Happiness Part V: We Know Too Much

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Day in and day out, we are being bombarded with information.  Some of it will be correct and some of it will prove to be incorrect yet, we will absorb it all as though through osmosis.  Whether we are truly paying attention or we’re subliminally and subconsciously picking it up, we have most of that info, rumbling around in our brains somewhere and it’s acting upon us like a slow release pill, coming out in dribs and drabs. It’s likely that we don’t even recognize that info is there or that we’re utilizing it in one way or another.  Our brains are wonderous machines with a filing system that makes computers look like toys.  Reality is, we know far more than we need to know and it’s causing us both stress and distress.  It’s a road block to being happy.

Remember back a few entries ago when the scenario of children being happy was the centre point of that piece?  If not, you can review it here.  Part of the reason that children are generally happy is that they don’t know enough to be un-happy.  Not only have the brains of children not developed enough but, they don’t know enough to be upset, stressed, worried or any of the adult things that we, as adults, have come to learn to do.  They live in moment because they can’t really foresee much trouble in the future.  Ignorance is sometimes, bliss.

Let me give a scenario here that may help demonstrate that point better.

Two men are in a car, stuck on railway tracks.  They cannot move back nor forward.  The elder gentleman in the car has a form of dementia and is busily reminiscing about days gone by that he remembers with fondness.  The younger gentleman, fully able to compute the dangers of what is happening, is trying not to frighten the older man while trying to start the car again with no success.  Off in the distance, he sees the faint lights of an oncoming train and keeps trying to start the car, filled with panic now.  The elder man is completely unaware of what is happening and continues on his trip down memory lane with pure joy and delight, laughter and a smile while beads of sweat drip down the younger man’s forehead.  Finally, in vain, as the train approaches rapidly, the younger man exits the car, opens the door of the passenger’s side and drags the old man out of the car to safety.  The train soon demolishes the car into a tangled heap of metal before coming to a stop.  The young man tries to catch his breath while the elder gentleman simply says, “why did you stop me?  I wasn’t finished my story.”  Both men experienced the same situation.  The difference in their reactions were simply that the younger man knew what was going to happen while the elder man was blissfully unaware of the danger lurking down the tracks.

None of this is to say that we shouldn’t be aware of dangers or ignorant of facts nor, uneducated.  What it is saying is that we are overloaded with information that oftentimes, is false, misleading and most importantly, un-needed.  We can’t be child-like because we now know too much.  As a matter of fact, we know more than we really need to know and that, in and of itself, causes stress, distress and un-happiness.  We are now incapable of simply living in the moment and being amused with simple things like the taste of our coffee, the smell of freshly cut grass, the clouds that are floating past us above, the purr of our cat, the sound of a stream, a song that we love or many other of the most soothing and amusing things in Life.  Instead, we are analyzing everything silly, thinking about what lays ahead, how much damage it’s doing to us and the world, some study that proves that the caffeine in our wonderful tasting coffee can kill us or how the water in our bottle of water might pollute the earth or be polluted by the chemicals in the plastic bottle or wax that lines the paper take-out cup is toxic.  We’re usually reading or listening to the news which is filled with doom and gloom as that is what sells air/paper time and we’re using technology devices such as our cell phones to look up more crazy-making information.  The list is endless as to how information is slowly not only taking away our happiness and ability to be happy but, is potentially causing us stress that will or could kill us sooner or later.

How many shootings do we need to hear about before we can say, “there’s a lot of kids, killing others with guns”?  How many studies have we all heard, read or talked about that eventually get reversed or at the least, changed because newer studies have proven differently and yet, we’ve given up that great tasting coffee or bread or eggs and, it’s now not only ok to have them but, we find out we should have been having them all along as they’re beneficial to us?  How many car accidents do we need to see on the news at night with people we never met, don’t know and never will know before we get the idea that driving a car in today’s world and in traffic or driving distracted or impaired, can kill us? Do we really need 24/7 news stations that cover a story live and have “experts” on panel to discuss every nuance of the situation?

The bottom line is that we have far too much information floating around in our heads that not only don’t serve us beyond simply having a fact/knowledge but, are harming us in one way or another.  It’s all certainly a stumbling block towards being happy.

If you want to feel a bit happier,

  • Turn off the news or put down that newspaper
  • Quit Googling or Binging or whatever search engine you use for a bit
  • Turn off your cell phone or use it to actually CALL a friend or relative and enjoy talking to them instead of texting or ignoring them.
  • Stop taking every study too seriously because it will eventually turn out to be changed or reversed by another that will follow.
  • Either turn up your favourite music and sing or dance with it or, listen to the birds chirping, the stream sounds or your cat purring for a change
  • Watch a comedy or inspirational movie instead of a horror, police or crime show
  • Read a book or story with an inspirational message behind it
  • Buy yourself an adult colouring book and colour for a change.  Heck, get out the crayons and colour a child’s colouring book.
  • Ditch the “Know-It-Alls” who are walking encyclopedias but, are as negative as hell
  • Limit time with or eliminate those people who are bringing you nothing but headaches or demands for you doing something for them
  • Spend more time with people who make you feel good and most of all, make you laugh
  • Get silly. Roll down a hill, play with toys, splash around in a local pool just for the fun of being in water and weightless or buy yourself a teddy bear.  Seriously.
  • Stay out of your head and thinking for even an hour a day.  Just pay attention to things around you that are soothing and relaxing.  If you can’t find that, find them in your memory bank.  They’re there, believe it or not.
  • Be thankful for what you have right now even if it’s not your dream situation
  • Set aside a worry time of 20 minutes where you write your worries out into a dollar store notebook then shut the journal and tell yourself worry time is over until your next planned session then, get on with something light, silly and funny

These are just a few ideas.  There are plenty more.  If you’re going to Google anything, search for ways to have fun.

Stay light, stay laughing, stay away from people or information that brings you down to a stressed out level as much as possible.  Just be.  Be in the moment and enjoy the little things in Life.  Be happy!

Blessings, Love and Light from my little corner of life to yours.

 

Happiness Part IV: Change A Thought

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There was once a time on a trip where I started to feel “odd”.  I told my husband and fellow travellers that I was feeling strange but, couldn’t peg what it was that was feeling off.  My husband, in all of his wisdom, asked if my stomach was upset, headache, toothache, ear ache, body pain and the list went on almost endlessly until I finally realized something.

“NOTHING is wrong,” I shrieked out with delight. “I’m feeling great!”

For the first time in years, I had no aches, pains, headaches, not even my allergies were acting up.  As a matter of fact, I was feeling darned fabulous.  So, what was my problem?  Why did I think I was feeling so poorly?  The answer was simple.  I wasn’t used to feeling no pain, angst, anxiety or even allergies.  I was used to feeling miserable in one way or another.  Feeling wonderful was a foreign feeling to me so, I thought something was wrong with me.  How sad is that?

Our reality, our happiness, is what we allow ourselves to become used to feeling.  If we feel miserable 90% of the time, the feeling of being miserable is what we’ve become used to and therefore, anything outside of that misery, feels foreign to us.  We measure our wellbeing and happiness, according to how we usually feel and want to get back to that familiar feeling even if we hate it.  It’s what’s familiar to us.  It’s what we see as our “normal” in spite of our blood pressure being through the roof or our stomach in knots almost every day, if not every day.  That’s our gauge.

In my last segment on happiness, I requested that you take note of the thoughts that ran through your head for a couple of days and jot some of them down.  If you weren’t able to do that yet, stop reading here and do it then, come back and continue reading.  It will help you to see where we tend to go wrong in our days with our thinking patterns.  Remember that our thoughts can create our emotions so, if we change our thoughts, we can change our emotions.

I journaled my thoughts over the past couple of days.  My thoughts went something like this:

  • The cat threw up 3 times in one week. She must have a stomach tumour. She’s going to die.
  • I have 3 doctor’s appointments in one day coming up.  How could I be so stupid to book in all of those appointments in one day?  I’m not going to get to them all.  Traffic will be bad and if it’s not, how am I going to fill in the time between appointments?  I’m not going to get through this day.  I’ll be exhausted.
  • The vacuum just quit.  Now, I’m going to have to buy a new vacuum and I can’t afford it.  In the meantime, my allergies are going to go nuts with all of this fur and dander.  I’m going to feel like I have a cold 24/7.  I’m sure getting this fixed will cost as much as a new vacuum.  I’m sunk.
  • My brother is in trouble, mentally, emotionally and physically but, my sister-in-law  doesn’t like me.  I have no money to give him and he won’t call me to talk or come to see me.  I can’t help my brother and he’s going to end up in a psychiatric facility or a hospital.
  • It’s been over a year since I last saw or talked to my daughter.  She’s taken off with a drug-riddled, demented jerk and I will never see her again.  I’m cutting her out of my Will.  I never should have had a child.  I shouldn’t have put all of my energy into raising her to make her happy.  Now I have nothing to show for all of those years.  I’ve wasted 34 years of my life.

That’s only a few of my thoughts these past few days.  Can you spot a pattern in my thinking?  Does your stomach sink while reading my thoughts?  Aren’t those thoughts alone, enough to have you wanting to curl up into a ball even if this is my life, not yours?

In practically all of my thoughts, I can see a pattern that emerges and know that I do it to myself.  I can see that most of my thoughts are not only negative but, they’re catastrophic thoughts and they are fortune-telling with a doom and gloom or worst case scenario style ending.  Instead of simply recognizing that the cat threw up 3 times in the week and assessing her other daily habits (eating, playing, purring etc.), I leapt to the conclusion that she had a tumour and was dying.  In actual fact, she threw up a hairball a day or 2 later.  Rather than seeing that my brother and my daughter’s choices were not within my power to rectify unless they wanted me to help them (which I would gladly do), I jumped to some pretty horrific conclusions about them both.  As for my vacuum, my neighbour had an extra vacuum which she gave to me the next day and can keep until I can afford another one.  The 3 doctor’s appointments in one day, I’ve yet to experience but, I’m sure that I will get through them even if I see it as the world about to cave in on me.  None of them are life threatening appointments and are, for all intents and purposes, preventative rather than appointments that need to go to but, I can’t and won’t cancel them. I simply know now that I should check my planner and space these things a little better in the future.  Lesson learned and there’s nothing catastrophic about going to have a coffee in between if I’m early for one or another of them.

However, I’m sure that I’m not alone in how I think.  Even if your patterns don’t match mine or, you’re nowhere near as bad as I am with my thinking patterns, we can all learn that our thoughts can have great impact in how we’re feeling at any given time.  Our happiness or, in my case, lack of it, depends upon how we think.  We have power over our thoughts no matter how deeply ingrained they may be.  We can learn how to think differently.

There’s more to being happy than our thinking patterns but, that’s for another entry and it’s coming.  If you haven’t checked your own thinking patterns thus far, give it a try.  Even writing them on a napkin or a scrap piece of paper will suffice.  See if you can find a pattern to your thinking.  Let me know what you find by leaving me a comment.

More to come.  Stay tuned.