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Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Happiness from the Outside, In

Maureen Pratt Author Pic“Happiness is a by-product. You cannot pursue it by itself.”  Samuel Levenson, American humorist (1911-80)

My page-a-day Old Farmer’s Almanac calendar often has pithy quotes that stir my thinking. The one above, on Thursday’s page, struck me as tremendously appropriate for those of us living with chronic illnesses. How often have you said, “I just want to be happy,” while feeling the weight of pain, meds, and restrictions imposed by health challenges?  How often have you winced at someone saying, “Just have a positive attitude – that’ll make you feel better,” knowing that the energy it takes to muster up that ‘positive attitude’ isn’t in your proverbial emotional reservoir?

The quote above offers a clue to a more realistic look at happiness in our lives. Happiness, to the author, is not something isolated or attainable “as is.” Rather, it’s something we achieve by doing something else, by going after something else. That ‘something,’ if positive and productive, yields a sense of self-worth, accomplishment, satisfaction, and, yes, happiness.

But what to achieve? What to pursue? How can we possibly do something so monumental that it stirs happiness up from the ‘swamp’ of sadness, frustration, pain and other negative feelings swirling in our souls?

I don’t think it has to be anything huge or newsworthy. Nor does it have to be long-term. Those positive actions and pursuits can be as simple as doing one, small thing a day toward better health or seeking to do one, anonymous act of kindness. We can remember to celebrate the good things that happen in our world, however truncated, and we can look upon our prayer time as an oasis of calm and peace with God that then brings a warm glow – yes, happiness – to our fragile spirits.

Happiness from the inside, out? That’s a tough proposition. But happiness from the outside, in – that’s infinitely doable!
Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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