How to find Happy
October 2, 2017
"Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.
Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart."
— MAYA ANGELOU
My reverence for peace continues to motivate my actions. Some moments I am tempted to shake my fist in response to the voices screaming out with rage and fear, but I remember that those voices are not grounded in peace. I look for the stories of human rights and people helping others: Carrying supplies to those whose homes were destroyed by hurricanes or picking up rubble from buildings that collapsed in earthquakes. I turn toward goodness. It is the only way I can live. My parents instilled in me the concept that all people are my family; everyone deserves to be free. My daily behaviors – meditation, hiking, engaging in conversations about global warming or mindfulness give me hope and inner happiness.
I want to ask people to become aware of realities that may not be comfortable: the murder of Black children by police, the unfair, unequal incarceration of Black and Brown people, the forced oil pipelines embedded in sacred Native lands, the inequality in pay for people performing the same jobs with a different gender and identity than white men, the misogyny that lives even in women’s minds because we have listened to the system’s depiction of us as less valuable than men.
How can we find happiness in these troubled times?
The 2012 movie “Happy” begins with a pie chart representing the factors that impact our happiness. Research on happiness reveals that our genes make up 50% of what determines our happiness. Our circumstances (such as what job we have, how healthy we are, how much money we have, and our status in society) make up 10%. The last 40% is based on intentional behavior, the things we do on a regular basis to increase our levels of happiness; the aspect we have the most control of. Aimee Dansereau wrote about this, noting that one of four key behaviors is to “Appreciate What You Have” and write down five things you are grateful for every week.
When my children were young, I wrote in my gratitude journal every night, and included three things I was grateful for that day. Tonight I will begin that practice again.
Let’s choose love over separation and division, smiling over yelling. We are One planet…
"God's dream is that you and I and all of us will realise that we are family; that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion."
— The Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation