My home is not a place, it is people.
Published on January 14, 2007 By Cordelia In Blogging

A few years ago I become ill with the stomach flu. I woke up and felt fine, but by the time I was driving to work I knew I had better turn around and go back home. I don't mean to be crass or crude, but I spent the rest of the morning being violently ill. It was difficult to walk, I felt terribly weak and shaky, and by Noon I began to wonder if I shouldn't take myself off to the emergency room.

 

I really did not want to go to the emergency room, but I couldn't keep even a sip of water down. Even thinking about a drink of water was enough to send me crawling back to the bathroom for another prayer at the porcelain altar.

 

By one pm I determined that I probably needed to go to the doctor, but by god I wasn't going to. I clamped my teeth shut and said to myself "SELF! You are not going to be sick anymore. You will lay quietly on the couch and you will not be ill again today. You will drink some water within the next hour and you WILL keep it down".

 

And you know? It worked.

 

Now what I want to know is this: If I can grip the stomach flu and by sheer force of will turn it away, why can't I force my mind to think happy thoughts when I'm down?

 

Sounds simplistic, doesn't it? Nevertheless, most of the literature I've read on the subject states that happiness is in the eye of the beholder and it is up to the individual to choose happiness over unhappiness. I want to believe this, as it goes along with my own personal philosophy that we are all in charge of our own destinies. We are not at the mercy of fate or some capricious god. The paths of our lives are up to us.

 

So when I'm unhappy for whatever reason, why then can I not simply clench my teeth against those negative thoughts and spit them out, rather than swallow them down?

 

I ask you, JoeUser, are you able to do this? Do you catch yourself in a negative thought spiral and begin to count your blessings and turn your gray thoughts to sunshine? What constitutes your happiness? What in your life makes you truly happy, and how do you define that happiness?

 

Abd Er-Rahman III of Spain (960 C.E.):

I have now reigned about 50 years in victory or peace, beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this situation, I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot. They amount to fourteen.

 

Money does not make me happy, but the lack of it certainly makes me unhappy. I don't need to be in charge of every last thing to be happy. I don't need servants or lots of clothes or a huge mansion and I don't need to be dreaded by my enemies. I'm not even sure I have any enemies...but if I do, eventually I'll destroy them. I have patience.

 

Albert Camus:
You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.

 

I am constantly searching for the meaning of life (and for you jokers out there, if the meaning of life is 42 then I'm still searching for the question, which is not likely to be 7x6). More specifically, I'm looking for the meaning of MY life. There is nothing more unsatisfying than knowing that I'm likely never to find the answer. It makes me very uncomfortable. I think Mr. Camus has a point, but in truth I feel compelled to think about the meaning of my existence. It's like a scab I can't stop picking at.

 

So what makes me happy? The times in my life that I remember of pure, and genuine happiness (I can immediately think of 2 days), I was sitting on the couch, warm and comfortable, reading a good book. Maybe at the end of the day that's all it takes. It's worth a shot anyway.


Allan K. Chalmers:
The Grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.


Comments (Page 1)
on Jan 14, 2007
Sometimes the only way I come out of a gloomy mood is to just let all that moodiness drain out of me...I can only be mad, sad, worried for so long, then I'm like, "okay, enough of that...". I'll then proceed to throwing myself into something--reading, cleaning, etc.--anything to get things off my mind.

It's also nice when you have support. Sometimes when I've failed to get myself out of a dark mood, a loved one usually does the trick--converses with me, makes me laugh, or just keeps me company.

Here is sending some smiles and sunshine your way, Cordelia.   
on Jan 15, 2007
Acceptance of the world and the people in it is what helps me maintain my sanity. Acceptance, but not necessarily approval. This helps me to focus on my own needs instead of constantly trying to change others, as I'm otherwise apt to do. However, being grateful is what makes me truly happy.
on Jan 15, 2007

I can't offer any words of wisdom about negativity.

I just purge it out of my system, by talking, writing, whatever, and then get on with the living.

Great article woman.

on Jan 15, 2007
Oh, I forgot to mention things like watching Heroes on TV, and old episodes of Stargate SG1 borrowed from the library, and reading Lois McMaster Bujold's latest series, and so on. Someone once told to me to watch a Disney movie whenever I felt blue. That works too. Beats the news.
on Jan 15, 2007
While a positive mental attitude can certainly help you to heal faster, I doubt you willed your illness away. Stomach flu’s are very short duration, sometimes lasting only a few hours. That’s why you feel so sick; your body’s using all it’s energy to fight off the invaders

I think you can ether will yourself to be happy or you can’t. The ability is at the core of someone’s personality and is not learned skill IMO. If your not one of these lucky individuals there are ways to temporarily trick yourself into being happy. Laughter is the easiest way to artificial happiness and has been scientifically proven to alter your brain chemistry even if you’re forcing yourself to laugh for no reason. Just listening to a tape of laughter has the same effect.

Eventually I come to my senses and start dwelling on things again cause that’s my personality.


on Jan 15, 2007

Cordelia:  I can only speak for myself on happiness.  I've found it in the simplest of things,  like watching birds at the feeder,  feeding two Mallard hens that landed in my yard this summer,  being wrapped up in a blanket on a cold day sipping on cocoa.

I recently had bad news and I knew if I worried about it,  the negative thoughts would snowball and it would affect my physical health as well as my mental well being,  so I tried to focus on the things that I do and can take charge of,  thought about the good things that can happen if things don't go as planned for me.

I think it's human to have our feelings,  it's just that we don't have to let them have charge of our lives!  Yes I feel hurt,  however.....I can do something with that.  Something good   If something we want doesn't work out,  we can take stock of what's left to work with. 

The other day I took some of my chili down to the neighbors,  and they just loved it,  so much so that she wants my recipe and she brought down another bag of frozen walleyes,  that she knows I'm crazy for.  Just finding out how much they enjoyed the chili was a moment of happiness along with the original intent which was to share.  Happiness is all over,  sometimes one stumbles on it too.

on Jan 15, 2007
Doctors say that the single greatest healing elixir known to man is the power of positive thinking.  All my adult life, I have done that.  When I get sick, I do not rush to the medicine cabinet, instead just tough it out with the motto that "if my body fights it off on its own, it will be stronger for it".  As a result, while my wife gets lots of colds and bugs, I get few.  And the few I do get do not last long.
on Jan 15, 2007
power of positive thinking

It's even a branch of medical research now: Psychoneuroimmunology
on Jan 16, 2007

Sorry for the dealy in my response gang, I've been really busy this week!

It's also nice when you have support. Sometimes when I've failed to get myself out of a dark mood, a loved one usually does the trick--converses with me, makes me laugh, or just keeps me company.

Here is sending some smiles and sunshine your way, Cordelia.

InBloom - So true, it often helps to have someone to talk to! Thanks for the sunshine, too.

However, being grateful is what makes me truly happy.

So, kind of like counting your blessings? I don't think I do that enough, quite frankly. I dwell on the negative...which is what prodded this whole article in the first place!

I think you can ether will yourself to be happy or you can’t. The ability is at the core of someone’s personality and is not learned skill IMO.

That's another thing that prompted this whole article. The "experts" - if such a thing can exist - say that you can train yourself to think more positively. It takes time...a LONG time, and effort, but it can be done. I suppose my saying "no it can't!" is just another example of negative thinking. (And I also dwell on things)

being wrapped up in a blanket on a cold day sipping on cocoa.

Now that does sound like happiness!

Doctors say that the single greatest healing elixir known to man is the power of positive thinking.

Yes, I think that must be true. However, it's the positive thinking that I sometimes have a problem with. I dwell on the negative, like stubbyfinger. I want to change that. I'm trying to change that.

It's even a branch of medical research now: Psychoneuroimmunology

Cool! I'll have to check it out.

Thanks for commenting all! I hope you are all happy and thinking positive thoughts.

 

on Jan 16, 2007

Double post

on Jan 16, 2007
A few years ago, I was very ill. I lost a lot of weight and was in constant pain. The only thing that helped me through this was my attitude. Up until then, I'd been accused by different people over my life of basically being too enthusiastic. If I hadn't been an enthusiast (don't know if this is a real word but it suits anyway) I am certain my illness would have been a whole lot worse.

Like everyone, I have negative thoughts and feelings. I try to address these when they arise but won't allow myself to dwell on them. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but it really works for me.

Great article...
on Jan 16, 2007

Like everyone, I have negative thoughts and feelings. I try to address these when they arise but won't allow myself to dwell on them. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but it really works for me.

I would very much like to adopt that attitude for myself. Apparently it takes "work" to change your mental habits. I'm not sure I like the idea of this "work" stuff, but I guess it's the only option available to me.

I can't offer any words of wisdom about negativity.
I just purge it out of my system, by talking, writing, whatever, and then get on with the living.
Great article woman.

Ohh, Tova, I'm so sorry I missed responding to your comment the first time around. I sometimes have a hard time purging the negative thoughts, but I think a change to activity would be useful. ometimes I even blog.

Thanks very much for the response!

reading Lois McMaster Bujold's latest series

She is my favorite author. FAVORITE! Come to think of it, reading one of her books does make me happy. Thanks!

on Jan 16, 2007
What works for me is simple meditation techniques. I'm not talking about the usual 'sitting in a quiet space, thinking of nothing and concentrating on breathing' sort of meditation. I find if I do this, I generally nod off.

My technique involves simple affirmations, which I repeat like a manta - things like 'Positive, happy, fun and relaxed', for instance. I repeat them when I'm exercising, walking, going to sleep, under the shower, doing housework etc. Again, I can't say whether this works for everyone but it certainly works for me.

The one thing I will say is if you follow this technique, use positive language in your affirmations. Words like 'don't', 'not', 'can't, etc have an affect on the subconcious and can infect your concious mind with negativity.

Ooo, I just realised how the above sounds like a lot of hippy dribble    As I said, no guarantees are offered but this is what works for me.
on Jan 17, 2007

Ooo, I just realised how the above sounds like a lot of hippy dribble

Lol, I suppose it does, but the very nature of the question invites that response. I hear that this is exactly what you are supposed to do - recognize that you are having negative thoughts, try and banish them, and replace them with positive. It's just very hard to do when you are stuck in a rut of negativity. I'm trying to change that. Perhaps I'll revisit this blog in a few months when I'm back in that rut and try to remind myself to "stop it!".

on Jan 17, 2007
but the very nature of the question invites that response


Phew, I'd hate for you to think I was a saddle-wearing, tie-dying, wooly-haired 60's leftover.

It's just very hard to do when you are stuck in a rut of negativity


Indeed it is. I derived a lot of my beliefs from a book called 'Mind Power Into The 21st Century'by John Kehoe. I find it most useful because he cuts through all the esoteric bulls#%t most self-help books espouse and keeps it honest and simple. Check it out, it is really good. He also has an online site:WWW Link
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