AN ESSAY ON HAPPINESS
Looney Tunes! That is what my dentist said makes him happy. He loves to hear the music that introduced his favorite cartoons when he was a boy. It brings back memories, he laughed, as he was getting ready to x-ray my bitewings.
As for me, my childhood was not a happy memory. I lived with two psychopaths—a mother and a sister. Life with them brought havoc and confusion. I had to learn how to tune in to my own silence where peace and beauty reigned. As a young child, I savored memories of walking to the Austrian pastry shop a few blocks around the corner from where I lived. I especially loved going there on a winter’s day when the snow was falling. The whole trip was a happy memory—especially the thoughts of those star-shaped sugar cookies. Once there, I gazed at the luscious cakes and pastries displayed behind the glass window. I did not have a dime to buy the tiniest cookie—just looking at them made me happy. To this day, I hold that happy memory inside of me and it still makes me smile.
What Keeps Us Happy?Nurturing the inner child within can be as simple as taking in our surroundings. The road I live on is heavily tree-lined without any street lanterns, making the road at night pitch black.
Every year as the Christmas season begins, we adorn our green mailbox with a string of tiny lights that flicker in the dark. Since we live in a rural setting, we seldom come in contact with neighbors; yet, every year we hear comments about our lights. One neighbor said, “The lights on your mailbox made me feel good,” while a lady out at night walking her dog said that when she came upon the twinkling lights on the mailbox, it gave her a warm happy feeling inside. To think something so simple should make such an impact. Maybe being happy is not so hard after all. Are we, ourselves, akin to flickering lights in a dark world?
What Keeps Us From Being Happy
Though my childhood was not a happy one, deep-rooted memories kept me afloat when I needed to fall back on them. Certain memories stuck in my mind like opening up a beautifully wrapped Christmas package that my godmother gave me and finding my very first pair of white figure ice skates with shiny silver blades. I was enraptured by the sight of it all. My godmother had a flare for decoration and made everything look beautiful. I will always remember the skates, the wrapping paper with its bright colors, and matching bow because they were a picture of beauty. All of us have a penchant for beauty. But somehow along the way beauty gets squelched for practicality. While we seek beauty, we tend to buy what is useful, and settle for less. Sometimes that can leave us less than happy.
My Daughter Says Color Makes Her Happy
My daughter bought a pair of suede roller skates that were fuchsia bright. When I saw the skates, I was surprised at her purchase. I reminded her of the robin’s-egg blue clogs that a cobbler had specially made for her when she was in middle school. She liked the clogs until she wore them to school and a boy in her class told her, “Those shoes are really bright!” After that, she balked about wearing her clogs and shied away from dressing in bright colors for fear of being criticized. Now, she was decorating her apartment in beach colors and sent me a photograph of her new bright-colored roller skates with a matching pink helmet. I called her to find out what made her change. “Be yourself,” she said. “I have come into my own and bright colors make me feel good. If something looks good and makes me feel confident, that is all that matters. Color makes me feel happy,” she said.
So, I guess we should not get rankled by what others think and our happiness should not depend upon others.
David the Gnome
Years ago, a cartoon series came out on television called The World of David the Gnome. I eagerly watched with my young son and we both looked forward to each show. David used his work as a doctor to serve others. He was wise in defeating the trolls at their games of mischief. The trolls were bigger than the gnomes and were bullies. What I found most interesting was the calm response David had in dealing with the trolls. He never reacted but responded sensibly, and in the end always defeated them. How many of us have trolls in our lives that keep us from true happiness? We keep reacting to their destruction and they seem to delight at upsetting us. The big secret is to let these people go by not allowing them to upset us. Instead, we should sensibly defeat these people by giving our energy to those who love and appreciate us. Now that will keep us truly happy!