Monday, September 3, 2012

Be Happy Happy Happy

I love this article that was in the Sydney Morning Herald.

It's about how some smart folks are critical of the whole think-positive movement. One of them is an Aussie social researcher, Hugh Mackay. He worries about over-achievers and kids who feel they must always please their parents.  It's the dissatisfaction-over-a-silver-medal syndrome.  

There's also a British guy in the mix. I like this quote that the article has from him:

Motivational books, tapes and seminars might leave you feeling briefly excited, but that feeling fades. Which is, a cynic might suggest, how motivational speakers and self-help authors guarantee themselves a reliable income: if their products delivered lasting change, they would have less repeat customers.

I just read one of those books, though it was in the guise of fiction: Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol.   It's like The Secret and What The Bleep Do We Know turned into a novel.

I enjoyed the novel to some extent. It was actually quite a page-turner. But at times, the philosophy in it became a bit too heavy-handed. I felt I was being preached at, which would be fine if I had been reading a self-help book. If you pick up a self-help book, expect some preaching. If you read my blog, expect it too.

It's different, though, with fiction.  At least, I think so. 

As for being positive, I like a balanced approach.

I'm very positive in some aspects of my life. I'm negative about other aspects.

I think I'm a positive realist.

I have low expectations...or at least I try to have them. Then I try to have gratitude for what I do have.

But having gratitude doesn't mean I ignore the bad things in my life. I DO feel pressured to do this, though.  I feel guilty when I think about the negative things. I feel guilty when I write about the negative things. There's this pressure to be happy and grateful and positive about every damn thing.

I have a wonderful life, but it's not 100% perfect. And sometimes I like to bitch about it.

Bitching too much is a problem, though. And I wouldn't blame people for wanting to avoid me if I did it all or most of the time.

I don't like being around people who are negative all the time.

I also don't like being around people who are overly positive.

I spent part of an evening, this summer, with one of these people. She was so smiley and grateful.   She got on my nerves, and it was a bit of a relief to say good-bye.

The general idea I get from the think-positive movement is that if you think positive you will gain financial security and success in your career.  Your wildest dreams can come true.

I personally think that's bullshit.

My way is to think as positively as possible about both the good stuff and bad stuff in your life. That can range from celebrating aspects of your life to simply accepting them. By accepting bad things, I don't mean you refrain from ever trying to change things. But there still can be acceptance. Either, I accept that this part of my life sucks, and it's not going to change. Or, I accept this part of my life sucks, and I accept that I need to make attempts to change it.  

I have parts of my life I dislike. But after many years of thinking, I've decided more grief would come to my life if I tried to make a dramatic change. Instead I've learned to live with it. Sometimes I'm sad about it.  Sometimes I'm mad. Sometimes I bitch about it. Other times, I think to myself, in the scheme of things. It's really not so bad.    

Life doesn't have to be perfect.

We don't have to be perfect.

We don't have to be rich and famous.

We don't have to climb the highest mountains.

We don't need to be positive and happy all the time.

We can just accept our life for what it is.

We can feel comfortable bitching occasionally about the bad stuff, and enjoy whatever good stuff comes our way.  


  1. Now you've reminded me of one chap on my Dinner Party List [it's like a bucket list only you don't die unless the food is off] - Voltaire.

    Why is there no noun for the skill exercised in being sarcastic?
    He was a master sarcasterer?

    I thought Candide had been made into a musical - sacrilege - but now that you talk about excessive happiness I've turned to YouTube and sho'nuff someone has uploaded the broadway version for me to watch [if I can sit through it].
    Some people insist that there is a direct correlation between happiness, and blind faith in Jesus, but if you read the fine print faith is measured in dollar terms and happiness is a return on an investment... oh bugga... hope I haven't offended anyone...

    Excessively chirpy people can be a great source of irritation. An even better way to irritate the crap out of me is to be chirpy FIRST THING IN THE MORNING - sheesh.

    PS I am positively not a negative person - I'm a whinger.
    Negative people like to warn everyone the sky is about to cave in. I know it already has.

    The glass may well be half full, but of what, that's what I want to know. Some of the people flogging happiness try so hard I suspect they are trying to convince themselves, and make money in the process. Bah humbug.

    Your balanced approach is much more sensibler.

  2. Fruitcake,

    I think it's OUR balanced approach. Well, because I think you're like me in that way.

    LOL about the food going off at the big dinner party. I mean not that food poisoning is funny. But your joke was.

    What else....

    Ah. Good question about the glass. I NEVER thought of that.

    What IS in that glass?

    I hope it's something chocolate.

    No...maybe soda.

    Or plain water would be okay.

    I would like some ice though.

    Do you like cold water; or do you like it at room temperature?

    I'm getting thirsty.....

  3. Thank you for laughing at my joke, Dina. Better yet... thank you for getting my joke.

    As eyes are the window to the soul, teeth are the window to a person's true nature. My teeth are very sensitive.
    Any colder than room temperature, and a glass may as well be empty.

    As for bubbles, I doubt the last thing I need to force into my stomach is more gas. For a few minutes there I thought you meant soda water, but I guess you mean soft drink?

    The only way to drink a cold bottle of soft drink is to open it and let it stand for a couple of days til the gas has gone and the temperature has improved.

  4. Fruitcake,

    Yes. Soft drink=soda. Sorry for being confusing.

    It makes sense about the sensitive teeth. And the gas.

    We don't want you farting too much at your ultimate dinner party.

  5. God forbid anyone should horse and cart at my table. But we don't want to be having to excuse ourselves and missing any of the conversation.

    No apology necessary, I'm just slow. Also no apology required as you are the host here and I am the guest. I will not be speaking or spelling USian on my own blog or in my own comments, nor do I expect you to be anyone but yourself.
    [But thanks anyway].

  6. Fruitcake,

    Yes. You're right. Why in the world am I apologizing for speaking USian?

    I like that word USian. Did you make it up?

  7. "If you read my blog expect it too."
    This made me laugh when I read it yesterday.
    Anyway - this post reminds me of an article I read a couple days ago about 'the art of giving up.' And I thought of you (and of myself and how good I already am at this) while I read it. ;)
    But yeah - there is a lot of pressure in some circles to (in my opinion) overachieve.
    Happily I don't have this problem. Happy with mediocrity (my own kind of perfection).

    As you were ♥

  8. p.s. I know I've said it before - but I really enjoy your attitude of accepting things (not everything naturally) but being willing to accept certain things and not feel pressured to change or correct what might not be wrong in the first place. I love that. =)

  9. HappyOrganist,

    Yes. You've said it before. It works out well, because I like hearing it repeatedly ; )

    It's a very nice and meaningful compliment.

    As for mediocrity. I think it's quite lovely. I need to learn to love it. I'm working on it. I still feel that pressure to be THE best. And if I can't be the best, I sometimes it's not even worth it to try.

    Like with my family, I'm the best singer within that group. So I like singing when I'm with them. I feel good about myself. But then I go on YouTube and see all these people who sing as good as me or better....or MUCH better. Then I feel what's the point?

    But the thing to remember is ALL singing is super fantastic...even really bad singing.

    It's not about having the perfect voice or staying in tune. It's the spirit of the whole thing.

    Also, if you sing perfectly all the're no fun to be around. I think my family likes it when I miss a note or when I can't get high enough. I think it makes them more relaxed.

    In the end....I think I like myself more when I feel I'm being perfect (or close to perfect). But other people probably like me more when I'm being mediocre.

    Hey...I may have seen that article about giving up. Unless it's new. Or I've read something similar. I remember the idea being so foreign to me. Yet it was such a refreshing viewpoint.

    We have so much pressure to never give up. Don't quit. And this essay thing was saying it's totally fine to do that sometimes.

    Sometimes perseverance is courageous. Other times it's extremely foolish.

  10. My mom has that attitude about singing "It's the spirit of the whole thing."
    I feel the same way about watching Rod Stewart dance.
    Let me explain.. I was thinking "I've had that attitude about something too - but it wasn't about singing. What was it?" And then I remember - I LOVE watching Rod Stewart perform on stage.
    I've only ever watched youtube - but I noticed that I don't like his dancing - BUT I love watching him dance b/c he is having such a good time.
    My mom expressed the same sentiment over hearing someone sing once.. It was someone from her childhood, I think. She said this guy couldn't carry a tune, but she LOVED hearing him sing b/c he loved singing (and it was just really awesome).
    I'm not saying you can't carry a tune. I just think there is 100% something to the spirit of the activity no matter what it is. Which is why mediocrity rocks.

    no - I just threw that in there at the end.

    You know what else? I had the opportunity a while ago to learn to play the organ from this AMAZING organist. I really loved his playing. And I asked him for lessons (but changed my mind).
    Two reasons I changed my mind: one - his technique was totally different from what I had originally been taught (and I didn't want to be conflicted on how I should play in church. That would feel weird). two - I know my playing is not professional or anything like that. I'm definitely amateur. But I do think the spirit (or where my heart is when I play) is a lot more important than how professional I sound. although those professionals DO totally rock. ;D

  11. HappyOrganist,

    I would think then that you LIKE Rod Stewart's dancing; but you think it's bad dancing.

    Sorry to be picky ; )

    It's like I enjoy my mom's singing and my cousin's singing....but I think it's pretty awful at times.

    But the awfulness of their singing is endearing. It's very cute.

    Bad singing can be awesome; and so can mediocre singing.

    And bad dancing is awesome.

    I think I'm AWESOME at being a horrible dancer.

    I agree about your organ playing. Not that I can judge. I wouldn't know if you sounded professional or just nice-amateur.