It’s Not Always Easy To Be Happy
I have always said that Happiness is a choice. You can actively pursue happiness, or you can choose to be a victim of unhappiness. No matter who we are, where we come from – we can always choose happiness. You may have heard about the documentary “Babies” where they filmed babies from all over the world in their first year of life. And they found that the babies who had very little, like the little African baby who would lay in the dirt and play with sticks and rocks was just as happy, if not more so, than the babies from First World Countries who had everything they could possibly want (in terms of toys, food, shelter etc) and more.
So intrinsic happiness is about making the most out the cards you are dealt with – no matter what those cards are.
But there is also a level of happiness (or indeed UNhappiness) that comes from external factors. These are different for everyone. I get IRRITATED by things, but they rarely make me UNHAPPY. Usually because I remove myself from the irritating situation (or person!).
Recently I have felt the walls of Happy Nat World starting to constrict me – suffocating me. Because there has been so many things being discussed recently in the media that I can’t control, or remove myself from.
I think it all started with the Australia Day protests. The media hyped it up (of course), and on a day of what should have been about celebrating just how great out country is, I heard some of the most racist and hateful comments all over the media.
And then the smacking debate…let me be completely upfront and say I do not think smacking is the best way to discpline a child. I agree 100% that we should be looking at providing parents with better support and programs so that they feel like they have other choices. I also think it’s wonderful to have an INTELLIGENT discussion about the topic – especially before any laws are brought in (see Gemma’s post from My Big Nutshell for an educated and objective point of view). But then a national business (a butcher no less) sent out a newsletter to every single one of their customers (and also posted on Facebook) saying:
I don’t smack my kids, I just use a belt (and my wife uses a wooden spoon). Now I know this comment will really offend some people (get over it!) because the thought of a law being implemented to tell me that I can’t smack my children offends me even more.
I just felt sick. I started reading the comments and had to stop because I couldn’t read through my tears – especially when one person wrote that they often wished they could smack a stranger’s child who was screaming in the shops.
The last straw was when the incredible blogger Eden, from Edenland invited everyone to share breastfeeding photos on her Facebook page as a way of standing up for all the Mums who had had their pictures deleted and accounts closed for sharing these offensive and “pornographic” images. This morning she had the first of her photos deleted and was asked to remove the rest of them, or run the risk of her page being shut down.
My heart was starting to hurt.
So today I decided I am actively pursuing happiness. There’s a whole lot of crappiness in the world. There are awful, horrible people, who have some terrible things to say. I can’t change them. But I Can DO more. I Can BE better. And this morning I took every single opprtunity I could to be nice, and kind, and happy, and considerate. But I wanted to be able to show some kindness to not just my friends but also to strangers – to tell some random person that they matter.
As I was driving home from school, I couldn’t stop thinking about how on earth I would be able to do this (especially as I was spending the day at home!)…
And then right in front of me, on the main road near my house, was an elderly man, holding a Street Directory, and trying to wave down cars. Trucks and cars were just passing him by. I waved to him as I turned into a side street, and he started to hobble over. I have to admit that as a woman, and with sleeping Lucy in the back, I started to wonder if I was making one of those dangerous mistakes that they warn you about. But I knew in my heart it was OK. As he reached my window, he tried to tell me in broken English where he wanted to go, and pointing to the map. Thankfully I knew where he was going, and I could explain where he had gotten lost and how get to his destination.
As he nodded with understanding, he said “thank you thank you, so kind“.
He walked away. And I wound up my window. And I sat there and cried.
On the day when I needed it most, a random stranger allowed me to be the change that I was hoping to see in the world. We are rarely given such an opportunity so perfect, so well-timed to restore our faith in the power of kindness. Because I can assure you that what I got out of this situation was a whole lot more than that gentleman.
So I can’t change others, and I can’t make the “badness” disappear. But I can do little things, one step at a time, and reclaim the happiness in Nat-World.