August 1, 2014

Happiness comes from...

This is kind of an extension post to my "Green Grass" post I did a little while back. The gist of that post was the guilty feelings and thoughts I had been having of "I'll be happier when...". I had given myself some advice on how to work towards happiness by having to a. really wanting it, and b. really working towards it. That post was written about three months ago, and I have to say I am making progress. 

So lately I have been noticing a couple of things in my life that I just wanted to express. It relates to my "Green Grass" post because I've noticed that a really great way to work towards happiness is all about the acts that we decide to make. When we make good choices, we obviously feel good and have a more positive outlook on life. When we make wrong choices, we feel guilty and burdened with life's demands. So here are a couple of observances I have made in the past couple of months. 

1. I am surprised and sometimes even baffled when a complete stranger does something nice for myself or others. Let me see if I can try to explain this. As I have gone about my everyday life, whether it be running errands, walking in my neighborhood, or just driving in my car, I have noticed that I am surprised at the genuine goodness that still exists in people. Now, I don't know why this is such a shock to me. I know that there are so many good people in this world, who are constantly just giving of themselves. Maybe I feel this way because I need to improve my own desire to be kinder and to provide more service to people. Some examples of this genuine goodness that I have observed is a complete stranger paying for a young mother's grocery bill because she didn't have enough money to cover the groceries she needed. Another example is a stranger giving a homeless man some groceries. I was walking my dog the other morning and a complete stranger was jogging past and joyfully said, "Good morning!" to me. All of these events of caused me to ponder why I was so surprised that they happened. I think in today's society we have become so immersed in ourselves, and just live in our own little bubble, that we don't take the time to notice others around us. I think we may simply ask ourselves, "Why would someone do that?" thinking they have a hidden agenda, or maybe feeling like we don't deserve the kindness given to us. At any rate seeing these examples have really made me open up my eyes to the goodness happening all around me and trying to give it back.

2. I wonder why so many people wear frowns on their faces when they could be smiling. I am quite aware that I am guilty of this. I have what others have called a unique "resting face." When I am just sitting listening to somebody, or thinking about things, others interpret this as me being sad or angry. I can't count the number of times someone at church has come up to me concerned, because I am sitting with a frown on my face. And I am never mad at anybody or anything, I am just simply sitting there thinking. So I started practicing different ways to "rest" my face. I have tried smiling to others more at church, when I'm out and about doing errands, or even just talking with friends. As I have really made this effort, I notice just how many people I encounter who are scowling and complaining. I always wonder what is happening in their lives that they wear their burdens on their faces. I just try to make eye contact and smile because I personally know how much it makes my day when someone smiles at me. And you know what? Most of them actually smile back at me. It works. 

3. I wonder why we deny ourselves happiness. I have noticed that as I have genuinely tried to embrace the kindness happening around me, and trying to pay it forward, I have been happier. As I mentioned, I think we sometimes feel we don't deserve kindness from others, for whatever reason. So we decide to hide in a shell. It's kind of like we deny the blessings that can come our way. I've always believed that our Heavenly Father is just pouring out all these blessings in our lives, and we either notice or we don't. It's when we don't notice those blessings that we deny ourselves the happiness we deserve. This is something I tell myself all the time--that I am worthy of blessings, and that I do deserve kindness. We all do. We are all in this life together, and it's up to us to help each other on the way.