The Unhappiness Issue?
Sheila talks about finding happiness and the reasons we feel happy or sad.
To be cheerful and carefree, buoyant, debonair and jaunty, according to Aristotle, is a product of an active and rational life.
I look on it as a balance. It’s all a state of mind. We all find happiness in our own way and our values dictate how we react and deal with situations. In order to understand what makes us feel happy we have to know what makes us unhappy so we can recognise those situations that may challenge us emotionally; whether they are of our own making or others.
When faced with difficult decisions, bad news, trauma, illness or anything that unbalances our usual life we react in many ways. Anger, tantrums, silence, destruction (self, others, or possessions), drugs, alcohol... the list is endless.
To restore balance we first have to accept what the problem is, where we want to be emotionally and what we can do to change the situation. Sometimes it’s accepting that things have changed permanently as in a bereavement or life altering illness. Other times it’s knowing our limits and asking for help or a revisiting of ways we react to a situation.
As an adult I openly wept when I saw the bus blown up in London on 7/7 and couldn’t understand my reaction. For many years I had nightmares and didn’t know why I hated motorways. I had witnessed a coach being blown up as a child and have since visited the site and memorial of the 1974 bombing with ironically the best person to understand, my bomb disposal expert husband. It was probably one of the hardest things I have done in my life. I found a strange peace and happiness in the knowledge that they are not forgotten. I hadn’t known their names till 35 years after the bombing. I got to say sorry for not being able to help and say goodbye to them. Maybe that’s why I chose nursing and why I’m happiest when I can help others. We all find ways to cope and to find a happy place in our lives.
Think back to things that really made you happy. Sometimes it’s the simple things like a smile that we may take for granted. Try smiling at a stranger and saying good morning.
Sometimes life isn’t always rational or straightforward. It’s the human condition. The one thing we all have is choice, even when the choices are limited or not to our liking. We can choose how we react to a situation and we are the scriptwriters of our own happiness. Re-write if you need to, live a life that brings you joy and above all remember to smile inside and out.
(Illustrations by Jim Waddington.)