Stupidly Happy

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.

And here is a song to help you be Stupidly Happy too.

Good Morning, Good Night

When I was a young lass, my family moved from sunny southern California to the wilds of northern British Columbia, Canada. The first few months were a bit of a culture shock, as it was the dead of winter when we arrived. Each morning my mom would come and wake me up while it was still dark outside. I would get out of bed, run across the cold floor in bare feet and stand over the heat vent.

My nightgown would billow out like a filled balloon as the forced warm air flowed. I would stand there each day, listening to my Mom off in the kitchen humming “Do you Know the Way to San Jose” plaintively. And my thoughts would just kind of fade away. Staring into the zone, I would experience stillness and peace for those few moments.   Looking back I realize that those were my first meditations.

Nowadays I try to meditate twice a day. I have a very busy life and most days I don’t have too many chances to just relax, so those first 20 minutes of stillness, and those last 20 minutes of stillness… they mean the world to me. They are the bookends to my crazy days.

Wrapped in the luxury of my soft robe, I let go of the tensions and anxieties and allow myself to just be. My thoughts don’t always stop completely, but even if I get a few good solid breaths where I am just in the moment, I feel like I have had a great sit.

If you haven’t tried meditating, or think it is hard, please pop over here and read this. I promise you that it is easier than you think. And I promise you that when you commit to taking those moments for yourself, you will reap benefits beyond your imagination.

It is dark midwinter, and yesterday the groundhog promised 6 more weeks of the same. I took the news calmly. I have become accustomed to the four seasons we enjoy in Canada. And it only took me 45 years.

And now if you will excuse me, I have a heat vent I need to go stand over.

Do you know the way to San Jose?