“People with many interests live, not only longest, but happiest.” – George Matthew Allen
I’ve had several AWESOME conversations with online friends this past week. We’ve revealed secrets, hopes, and regrets. We’ve even opened up a few cans of worms to pick through. That’s usually a lot of fun. So the robins tell me.
The topic in a few of these discussions has been happiness. It’s something everybody wants and wants desperately. The problem is that every now and then life will hand you a situation that sort of stands like a wall between you and precious happiness. You can’t climb over the wall, can’t crawl under the wall, and you darn sure can’t wave a magic wand and make the wall disappear. So, what do you do? Sit on the dark side of the wall feeling sad, lonely, and as down as you’ve ever felt in your life?
I should say not.
When you can’t climb over to happiness, you have to invite it over to you. It CAN climb walls, crawl under walls, and even plow right through them. If happiness were a baseball player, it’d be Albert Pujols. If it were an actor, happiness would be Chuck Norris. If it were a superhero, it’d be Hawk Girl. If it were… okay, you get the picture.
When asked for my advice on happiness, whether it’s from an empty nester, someone with relationship problems, or anyone who finds themselves on the wrong side of the wall, a few of the first things I always say are:
- Get busy!
- Nurture your interests.
- Develop more interests.
- Always have something to look forward to. Always.
Regardless of WHY a wall stands between you and happiness, the secret to happier days lies in the four keys above. I’m not claiming that they’re miracles (I’ll leave those to God – they’re His specialties) but they WILL help you find the happiness you’re looking for.
This one’s pretty self-explanatory, so I’ll kind of rush through it. Staying busy is, to an extent, a good antidote for the blues. However, there is a danger of becoming too busy and trying to do too much. When we’re feeling down, for whatever reasons, we need to treat ourselves especially well. That, of course, includes plenty of rest. So, while you should try to keep your mind occupied and your body busy, do so within reason.
NURTURE YOUR INTERESTS
Whether you’re feeling unhappy or not, you should always nurture your interests and involve yourself as often as possible in your favorite hobbies. They’re especially helpful when we’re feeling a little off our game. When my oldest daughter, Emily, got married and (oddly enough) moved into her own place with her husband, I have to admit… I had some blue-tinged days. The beautiful girl I normally shared morning cups of coffee was no longer in my kitchen and I was one sad mom.
I decided to throw myself into some of my favorite interests. For example, I love all things National Geographic. So I subscribed to their wonderful magazine and have spent hours lost in fascinating locals. Also, I’m a huge history buff, so I threw myself into self-appointed history “lessons.” I’d pick a new subject each week and see how many things I could learn about that subject.
On a lighter note, I’m a baseball fanatic, so I memorized where each of the 3o teams has spring training. Information I will surely never use – but it was a fun endeavor and if you ever need to phone a friend, you know who to call!
I also found happiness with other interests:
- spending time with my family and cats
- watching movies
- bird watching
Think about your own interests, then throw yourself at their mercy! After all, our interests make us smile and isn’t that what we’re looking for when we’re feeling blue?
DEVELOP MORE INTERESTS
Once you’re busy with your favorite interests, consider adding to your repertoire. The more, the better, right? Weather permitting, maybe you could take up gardening, tennis or golf. All three if you’re really feisty. Pick a few subjects that you know absolutely nothing about and learn all you can about them. Below are a few to get your brain cells humming:
- Civil War Era
- World War I & II
- Cake Decorating
- Presidents and First Ladies
- Ancient China
- Soap Making
- Candle Making
- States & Their Histories
- The Oceans
- Polar Bears
- Gangsters! Bonnie & Clyde, Dillinger, Lucky Luciano (I don’t even know who that is – fingers crossed that he was a gangster), Al Capone, Billy the Kid, Frank James, Jesse James…
Learning new things (whether their information or hobbies) is exciting. It’s great, great fun and most of the time is completely free. What part of that isn’t a good time waiting to happen?
ALWAYS HAVE SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO
One of the keys to real happiness is to make sure you always have something to look forward to – whether it’s favorite tv shows throughout the week, sports on tv, Friday night trips to the theater, lunch with your kids, etc. Make a point of setting up particular events – events that happen on specific days.
Also, plan get-togethers and holiday parties. Lining up the menu, practicing new desserts, buying decorations, and generally planning the whole affair will give you plenty of things to look forward to and get excited about.
Then, when the big day comes, wow everyone with your mad knowledge of Jesse James.
As for me, I’m off to research Lucky Luciano. Isn’t it weird how a name can come to you out of the blue? Maybe I was visited by his ghost… okay now I’m just creeping myself out.