Finding happiness can be elusive. Life gets in the way creating roadblocks while we ask ourselves, “Why me?” It can be a difficult journey with constant challenges and often no good choices. But even during those difficult times, can we still be happy?
I may be naïve but I feel the answer is yes. It has been a tough couple of years with COVID-19 and the rigid political divisions - along with our usual medical issues and the loss of friends and loved ones we will always miss. But we can still find happiness by incorporating in our lives the three daily habits that can make us happier and healthier.
To remind us of these three habits, October has been designated Gorge Happiness Month. But without reading any further, can you imagine what they are? And it’s not a hot cup of coffee every morning!
First: Acts of Kindness. This can be as easy as saying good day to a stranger or picking up a piece of trash to volunteering as a Meals-on-Wheels driver or an AARP tax aide counselor during tax season.
Second: Moments of Silence. Take time to flip on the pause button particularly for you whose days are go-go-go. But for those of you who may feel your day is already on pause, this is different.
Sit silently for just five minutes per day. Turn off all the normal distractions, your TV, radio, cell phone, your Facebook account! As you sit, observe the thoughts in your head, the sounds you hear around you, or other sensations that come and go. (I never noticed that tingling in my foot before.) Keep your eyes closed if you want or just look at one thing about three feet in front of you. Don’t beat yourself up if your mind wanders. Just notice it and come back to observing and listening. And if you are like me, try to stay awake! This is not a quick five-minute nap.
Last, and I feel most important: Gratitude. Find time each day to list three things for which you are thankful. For example, I’m thankful for all of you who read this column. (I try to write something interesting at least once a month so you keep coming back wondering, “Is this the week?”); for my children having good-paying careers so they can afford the long-term care for me in my old age. And I’m thankful that my wife and I have been together for over forty years. I think she is also thankful, but there are times I’m not so sure.
These three daily habits: acts of kindness, moments of silence, and gratitude can help us be happier even during difficult times. You can learn more about Gorge Happiness Month at their website, www.gorgehappiness.org, where you can also find a calendar of daily happiness activities.
The name of the comic strip created by cartoonist Walt Kelley that included various animal characters living in the Okefenokee Swamp was Pogo. I received correct answers from Susan Ellis, Doug Nelson, Gene Uczen, Christy Turner, Rose Schulz, Steven Woolpert, and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Lois Kinsfogel. Last week I missed Beth Thomas from White Salmon.
If you had a rebellious streak during the 60’s you may remember this movie, the third highest-grossing film of 1969. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the movie starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson that depicted the societal tensions of the 1960s as two bikers traveled through the American southwest and south? E-mail your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 541-296-4788 or deliver it to the Center while riding the “Captain America” Harley Davidson specially designed and built for the movie.
It’s been another week repeating those all too familiar words, “I forgot.” Until we meet again, to borrow from the words of Oscar Wilde, even though there may be times when you feel you are lying in the gutter, keep looking up at the stars.
“Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.” Robert Fulghum.