Thursday, July 17, 2008

Drumming With Chloe

At the opposite end of the spectrum from visiting my father in his nursing home is picking up my granddaughter, Chloe, from her daycare. I've been picking her up on fairly regular basis for a couple of years now. It has not lost its thrill for me or her. Some people say that life is not fair. It may not be fair but I do believe it has a natural balance. In my case the sadness of having an aging and sick parent is balanced with the joy of a happy, well adjusted, and loving granddaughter. As soon as I walked in the daycare, and she saw me, her eyes lit up. I picked her up and she hugged me tightly. After a five star dinner at McDonalds we headed to my house. Boy, this little girl can wear me out on a work night! She loves to climb all over me and she laughs hysterically as I gently tickle her. We went into my music room and she beat on my conga drum while I shook some maracas. She was really into it and we had a drum circle thing going for a while. Eventually her Dad showed up, and when it was time to go home I took her out to his car, strapped her in her car seat, got a kiss and a hug, waved goodbye, and then went back into the house and collapsed! A 57 year old man is no match for a four year old drummer!

The local newspaper once had an article entitled "Being happy can be elusive". It basically said that today's people, despite all their wealth and comforts, are no happier than people in the past who had less money and fewer comforts. It stated that there are three types of happiness. There's the "good day" when you do not have to spend too much time in tasks of drudgery and you can indulge in some things that bring pleasure. Most of my worst days are "good days". There is "euphoria", which is an intense and fleeting state that involves some risk. An example of this for me is putting up with all the hassle of going to a concert and then being rewarded with some great musical performances. Finally, there's your basic "happy life" which requires hard work, striving, nurturing, maintaining, mourning, and birthing. This is the ongoing and lasting happiness that requires some effort on our part. The article goes on to describe some "happiness habits" that we need to form in order to do the work of being happy. Here are some examples.

Figure out what's important to you. Do you value a certain kind of job, material things, a relationship, time alone, time with others, time to relax, time to be creative, time to read, time to listen to music, or time to have fun?

To be happy you have to make happiness a priority. Decide to make more time in your life to do more of what's important to you and makes you feel happier. Start with little things and work up. Little things might be reading for 15 minutes, taking a walk, calling a friend, or buying a great smelling soap, shampoo, candle, tea, or coffee that you will enjoy every time you use it.

Focus on what is positive. In a journal write down as many positive things as you can about yourself, others, and life in general.

Appreciate what is working in your life. In the major areas of your life...your health, job, love life, friends, family, money and living situation...what is going well?

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