“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” –Aristotle
So many times, I see people drowning in the humdrum day-to-day boredom of making a living, raising the kids, being tired, cleaning the house, doing laundry, doing it all over again. I believe it’s so very important to rise above these mundane things and focus on getting out of that negative rut. If you find that every word out of your mouth (or in your head) is in a negative vein, please, please, please take a hard look at what you’re doing to yourself and to those around you. There is nothing more soul-crushing.
There’s a song that was written by Ada Blenkhorn in 1899, I understand, but it more recently came to my attention as a part of the 2000 movie named “O Brother Where Art Thou.” It’s become one of my favorite sing-alongs in the car!
Keep On The Sunny Side of Life
Written by Ada Blenkhorn in 1899. Music by J. Howard Entwisle.
“There’s a dark and a troubled side of life There’s a bright and a sunny side, too. Tho’ we meet with the darkness and strife The sunny side we also may view.
[chorus] Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side, Keep on the sunny side of life It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life.
Tho’ the storm in its fury broke today, Crushing hopes that we cherished so dear; Storm and cloud will in time pass away The sun again will shine bright and clear.
Let us greet with a song of hope each day. Tho’ the moments be cloudy or fair. Let us trust in our Saviour always. Who keepeth everyone in His care.”
The writings of Dr. Travis Bradberry also came across my path recently and I’m loving his take on the things we need to eliminate from our lives if we are to embrace the happiness that awaits each of us (and it does await!). I’m sharing a shortened version of his list here, although many of his articles and viewpoints are available for anyone to research online in greater detail:
- Immunity to awe. Amazing things happen around you every day if you just take notice. It’s hard to be happy when you just shrug your shoulders every time you see something new. Let yourself be amazed.
- Blaming. We need to feel in control of our lives in order to be happy, which is why blaming is so incompatible with happiness. When you blame other people or circumstances for the bad things that happen to you, you’ve decided that you have no control over your life, which is terrible for your mood.
- Controlling. It’s hard to be happy without feeling in control of your life, but you can take this too far in the other direction by making yourself unhappy through trying to control too much. This is especially true with people. The only person you can control in your life is you. When you feel that nagging desire to dictate other people’s behavior, this will inevitably blow up in your face and make you unhappy.
- Criticizing. Judging other people and speaking poorly of them is a lot like overindulging in a decadent dessert; it feels good while you’re doing it, but afterwards, you feel guilty and sick. Sociopaths find real pleasure in being mean. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make us feel better. It just creates a spiral of negativity.
- Complaining. Complaining is troubling, as well as the attitude that precedes it. Complaining is a self-reinforcing behavior. By constantly talking—and therefore thinking—about how bad things are, you reaffirm your negative beliefs. Beyond making you unhappy, complaining drives other people away.
- Impressing. People will like your clothes, your car, and your fancy job, but that doesn’t mean they like you. There’s an ocean of research that shows that material things don’t make you happy. Focus on friends, family, and taking good care of yourself.
- Negativity. Life won’t always go the way you want it to, but when it comes down to it, you have the same 24 hours in the day as everyone else. Happy people make their time count. Instead of complaining about how things could have been or should have been, they reflect on everything they have to be grateful for. Then they find the best solution available for the problem, tackle it, and move on.
- Hanging around negative people. Complainers and negative people are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. Life is too short to associate with people like this. Cut them loose.
- Comparing your own life to the lives people portray on social media. The result of one study showed that the participants who stayed off of Facebook for a period of time reported a significantly higher degree of satisfaction with their lives and lower levels of sadness and loneliness. The thing to remember about Facebook and social media in general is that they rarely represent reality. Partake in social media sparingly and with a grain of salt.
- Neglecting to set goals. Having goals gives you hope and the ability to look forward to a better future, and working towards those goals makes you feel good about yourself and your abilities. Without goals, instead of learning and improving yourself, you just plod along wondering why things never change.
We can’t control our genes, and we can’t control all of our circumstances, but we can rid ourselves of habits that serve no purpose other than to make us miserable. I will continue to remind myself of all of these things and hope you will too.
Emotional Intelligence 2.0
O Brother, Where Art Thou?