ve given Ethel tips and techniques designed to remind her to stay in the moment, count her blessings, and let life unfold ~ to no avail. 

Ethel listens to everything I have to say, nods knowingly, agrees that my suggestions make perfect sense . . . and promptly allows those suggestions to evaporate into the atmosphere. 

Instead of practicing meditation, using visualization, or relaxing with positive affirmations, Ethel relies on a crutch, a cheat sheet, whenever she is feeling angry, sad, hurt, or disgruntled with life. 

Instead of picking up the remote to change the negative thoughts racing through her mind, she picks up the phone and calls me . . . to ask me to change the channel for her!  

I keep telling her that her happiness is her responsibility, not mine, but she refuses to believe me, “Nothing cheers me up as much as talking to you.”

One day, I suggested that she walk over to the library and check out some books on happiness ~ just in case my line was busy when she called.

Her response?

“I can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“I would feel too self-conscious.”

“Ethel, I’m not asking you to check out the Kama Sutra.  Just a few books on increasing the happiness in your life.”

“No, I would worry about what the librarians thought of me.”

“Who cares what they think?”

“I do.”

“Well, why do you think they would they look at you negatively for checking out books on happiness?”

“Well, they would wonder why I needed them.”

“No, they wouldn’t.  And what if they did? ~ if they don’t want you to be as happy as you can be . . . why worry about what they think?”

Why, indeed?

Don’t be a prisoner to public opinion ~ design the life of  your dreams. 

No rules.  Just write!


1. aardvarkian - March 5, 2010

Your poor friend would probably be miserable if she had to pay ten dollars for a winning lottery ticket. I know people like her – too many of them, actually. I find they suck the life out of good situation.

2. nrhatch - March 5, 2010

Just so.

When we become more aware of their Modus Operandi, we learn to “suit up,” and establish boundaries . . . without boundaries, these energy drains (vampires?) vaccuum the life force right out of us. : )

The best boundary: realizing we don’t have to adopt their problems as our own.

3. Graydon Archer - March 5, 2010

I believe that, if not restricted by some unforseen set of circumstances, people can for the most part, be as happy as they choose to be. For I also believe that all of our emotions are to a great extent,
a matter of choice. I do not believe that any negitive emotions are a
prerequisite to life.

4. nrhatch - March 5, 2010

I agree. We learn to view the world at a young age through the lens of experience ~ in time, the way we view the world becomes “habit.”

Often, deeply ingrained habit.

Once we become aware of negative habits, especially in our thought patterns, we can choose to modify them.

The modification process is simple ~ but its application is difficult, because we must practice, practice, practice.

For many, it is easier to just keep viewing the world through their habitual lens, rather than remembering to put on their rose colored glasses.

Thanks for sharing!

5. Graydon Archer - March 5, 2010

I don’t think I thanked you for your gracious invitation to join you on this site, so let me do so now. Thank you and thanks for thinking of me. It means a great deal to this ol “hippie”

6. nrhatch - March 5, 2010

Peace, man! : )

Thanks for joining us.

7. Shirley - March 6, 2010

Everyone knows someone like Ethel and I am ashamed to admit at time I fall into that old pattern myself from time to time.

Starting a gratitude journal really helped it helps me to see all the good in my life and recognize all the things that are important to me.

Now if I see that old Ethel attitude coming back I can quickly turn it around. : )

nrhatch - March 6, 2010

Shirley, you have inspired me.

Today’s post will be about developing an attitude of gratitude. Thanks!

I’ve also posted a link to your amazing site in my blog roll.


8. Graydon Archer - March 6, 2010

On numerous occasions through my life, I have tried to be the “director of the play”. This left an all to bitter taste on my tongue. I have sense learned that the only thing I can control are my own actions.

I have also learned, (although I was a reluctant malcontent while learning it) that there is a God. And I’m not it. Ah! A bitter pill to swallow. But I swallowed it none the less. And suddenly, I was content in just being the best I could be. Not the person the dogmatic masses would have me be.

To “live and let live” is so easy to say. But I’ve found it nearly impossible to live up to it.

nrhatch - March 6, 2010

Excellent points!

When we relinquish futile attempts to control, we reclaim our peace of mind. When we focus on being who we want to be, we reclaim power we were giving away to others.

And generally “the changes” don’t last . . . and we find ourselves in a heap at the bottom of the mountain yet again. But each time we climb it, the assent is faster. Eventually, we can move from the bottom to the top just by deciding that is where we would rather be.

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