Happiness is a topic long considered by great theologians, orators, poets and philosophers. I do not consider myself in those elite groups.
Last week I read an article in the New York Times that reported all of the progress our country has made in the past few years. It reported progress in medicine, the economy, even our environment. We are moving in the direction of optimism and have been for some time. The question the Times presented was “why can’t we be happy anymore?” (NYT, May 15, 1026, page 4)
They place blame on the press, social media, and current political candidates who prefer to talk gloom and doom and to proselytize the end of American society as we know it. None of which is actually occurring according to the Times.
I found it sad but enlightening. I had to mostly agree. I, too, find myself constantly moaning about the price of bread, the state of our economy, the stupid things we do in our country, our lack of medical care, our rising health costs, the number of gun inflicted injuries and deaths each day, the ignorance of our politicians and congress. I, too, tend to spout negativity on a daily basis. I am quick to admit that, although equally ashamed to do so.
I thought about putting up a smiley face in each and every room. I thought about fining myself each time I say something critical. My jar would quickly fill I’m afraid, for I have also taken up the death knoll for our country and the world. I, too, have begun to see gray skies and the blackness of violence and death instead of focusing on the blue skies above me.
I complain about the heat of the intense Arizona sun instead of being happy for sunshine. I complain about my irrigation system being broken instead of being thankful that I can afford to have one. It is so easy to slide into negativity and so difficult to pull oneself back to happiness.
But it is a challenge I want to take on. I want to feel happy like I did when I was a kid. I want to feel naïve and excited about life and playful and joyful and plain old Happy! Can we do that in the midst of all the noise each day? I’d like to think we can.
Pharrell’s hit song Happy hit the top of the charts because it is a word so seldom used these days. Happy. A feeling of joy and contentment. It’s on my iTunes fave list. Now to just listen and follow suit.