I have been off the grid for about a week or so. In that time, I’ve jotted down thoughts on things to write about, and things that I need to get to. I have also taken some time to just step back and read. I have read some of the book I got for my upcoming birthday, I have read some articles that I have archived in my “read it later” folder, and I have read the occasional article that pops up on http://www.msn.com.
In a recent article about the worst songs ever recorded, the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was mentioned. This was a big song in 1988. It was the first all acapella song to go to #1 on the Billboard charts. It had a positive message and the music video had an energetic Robin Williams in it. A music professor was asked to look at these “bad” songs and analyze them. He found that this song was actually a “very good song”.
The article made me stop and think about happiness. Happiness had been something my life was lacking for quite some time up until recently. I was going through the motions. I was in a state of constant struggle in almost every aspect of my life. I was surrounded by negativity and was always made to feel that I was no good. Nothing I did was ever good enough. I was looking down a long and dark tunnel and I could not see the light. I felt as though I was a failure in so many ways. I was in a state of depression and unhappiness. I was at a point in my life where I was thinking that it would be best if I wasn’t here anymore. I felt like a burden to so many people. I couldn’t handle it anymore.
With Facebook, it seems like we try our best to make others believe we are something we are not. Who has the better house or car? Who has more designer shoes? What does my neighbor have that I can be jealous of? With social media, you can make yourself look pretty damn good. You can post the right things and post pictures with fake smiles. To the outside world, your life looks ok. No one really knows the troubles you are facing. No one knows the sadness that eats away at you each and every minute. No one knows how close you are to saying, “Enough is enough. I can’t take this anymore!”
Philosopher Daisaku Ikeda said, “Everything begins with the resolve to take the first step. From that action, wisdom arises and change begins. Without action, nothing changes.” The resolve to take the first step came from an unlikely source, and at a time I wasn’t expecting it. I was told, “You are such a good father to your sons. They are so lucky to have you in their lives”. THAT statement, prompted the change. I knew that there was no way I could ever leave them without their father, at least by my own power.
I first realized that before I could make everything else in my life better, I had to “fix me.” I began seeing a therapist and examining my life. From the outside looking in, I could see the things, situations, and people who were a constant source of negativity. Once I took that step, and began weeding the negatives out of my life, I started to see the light at the end of that tunnel. Depression began to vanish. Sadness began to make way for happiness. Frowns were replaced by laughter and happiness.
Happiness is important. When the Founding Fathers of this country were drafting the Constitution, they stated that an “unalienable right” was our pursuit of happiness. If it is so important, though, how come so many people have trouble finding it? A 2017 Time magazine article found that only one third of Americans are truly happy. Only one third?!
Science has done many studies regarding happiness and what makes us happy. Google it – there are many of them to chose from. What science has discovered is that WE are in control of our own happiness. One study stated that “success doesn’t bring happiness, rather happiness brings about success”. Science has also found that we are in control over what we root our happiness in – the movies we watch, the music we listen to, and the people we hang around with are all within our control, and can bring about happiness.
My life has done a complete 180. I am happier than I have ever been. It is a good thing. Many will look at my life (and yours too) and judge me. Let them. Let them judge. Let them talk. Once you realize that it doesn’t matter what people think of you, there is a burden that is lifted. Once you take time to enjoy true happiness and the little things in life that you never noticed because of negativity and worry, your heart is light. When you empty the bad things and replace them with good things, you experience love, joy, and happiness in an entirely new way.
All of that is within YOUR control. I know this to be true. I wrote this blog today so it will be an inspiration to those who are unhappy. I wrote it to prompt those who are afraid to take that first step. I wrote it to tell those thinking about suicide, that “ending it” is NOT the way out. Your happiness is up to you. The great comedian, Groucho Marx, said, “Each morning when I open my eyes, I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead. Tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.” This is the attitude that I am challenging myself to have each and every day and I challenge you to do the same!
This concept is nothing new to me. Over 30 years ago, I remember my band director asking someone why they were in such a bad mood. I remember he said “You have to work hard to stay in a bad mood. It’s easier to be happy. Why wouldn’t you choose to be happy instead? It takes more energy to be in a foul mood, and it makes people not want to be around you. Try being happy, and I bet you’ll find you like it better.” I don’t know why that moment from 30 years ago is so etched in my mind, perhaps it is because it took me this long to realize the truth in it.
They say: “Never put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.” I agree. They also say: “If you have the power to make someone happy – Do it! The world needs more of that.” I agree with that statement even more. Imagine a world where happiness abounds!! Wouldn’t the world be a better place if more than one third of people were truly happy?
Thank you for those who helped me to find happiness again. Thank you for saving my life. Thank you for reading. Now, go….and be happy!! (If you need a few ways to do that: https://www.lifehack.org/570376/15-things-stop-doing-you-want-truly-happy)