I want to take a moment to acknowledge the irony of this being my next prompt after all the posts I’ve made this week… Thanks, Universe. I got the hint. >.>
What makes you happy? Be as specific as you can in listing five things or more. (For instance, if “home” makes you happy, tell us what details about it are so happy-making.)
My cup of coffee in the morning makes me happy. I like the routine of getting out of bed, putting on my glasses, and quietly going downstairs. I love scooping out the instant coffee powder (don’t judge me) into my red cup that I’ve had for years. I love listening to the water run as I fill the cup. I love the minute and twenty seconds I stand in front of the microwave, breathing, waiting, calm in the moment, knowing my cup will feel warm in my hands.
I love the time it takes for me to drink my coffee. The silence of the apartment. Sometimes I sit on the couch. Sometimes I play music. Sometimes I sit outside on my doorstep and listen to the cars driving by on the road near my apartment. Sometimes it’s sunny. Sometimes I’m sad because I miss mom still. Sometimes I’m worried about the day because I have a lot to do, or I’m worried my grief will keep me from doing the things I feel I should get done.
It doesn’t really matter how my day starts. My cup of coffee brings warmth to it, physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. It’s “my” time. Lately, I’ve been able to share this time with Big Bad, and that, too, is something I love. I’ve never really shared this time with anyone else, and it makes me happy when he’s part of it.
Cleaning makes me happy. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true. I like putting in effort into the spaces that are important to me. It makes me feel like I belong. That I’m part of it. I remember there was a Saturday class at the dojo I was going to for aikido. We were going to have a seminar that night for a visiting sensei. I was allowed to dust and polish the shrine. It made me feel like I belonged. I was a part of the dojo because I was helping to care for it.
It’s a similar feeling when I clean my room, or kitchen, or my car. These are my things and I put time and effort into caring for them. It makes me happy to take pride in things that are a reflection of me.
I hesitate to type this, but I think writing makes me happy. I hesitate because I think of all the times I have sat at my keyboard and cried as I typed, but I also remember the peace and acceptance I found after all of those painful, anguished writings. Happiness is not always easily attained. Sometimes it is a hard road to get there. Writing has helped me get through some of the darkest moments in my life. Very rarely are answers black and white. Life doesn’t work that way, so yes, even though it’s a confusing, gray yes, I have to say that writing makes me happy.
Training makes me happy. Going to the dojo for jujitsu and Muay Thai, taking my belly dancing classes, yoga, running, biking, pushing myself to be better than I was the day before. That makes me happy. There’s part of me who views all of these things as easy now. I survived mom’s death. I’ve made it almost one year. Everything else is trivial, easy.
The pain I feel of my body wanting to quit, the tiredness of physical exertion, it’s nothing compared to the pain of having mom’s urn handed back to me from the TSA worker. The fear I used to have about my car breaking down, or what people thought of me, of not being thin enough for society, that’s all white noise to me now. Silly. Petty.
I train because it makes me better. It teaches me about myself, about other people. It shows me how we all struggle and that even though the struggle is hard, that in the end, it’s worth it. Change, improvement, can’t happen without pain, sacrifice, and effort.
I train as a way to understand and accept the emotions I have in regards to my mom’s death. I train because she died. Finding acceptance and understanding makes me happy.
The people in my life make me happy. And again, that’s something I hesitate to type, though I feel it’s true. The support of my brothers, the thoughtfulness of my sister-in-law, the friends who have reached out to me with love and compassion, the strangers who have been kind to me without realizing what I have been struggling with, the drunk guy who came up and hugged me and said God loves me and has plans for me even though at the time I felt lost and alone.
Even the people who in my past have hurt me. Zane and his betrayal, Warren #2 and my rape, Joe and his manipulation and lies. I am grateful for them and the lessons I learned through surviving those experiences.
I am happy for the darkness I was made to walk through because I know how to help others walk through it. I know how to be light and hope for others. I know how to be kind and loving. I understand how to empathize and relate.
I am happy for the people in my life who help me get through the hard times I’m still experiencing. Even when it feels pointless they stay by me. Even when it feels like I throw a fit like a child and cry about how “it’s not fair”, they stay by me. Their acceptance and understanding make me happy, and I love them for it.
What do you do to make others happy, whether on purpose or not?
I don’t feel like I do anything special. I am myself, and I guess a lot of people appreciate that. I call or message people randomly. When I feel sad I post something positive on Facebook. Without fail, there’s always one person who replies saying how they were having a shitty day and my post made them smile. That makes me smile. It makes me feel like even though I’m sad and lonely that I’m not alone.
I listen when others need to talk. I ask how their day is going and genuinely care about the answer. I hug the people who are important to me. I tell people I love them because I don’t want us to part ways and for them to not know that I care. In the chaos of life, I might never get the chance to say it again and I need them to know.
I smile and nod to people I pass. I laugh when something’s funny. I sing along with my music in the car with my windows down or songs playing through the speakers at the grocery store. We only have the moment we’re in and I told mom I would live life fully, so I am. I think people, at least some people, can sense that, and that feeling that makes them happy.
Do you agree with Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general, that “when we contribute to the common good, we ourselves are enriched”? Have you ever had the experience of being made happy by helping someone else?
Yes. Several times. There was one night where I was at a gas station and a man came up to me asking if I could help him. He didn’t have any money and asked if I could buy him a can of soup. He didn’t ask for cash or list off any of the normal stories I’ve heard. He seemed so disheartened coming up to me and all he wanted was soup. We went into the store together and I bought him food.
We stood in line together awkwardly. I paid. He thanked me and I wished him well. I then went to my car in cried because that day had really sucked for me. If I went back through my blog I’m sure I could find the post. I’m pretty sure I was feeling lost and directionless again, for different reasons than what I do know. Mom was still alive then. But the fact remains that I felt so helpless and powerless with my own life that I wanted was to be a positive influence for someone else, and I was able to that night. Being able to help someone else made me feel like there was still a reason to keep going.
Do you ever literally “count your blessings,” as the Action for Happiness organization in Britain urges people to do? If so, what’s on your list right now?
Yes. I was at the gym before I went to Disney. I had run and was in the back trying to stretch my hamstrings out. I was going through different yoga poses but I wasn’t really peaceful or meditative while I was doing it. My heart chakra was aching. It has been recently, and at the moment I felt sad. I was in child’s pose with my arms stretched out in front of me and I was thinking about how I missed mom.
I pushed my right index finger more firmly against the ground.
I pressed my right middle finger against the ground.
Right ring finger.
I thought about them and why I’m glad they are there. I have more than ten people in my life who help me. Taking the time to think of people, name them, and remember why they are positive influences for me shifted my day. Even though I hurt I still have good things in my life. Sometimes the pain becomes all consuming and I forget about the good that’s still there.
Maybe I should do that more often when the pain wells up. Stop and count ten good things. I wonder if that would help my grief.