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Monday, April 29, 2013

Pollyanna Patrol



I was alone in the office, pin-balling between three lines ringing at once and a listen-to-the-birds-in-the-bushes dead-dog quiet.  It was Friday.  Caught up on the week’s work and counting down until my noon departure, during one of the lulls I didn’t have the where-with-all to start anything new…and the computer sat in front of me.

Over the last few days, I’ve concluded it’s time to wean myself from the detailed discourse filling the local newspapers and on line sites relating to the Marathon tragedy.  It hit home on so many levels and it's still too close.  I recognize I pour over information in an attempt to gain insight as to why someone would choose to perpetrate such an act.  But now, I get I will find nothing definitive, no matter where I look.  There will be supposition of course, and conjecture, and psychologists’ educated hypotheses.  Maybe even a detailed confession will rise to the light of news-media day.  But however much we study or analyze or debate or finger point, we will never know…which in itself becomes overwhelming, a realization of all of the things on which this may have opened the door, horrors I fear we have yet to imagine. 
 
It’s a anxiety-provoking line of thought.

So, rather than hitting my normal news sites, I Googled an old writer acquaintance, with whom I’ve lost touch, whose words always filled and soothed me, but who I worry may not be writing any more.  Relief filtered through when I found her name on the acknowledgement page written for a book called  The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. 

Hmm…  Happiness, a project? 
 
By the time I left work, I’d read a blurb on Amazon and planned to buy the book, so more on that later perhaps.   At that moment though, the idea resonated.  On an afternoon when spring pushed itself from the dead arms of winter trees, I decided for one hour, to make happiness my project.  On my way to the car, during the drive to the grocery store and on the subsequent ride home, I paid attention to things that made me feel better inside...things like the florescent shirts of the nursery school kids playing tag on the common, and the blooming Bradford Pear trees lining the sidewalks downtown.  Then there were the new cloth awnings that look like teal eye shadow above the windows of the former hardware store, now a renovated bank building.

As I walked to the car, a curly-haired toddler sang in his stroller as his mother pushed him up a small incline, and on my drive down Pond Street, jonquils bloomed peach and yellow against a granite stone wall.

At the store, a clerk refused to charge me a requisite $.20 for two packs of oyster crackers to go with my clam chowder, and in the parking lot an attendant in a tie-dyed shirt, stacked carriages while singing reggae at the top of his lungs

Such small things really, so I won't bore you with more...other than to tell you I wrote a list, and it was almost two pages long.  As I recorded each item, I marveled that because, in a way, I'd asked them to, every one of these uplifting details resonated.  Oh, sure, I get that on a day when spring isn’t screaming out loud and pointing to itself to make sure we notice, happiness may be more of a project.  And the long-term attainment of such a condition requires more than an hour’s commitment.  I wonder though.  Like the bloggers at the Kindness Project, who bring attention and methods and ideas toward a better state of being, perhaps all we need to entice happiness our way, is to open ourselves up to it—to make the effort to be aware of things that hold potential to make us feel good. 
    
I don’t know about you, but the idea that tuning in might be all it takes hit me like a revelation. One that makes me feel...well, maybe not all the way happy, but definitely full of relief.

8 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Happiness and joyful moments are there if we look for them.
Another blogger friend read that book and blogged about it on a weekly basis and she applied it to her life. I think you'll really enjoy it.

Old Kitty said...

I always believe it's the little acts of kindness - someone helps pick up something you've dropped, someone helps you with directions when lost - that make a big big difference in a world seemingly gone mad with hate and negativity!

Take care
x

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Beautiful insight, Liza! You're so right that we can change how we see things. I find it easy to slip into anxiety and melancholy with news such as we've had, but my spirits lift when I hear a child laugh or see a kite flying or some random person smiles and says hello.

glnroz said...

i think there are "bad" things out there that folks like you and I dont understand and certainly in my case, have no answer to fix. Just keep'em at bay and feel good toward the ones that share... thanx, glenn

Robin said...

Hahahaha. You and I are on the same page today. This makes me soooo happy.

Carol Kilgore said...

I'm definitely a believer in this. You can find happiness in so many things if you look for it. And when you find it, invite it inside to play.

For if you focus on the darkness, that void is all you will find.

Jennifer Shirk said...

That is great. There is a writer--Ann Voskamp who wrote a book 1000 Gifts and pretty much did that and daily wrote down blessings in her life that she was thankful for. Such a simple thing to do but so worth it.

Fe said...

Fabulous. Thanks Liza

The old Sunday School song comes to mind:

I am H. A. P. P. Y., I am H. A. P. P. Y.
I know I am, I'm sure I am
I am H. A. P. P. Y..

God Bless :)