Attitude adjustment is a necessary bridge to happiness. The familiar definition of Happiness is a by-product of helping someone else is true but it doesn’t provide solutions for every unhappy situation. Knowing others care about us contributes to a positive outlook because it’s a two-way street. We do receive joy when we encourage or help another. Ask anyone who’s ever served in a soup kitchen. What we do know, however, is that happiness is a choice.
“My husband promised to take care of me forever,” Rita cried after he died of heart failure. “I am not only lonely but mad at Melvin; he broke his promise.” Rita allowed grief and anger to control her by becoming anti-social, even with family, which hindered healthy healing from her grief.
Emerging from a loss or an unpleasant situation, often involving many difficult changes is not necessarily fun or easy for anyone but Intuitives, who are dreamers and enjoy variety seem to manage more easily than the Sensing segment who are more comfortable with keeping ‘things as they are’. But in any case, often words or actions from a friend lift a person who is stuck in the doldrums and moves them to adopt a more-positive attitude toward finding satisfying solutions.
Adopting and maintaining a positive outlook and discovering ways to neutralize adjustments to adverse and disappointing circumstances is satisfying but achieving happiness depends on personal resourcefulness and ingenuity, which we all possess to some degree. I’ve heard many clients in the throes of painful changes say “It is what it is.” That seems to be a level place to begin. In other words, we need to own what is ours to deal with in spite of whose fault it was. That’s what our mom did quietly as she accepted the fact that she had been deserted by a husband she loved to find a place to live and employment in order to take care of six children. She didn’t succumb to self-pity, but took one step at a time in a completely new life-style, and without complaint or accusations.
Poor attitudes shape daily experience whether it has to do with incumbent weather, company policies which demand understanding and patience, politics that go against your grain and keep people riled up all the time, to adult children who make other holiday plans that do not match your expectations. We just have to accept that being bypassed, ignored or outvoted are bitter pills common to man. Happiness that is based on expecting everything to always be the same or hinging on having one’s own way zig zag into unnecessary disappointments. Adhering to the old adage-‘It’s not the situation you’re in, but the attitude you take,’ although it’s true, does not lessen current disappointments or mistreatments on the spot, but is a wise and worthy attitude to embrace.
Extroverts are better known for observing ‘the glass is half full’ rather than ‘half empty’, but they, too, struggle at times with maintaining positive attitudes when plans go awry, or failures, defeats or frustrations descend. Learning to talk to ourselves and focusing on positive outcomes when confronted with disillusionment is the best way to maintain emotional balance. Since Jim is gone, I talk to myself pretty often. Considering what Jim would do is comforting. A simple way to add luster to a day when you may be alone with no plans to interact with others involves ‘thanks-praying’ as I named it when I recorded my original notes for a blog around Thanksgiving. Here’s what inspired this blog.
As I removed the hand-made bright blue fabric book binder kept taut by elastic around a blue designer triangle--shaped button from my devotional book I breathed a prayer for Kathy who made it. Bless Kathy this morning as she travels to the vet with her ailing Golden Retriever, and give the Vet wisdom in diagnosing his problem. Strengthen Kathy as she encourages her friend who is battling cancer.
Later, as I put the bag of wrapped candy from Judy away, I thought of how much I appreciate her for keeping me supplied from the special store where she shops and I pray Father, thank you for the 40 plus years of friendship with Judy. Give her wisdom and patience as she cares for her customers.
In preparation for painting the dining/all-purpose room, I carefully removed an old fashioned 50th anniversary plate my friend, Pat, sent to Jim and me in 2005. Every time I look at that plate, I thank God for Pat and our long-distance friendship. She’s caring for her husband who has dementia—a huge responsibility and selfless gift. I make a note to call her so we can hear each other’s voices-a beneficial indebtedness and source of joy and happiness.
The Amish clock that Jim and Roger put together years ago is too heavy for me to remove but it’s a good reminder of Jim each day with pleasant thoughts which lift my spirits immediately. I offer a prayer for Roger as a husband and father with a busy schedule of college teaching, writing, mission work and local church and for Elaine, his wife, who is equally involved with helping elderly patients. What a joy to pray!
“It takes someone special to be a grandmother” is embroidered on the pillow that my son, David, gave me years ago. It’s a perfect size for leaning on as I read in my swivel chair. The prayer for him is for wisdom and patience as he receives calls as a phone rep and for his wife, Jennifer who counsels at a hospital.
Prayer is an invisible connection and a very satisfying one indeed. Who do you think about as you meander around your home or look around in your car? As you notice or use gifts scattered throughout your dwelling, let the thoughts centered around the gift-givers ignite the joy of the relationships. Offer a prayer, write a note, make a call. Knowing that a gift is still appreciated pleases the gift giver and a source of joy.
Offering brief prayers when someone’s name sashays through your mind as you go through the day, will keep your focus off yourself and any loss or problem you might have. My two sisters-in-law on Jim’s side who also lost their husband’s this last year are on my mind daily because I know from personal experience how encouraging it is to know someone is praying for me. Phone visits permit us to cry together which is healing.
As I finished writing the rough draft a text message arrived from my daughter, Kay, “I’m on my way with a meal.” Lord, bless Kay as she ministers to so many, making time for their grandchildren and being sensitive to me as well. ‘People make the world go round’ as the saying goes, but the hidden joy of connective thoughts, appreciating gifts and prayers makes one’s day especially delightful and happy.
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Ps.5:3 (NIV)
…he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Prov. 11:25b (NIV)
May the God hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom. 15:13 NIV
I may not understand fully what you want me to say or do, Lord, but I want to be usable. Help me to trust your good and faithful character. Amen
No blog next week.