I know some people that are never happy. Nothing ever is as good as it should be. People never measure up to the high standards that they set for others. Institutions such as government, bureaucracy, religion, the media, and what have you always fall short. They constantly feel that life is drudgery- life is constantly going from bad to worse- we are going to hell in handbasket. I am sure as I have written this paragraph you can think of a few people who fit into this category. "That's Uncle George or Aunt Ruby."
Other people just seem to be on such a different reality that nothing seems to bother them. They could emerge from under the rubble after a nuclear strike and say- "Oh my, look at all the possible new real estate possibilities." They seem oblivious to the hurts and pains of the world and can only see balloons and unicorns. This description might be a bit extreme, but I think all of us know people who happily live in the land of never, never.
Most of us though, live somewhere in between. We know that life is not all bad. We know that we have been blessed in many ways and are thankful for that. We have watched before as the pendulum has swung from disaster to wonder and back again. We trust that the pendulum has not got stuck and will continue to swing. We also know that life can't always be good. There are thorns amongst the roses. Life is a series of ups and downs, opportunities and challenges. All of us hope for more good luck and bad, but we know that life is full of change.
In thinking about this middle ground, of living between hope and despair, I think it is time for me to list rules for how we can be happy. Here goes:
1. Be concerned about the way you treat others. If you treat others with respect and dignity, others will treat you with respect and dignity. If you project hate, others will project hate.
2. Set reasonable expectations for yourself and others.
3. Know that your life is not controlled by the fates. Good things happen, bad things happen, but they can never be predicted. There are no such things as hot streaks. Bad luck does not necessarily obey the rules and come in threes. Sometimes one bad thing happens and that's it. Others go from disappointing news to disappointing news and it never seems to end.
4. Some people naturallly start from a point of anger, or fear of a stranger, or hate for those who are different. If you are strong enough, challenge them on these feelings. If you are not strong enough, keep your distance when you possibly can.
5. Remember, yesterday was never perfect. We often remember the good things and not the bad but in reality there were highs and lows. The future won't be perfect either. There will be things that will go right in the future and things that will go wrong. For every advance, there will be a mistake as well. So don't put as much pressure on yourself to make today perfect. It may be wonderful but it won't be perfect.
6. I am not being a pollyanna here, but we do learn from our mistakes and misfortunes. Sometimes the lessons are very hard. Sometimes bad things happen and we don't learn anything from it. But sometimes, a setback is a time to re-examine and re-evaluate. Sometimes challenges help us grow.
7. Try to think about one thing you are thankful for the first thing in the morning. Give yourself one easy task that you can complete. No matter how bad the rest of the day is, and no matter how long your to do list is, you will have done something good.
8. Don't be afraid to try something new. Be willing to laugh at yourself when you fail.
9. Seek out people who like to laugh. Seek out happy people.
10. Re-read books that have uplifted you. Watch your favourite film over again.
11. Find something that you enjoy. Go out and do it.