Thursday, August 17, 2006

Misery has enough company: Dare to be happy

The above is stolen from a billboard ad I saw on my way to a job interview this afternoon. The ad was for a VW convertible (which I would love to have).

Ads go for a basic truth consumers can identify with and this line was a masterpiece.

When is introspection and the tendency towards regret or remorse unhealthy? That is probably more or less a common sense question; if the act severely disrupts your life in an ongoing manner, it's not healthy. Recognizing negatives in our lives and in the midst of remorse, regret or self-ass kicking moving forward in the hopes of learning from the misstep or mishap is positive.

One of the best things to discover when in a bad situation is to discover that you are the cause of it. That will incur some of the aforementioned self ass-kicking but the good news is that cause of the problem is not outside of your control. You can change the outcome.

All of this is very cerebral, of course. In our day to day existence we continually struggle against the negative voices that have resided in our very bones and blood and circulate up to the brain. A continued failure towards a desired goal might lead one to wonder if the goal was meant to be; but is that giving up or facing reality?

Is it a negative to face reality and say we are not cut out for something that we had one time desired?

It's frustrating at times to try and work at a level where we do not want to give way to self-pity when things do not turn out as we hoped and planned. A little self-pity is only human; kicking and screaming accompanied by short-term banging head against the wall can be therapeutic as long as the brains do not spill out and blood not drip on the carpet. Believe me, I've been there. A little wallowing in self-pity can be soothing.

The biggest danger to our psych is the sense of victimhood.

"I am such a victim." "Nothing goes right for me." "Everyone is out to screw me."

Recognize these phrases? It is so very easy to identify what goes wrong in life. It jumps out and sticks its tongue out in your face. What's not so easy to cutting our way through the swamp, refusing to give in to the mud, the grime, the cattails that sting our face and the utter stink of gunk. It's so very easy to throw the hands up and complain about how unfair life is.

Get over it.

Unless, of course, it is vastly appealing to run off a litany of wrongs perpetrated against you.

"Why am I so fat?" Because you eat too much and don't exercise enough, that's way.

"Why is life so unfair?" Because there are more forces at work in the world than just your wants and needs. Some things just happen.

"Why am I alone all the time?" Because you probably do not make any effort to go out and meet new people. If you want a boyfriend or girlfriend, get out and volunteer, go to social gatherings and find events where single people congregate. If you still can't companionship, get online and spend time and a little money on match.com or some other dating service. It's better than not moving in any direction at all, isn't it?

Embarrassed that you are using an online dating service to try and find a boyfriend/girlfriend? Isn't being embarrassed more temporary and easier to endure than not having a soul mate?

"I need more money but I'm too old to go back to school. I'm almost 50 and I'll be 52 or 54 before I get out of school." Well, you'll be 52 or 54 whether you go to school or not so you might as well go back to school and get the qualifications you need to pursue whatever it is you feel will make you happier and perhaps earn you more money. At 54, you still have 10-15 years of working life left at least, maybe more if you want it.

My point in all this (if you are still reading) is there are a million and one reasons to be miserable. It's so easy to sit down and count missed opportunities, how you messed things up in a relationship or friendship and can't possibly go back and fix it and tick off several really difficult aspects of your life that drag you down.

But the choice comes down to this: no matter what your situation is, there is someone else who is worse off. If you are miserable about something, sit down and read the newspaper or turn on the news. Better yet, go out and volunteer to work in a homeless shelter or some other activity that benefits people who don't have enough to eat, have no place to live and can't even afford basic pleasures like going out to eat, going to a movie or buying something fun for themselves.

If you have the energy to bitch, you have the energy to stop feeling sorry for yourself and find a way out, up or forward. If you don't want to do that, then clearly you enjoy misery.

I don't enjoy it. I constantly work to see the positive where I can because I refuse to feed my inherent tendency towards depression.

5 comments:

Scout said...

Great post and writing. Keep it up.

Nancy Kersey said...

Thank you, Scout. I appreciate your visiting and your comment.

Marie-France Thériault, LL.B. said...

I found this while google searching for this ad, which I had seen briefly and really liked. I love your perceptions and opinions. I totally agree. Thank you for putting my thoughts in writing! lol

As someone who has made the choice to be happy, I was delighted to find someone else who shares my eternal optimism, in the best possible sense of the word!

Keep up the great work! I look forward to reading more of you!

Nick said...

Amen. Just as above, I was looking for the VW ad. You should check out the new psychology sub-field movement called positive psychology. www.authentichappiness.com
www.reflectivehappiness.com
Best,
Nick

Megan Taylor said...

6 years later, this post is still spoton. I found it by accident but I love it. Thanks for so eloquently putting into words what I have long believed and often thought. You should write a book! I would buy your book.