The Dimmer Switch

“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance. The wise grows it under his feet.”
James Oppenheim 

I read this morning where we have fallen from #3 to #14 in some kind of world happiness report. Just in the past 10 years. This doesn’t surprise me considering the focus we put on bitching and complaining about every damn thing. We’ve gotten really good at pointing fingers, dwelling on what we don’t have that we think we should and comparing ourselves negatively with those around us. We complain. A lot.

Is it that we’ve forgotten how to be grateful on a daily basis? We are better off than most of the world, even those of us considered “poor” and yet we are angry, depressed and constantly trying to row upstream. Do we have a job, a roof over our head, something to eat, a dollar in our pocket or someone who loves us? All of these things are worthy of our gratitude.

“In ordinary life we hardly realize

that we receive a great deal more than we give,

and that it is only with gratitude

that life becomes rich.”
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Not very long ago (at all) I realized I was busting my ass to be “happy”. I was taking the high road, by god, overlooking any felonies and misdemeanors inflicted on my well-being and building up a good case of emo. It was ridiculous.

I was listening to a friend caterwaul about the unfairness of life, and I thought to myself, “Holy shit, I sound like that in my own head”. It was quite disturbing.

I came home and my pups were dancing with joy, I looked around the beautiful home I created for myself, in a lovely neighborhood, where my little car was parked that took me to and from the job I have. I thought of the conversation I’d had with my son the day before, the friends who have stood with me and the family always there for me when I reach out for comfort. And yes, I had a dollar in my wallet. I opened the fridge, got out something to eat, poured a glass of wine, toasted the universe and said …

Thank you.

We get all wrapped up in it don’t we? The lack, the suffering, the challenges and the slights? We get on a roll and focus on the shit and dial down the dimmer switch on all that is good and light and loving around us. We become disgruntled, dissatisfied and ungrateful for the lives we have that others pray for. It’s like we step into a room and look for the dark switch, and for the lack of it we dial it down to emphasize just how hard our struggle is.

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”
Marcus Aurelius

Have you ever been angry, and the more you think about it the angrier you became? That’s what we’re doing to ourselves here. We get to decide what we become by where we place our focus. Anger, sorrow, less than or lack of is one direction. Gratitude, laughter, growth and giving is another. Pick one. If you need any input, I’ve found the second choice is much more fun, and less exhausting.

Let that shit go.

Life is a wonder isn’t it? We deserve good things and good people around us. We have the power to live with intention instead of in reaction to every damn thing. If something is broken we can mend it, nothing is wrong that we can’t right or live through or learn from. It’s a gift isn’t it, that we open our eyes and get another chance to create?

Life is supposed to be fun.

Practice that.

Dial it up.

Happiness is the new bad-ass.


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