June 29, 2014 § 8 Comments
Everybody’s doing it. Consciously or not ~ we’re all trying to be happy.
Joy. Delight. Contentment. Love, peace and harmony. It’s a basic urge, in varying degrees of intensity depending on our genetic makeup, manifesting in different ways, but it’s there. Elusive. Sneaky. Not completely reliable.
So, this is a test. I’m calling it the “Outrageous Happiness Experiment”.
It started after a friend gave me a book. (Ah, the power of the written word in action, yet again!) It’s the true and rather amazing account of the extraordinary life of Tracy Evans*, a physician’s assistant who decides to follow God wherever He leads; Tracy calls it “radical faith”.
Towards the end of this adventurous read, feeling both uplifted and somewhat inadequate, I had an inspiration; something I could apply to my own life: why not radical happiness? Kind of like positive thinking on steroids. Because at the root of positive thought lies a certain amount of faith, and trust, and hope. And if you know anything about me by now (whether you know me personally, or have read my posts for a while), it’s that I’m a staunch optimist and a huge, huge, believer in the power of thought to shape both ourselves and our world.
Being a staunch optimist doesn’t necessarily mean wearing rose-colored glasses – I readily admit to the stray string of curses when a driver cuts someone off, or the random rage about the digitally over-stimulated age we live in. I also confess that after watching half an hour of the news, the cynic in me comes roaring to the surface, feeling helplessly disturbed by the nature of the human beast ~ or more to the point, the ones that make headlines. Just the mention of it, my blood can start to boil – with nowhere to flow to.
So I go back, as I always must do, to what I can do in my world, and what each of us can do for our little corners of the planet, period. If everyone paid attention to honoring positive values by living them, what a better place the world would be. (Reminiscent of my 52 Weeks of Peace message.) In the face of the madness of the world at large, throwing bucket loads of good stuff at it seems the only sane route ~ not to mention, a pretty potent force.
So that’s where I go. I bring out the pen, the paper, or play a tune on the piano to bring the boiling blood back to normal temps. Tend some flowers. Slow down. Do something nice for a stranger. Practice what I preach. Watch my thoughts. Bend my mind to the sun, open my heart to light and more light.
And yet, even with the best of intentions, challenges to our happiness quotient, our “positive thinking” efforts and our spiritual well-being, can pop up like militant weeds after a spring rain, threatening to overrun our mind’s well-tended garden. The usual culprits like setbacks with money and health can hit you right between the eyes without an ounce of compassion. Just making air-travel plans these days can launch an onset of anxiety. And yep, other people, even (or especially) those we love, can take our mood on a quick virtual trip to an emotional amusement park ride.
No one said life would be easy.
It’s also curious, this life business. Just when you think you’ve got more character than you thought possible, along comes more character-building opportunity! …. And so it goes, and keeps on going, and we keep living and learning and growing and changing until our proverbial time is up.
And since I figure I have a long time before my number is called, I want to live it well! I also figure a lot of that is up to me. It suppose it could be in the stars. It might already be planned out, pre-destined. Heck, it could be luck of the draw. But on the chance I have some say in all this, I might as well take the reins in whatever way I feel I can.
So who’s in? For a year, I’m gonna give it my best shot, and invite you to do the same. I’m going to give my positive thinking practice a hefty dose of adrenalin, each and every morning. Supplements throughout the day as needed. The key here is going overboard. Crazy optimism. Being outrageously positive.
An aside: Just this morning I was put to the test. You know, kinda like when your happy place plummets from a 9 to a 2 in under a minute. I thought, oh the hell with it. Who am I kidding with this “Outrageous Happiness” idea. Isn’t it enough just managing daily life sometimes? How will I sustain a radical level of positivity?
Then I thought, well this is just perfect, isn’t it? Any time is perfect. And at any time we might trip up. It’s (of course) what we do with that stumble. The point isn’t to walk around with a smile plastered to your face or pretend bad things don’t happen, or that as a human being, you don’t have ups and downs and a whole array of complex emotions at any given time. The point is to observe, and find a point of light to move forward from.
Personally, this has been a very weird year so far. Lots of transition, some dramatic shifting going on. The best way I can sum it up is to say that at some points I feel absolutely certain I’m supposed to toss up my hands and say, “Okay Universe, have at it. Whatever it is you have planned for me here, I’ll try to get out of the way so you can do your wonderful thing.”
Can’t say I know how it’ll play out, but approaching it with a ridiculously happy intention seems like a good idea. It’ll be interesting to look back a year from now, and see where the experiment has led ~ or if it’s really not in my hands at all.
The world is a mess. What better time to shake things up with some unexpected happy? If you want to try an “outrageous happiness” commitment in your life, too, I’d love to have you join me. Let’s get this party started! How amazing can we be?!
Stay tuned. Positive, possibly outrageous, updates to follow.
* The book about Tracy Evans is called Outrageous Courage: What God Can Do with Raw Obedience and Radical Faith. Not a sugar-coated do-good story, but a page-turning real life account of adventure and unabashed zeal. She is truly an exceptional being.