The play was over. Fulfilled theatre-goers streamed past me on their way to wine, or home, or late night coffees. I smiled, as I am wont to do, wishing them well as they left the theatre.
An old high school teacher of mine sauntered up to me. We hadn’t seen each other in many, many (too many to count) years.
“Why are you smiling?” he asked, face drawn carefully into neutral. “Are you stupid?” Gasps all around as those in the vicinity heard his words.
I smiled even wider. “Sure.” I agreed good naturedly. “I like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite.” While he didn’t quite smile back, I did hear his gruff laughter as he wandered away.
I get his point. The world lately, has given little reason to make us smile. I find myself squinting through barely open fingers as I open my web browser, afraid of what I might find. Facebook has become riddled with landmines of stark negativity, and hatred. There seems to be doom and gloom all around us. Plus winter is stretching into spring and the gray days can be downright depressing.
But I like to smile. Despite all of the nasty crap that is happening.
For years I have had the Optimist’s Creed, by Christian D. Larson, hanging up in my room. Each morning as I dry my hair and drink my coffee I glance up at the words. Sometimes I read a line or two. Most days it is just a blur of non recognition, similar to the color of paint on the walls. You see something often enough you stop seeing it.
My old teacher’s words brought up the first line of the Creed for me, making me stop and ponder.
“I promise myself to be so strong that nothing can disturb my peace of mind.”
I am an optimist. I have been called a Polly Anna by some, and an idiot with my head in the sand by others. I do see the glass as half full, and am grateful for the glass, and the lovely liquid inside. The world looks brighter when I wear my rose colored glasses and I refuse to allow anything to disturb my peace of mind.
Happiness is an inside job. I figured this one out a long time ago. I realized that I had waited and waited, deferring my right to be happy until X, Y and Z happened. But then X, Y and Z would happen and I would still not feel happy. It didn’t take me long (only about 45 years or so) to figure out that what I needed to do was to make the decision to feel happy. Nothing had to happen to make it so. I could just wake up each morning, yawn, stretch and BELIEVE that today was a great day to be happy, and VOILA… I would be happy.
When the world turns upside down and I am inundated with the images of racism, fear, hatred, Trump, explosions, war, and, and, and….. I am not foolish enough to believe that by smiling I will save the world. But, I am wise enough to know that by worrying, fretting and being frustrated by things I have no control over, I am stealing peace from myself.
So despite what is happening in the world, I smile. I choose peace. I choose to continue to be optimistic, even if it seems foolish.
I choose to be stupidly happy.