The Shepherd

Image by:  Rafael Ramos Fenoy
Image by: Rafael Ramos Fenoy

“Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder.  Help someone’s soul heal.  Walk out of your house like a shepherd.”  Rumi

My much older brother (we’ll call him Clooney) owns a cabin in Montana on Duck Lake where we all just spent the weekend.  The quarters are large enough to comfortably hold the 8 family members and friends that had gathered, but small enough that there is little or no room for finding much alone time.    Clooney, being the intelligent guy that he is, has devised a method to give fair warning to the unsuspecting that a storm may be brewing.

If a person wakes up in the morning feeling less than sociable and maybe just a little bit grumpy, there is a specially designated signal to warn others.  It is a bright red coffee mug that can be seen from great distances and is meant to warn off unsuspecting cabin mates of a percolating foul mood.  If somebody is sipping from the mug, it is advisable to give them a wide berth until they find their happy place.

Brilliant use of form and function, Clooney.  Bravo.

Funny thing though, a person’s bad mood typically doesn’t need a red mug warning attached for others to recognize it.   Have you ever noticed that one person in a bad mood can join an otherwise pleasant group and pretty soon almost everybody is feeling owly and cross?  Maybe there is that one guy in the office who always has something to complain about.  Or that friend who shows up at a party and pretty soon everyone has found a reason to make an early exit.  You know who I am talking about… that Debbie Downer whose foul moods act as the anchor that pulls everyone under.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we all know that person whose presence will almost always raise the moods and attitudes in whatever group they join.  Could be a boring day at the office where everyone feels blah, then Susie Sunshine shows up and pretty soon everyone is energized, laughing, have a great time and wondering why they felt so down earlier.  Wherever she goes, her happiness radiates and warms up whatever space she is in.  We all love Susie and want her at every party we throw, because we know she will just make it better.

This phenomena has actually been put to scientific research and the findings are quite fascinating.  In a study back in 2010 at Harvard University, Alison Hill and her team of researchers concluded that happiness and sadness are indeed contagious and tend to spread in a model very similar to that of infectious diseases.  And it is much easier to spread the Sad germs than it is the Happy ones.  In their study Hill and her team found that groups subjected to sadness were infected about 50% of the time, but those subjected to happiness were only infected 11% of the time.  So in the grand scheme of things, Debbie Downer can take down Susie Sunshine almost any day of the week.

Somebody give Debbie the red mug.  This chick needs a warning label.

Armed with this information I intend to make a concerted effort to spread sunshine wherever I go.  Even on the days I would rather drink from the red mug, I will suck it up and produce a smile, a cheerful hello and keep my bad mood to myself.  And by faking it until I make it, maybe I will infect myself with those jumpy little happy germs along the way.

As the Buddha said, “Happiness never decreases by being shared”.   I say spread that shit around.  Maybe we can start a whole Happiness Pandemic.

29 thoughts on “The Shepherd”

  1. I found this so very helpful, Brenda. Sometimes we need to learn from our sadness, but all too often it is a huge obstacle.

  2. Really great use of a RED MUG. After reading your brief summary about happiness vs. sadness, boy, oh, boy is it true. Currently, I am fighting to come out of my own dark hole of sadness and depression, only to feel like it is one step forward and one step back. I have a friend who is on the verge of divorce, bankruptcy and a close friend of his just died. It’s hard for the sadness to not be contagious. It’s difficult to be the upbeat one when you are trying so desperately be upbeat. if only we could all carry a red mug into our lives, to warn the happy people away from darkness. But then again, the Dalai Lama also teaches that suffering is apart of happiness, without it, we wouldn’t know the difference.

    Thank you for sharing!

    1. I am sorry to hear about your trials, and am sending much light your way. Your awareness of the sadness being contagious is going to serve you well in bringing more positive energy and compassion to your friends. Blessings as you become the lamp that brightens the way.

  3. Good thoughts for consideration. My favorite response to people who tell me in that tone that is supposed to make any misbehavior suddenly alright, that they’re just not morning people, is, “Then spare everybody who is and don’t get up until 12:01”. So maybe I’m not a morning person either.

  4. Brenda so glad to read ur post … Are u telepathically connected to me?? U seem to be mirroring my thoughts …here’s why – a particular person has been on my mind for a few days and I finally dealt with it this morning .and then I log in and see ur post on the same subject!! Here’s the rest of it -I went to see Dr. Wayne Dyer yesterday and ever since I came back from the event last night I have been floating on cloud of serenity, peace , happiness, awe and inspiration … I suppose Dr. Dyers light rubbed off on me and I found the courage to pick up the phone and talk to Debbie …. All the while holding on to my place on the cloud :))- glad to report I didn’t let Debbie’s dark cloud cast a shadow on mine :)))- I gently blew it away from me and I continue to stay put on mine as I float away to a blissful place in my mind :)))-

    1. We must be connected, Vani! I’ve had some very interesting times involving Dr. Wayne 🙂 He is an amazing man and my favorite teacher in this lifetime so far.

      Congratulations on finding peace with Debbie and being able to blow those dark clouds away. You must feel incredible right now! Good for you, girl! <3

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