Misery & Happiness
ðŸ§¡â€The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention.” ~Sharon Salzberg
I ran across that quote, and it allowed me to pause and think about its meaning. That thought has never crossed my mind, and I’m not sure I agree with it, but then again, there’s a nugget of truth therein. Iâ€™m aware I can avoid some misery by concentrating on something else, but there are some you cannot avoid. My son was suffering from pancreatic cancer in 2018 and passed away shortly after the diagnosis. That misery was unavoidable. We moved from a spacious home into a cottage half its size and had to give away or sell many of the things we treasured. That misery was avoided by changing our attention to adapting to our unfamiliar environment, making new friends, and creating new routines in our life.
Happiness is not something you want to avoid. The effort is to keep it around as long as possible. I believe two of the key ingredients for happiness are your positive thoughts and your wiliness to make those thoughts part of every day.
My mother was a good example of that very concept. Dad drank often and as young boys, my brother and I worried about him. My mother refused to be depressed, at least around us, and always had a cheerful attitude. It’s incalculable how much that meant to us. We all have read that a child of an alcoholic, even as an adult, is always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I find myself, at my advanced age, falling into that pattern. And, per Ms. Salzburg, I know I can evade that misery by changing my attention to something else. I kinda think I’ve always done that. I just never realized it.
â¤ï¸Recently, my friend (Jerry) asked me if I would follow him to the nearby Buick dealership the next morning. His car needed attention, and he needed a ride back to his apartment in our retirement village. We made plans to stop off for breakfast at the local Cracker Barrel restaurant on our return. That sounded like fun to me, so I assured him I would be happy to do it. I am seldom around men only. There always seems to be a woman present, and men talk about different things when they aren’t near. Mostly, it’s about sports, cars, finance, fixing something, etc., but we don’t talk about that around female company because we suspect they aren’t interested in it. Do I enjoy female company, definitely, but I think it’s important for each sex to reserve time to enjoy each other’s company.
Anyway, Jerry dropped his car off at the dealership, and we headed around the corner to the restaurant and ordered our food. Cracker Barrel makes a darn good breakfast, and as we sat there bantering back and forth, I realized I was really enjoying myself. Sometimes, I’m amazed at how little it takes to make me happy. Of course, friends of excellent character (like Jerry), and excellent food, have always done that for me.
Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming more interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” I Couldn’t agree more ðŸ˜Š.
â¤ï¸ I devised what I think is an ingenious plan that will encourage me to get up from my desk and go outside for a walk. My original title was, “Pay to Watch”, but my wife convinced me to change it to, “Walk to Watch” and that’s a better title. It specifies that I have to walk one mile (2,000 steps) for each hour of television I watch (Mon-Fri). I may revise it later to include Saturday, but for now, I’m leaving it at 5 days per week.
Normally, we sit down nightly at around 7:30 to gaze at the “tube” interminably (3 hours). “Walk to Watch” requires me to take at least 6,000 steps if this old man wants to squander that much time. Considering how much of that precious commodity I have left to wander around on this beautiful planet, it causes me to consider whether that’s an effective use of my limited resources. Of course, I have always known that my existence on earth wasn’t unlimited. I just never considered that I would use so much of it so quickly.
The goal of this well-thought-out plan is to allow me to prolong the date and time of the endgame and be fairly healthy when it happens (although the Holy Bible tells us it is set in stone). If the date and time can’t be changed, then at least I may affect the health thing?
I won’t have trouble meeting the challenge on Mon, Wed, & Fri, but Tuesdays & Thursdays will require a major change in my daily activities.
It has been in place for a week and has been successful thus far, but the rub comes when I’m weeks into the change and my body is trying to convince my brain to forget about it. I discovered long ago that my body was pretty good at doing that very thing.
I figure that if I can stay with it for a couple of months, itâ€™ll become a habit, and then my body sees it as a hopeless situation and gives in. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesnâ€™t. Only time will tell ðŸ˜Š.
I kinda like this quote by Aristotle: “Learning is an ornament in prosperity, a refuge in adversity, and a provision in old age.”
â¤ï¸ We have two new friends (Nancy & Richard) and, as it happens, they are members of our church, and our paths crossed occasionally. We go to the 0845 services and they to the 11 am, so we saw each other infrequently. They moved into our retirement community a couple of months ago and we have been enjoying Sunday brunch with them weekly.
Nancy has impressed me with her knowledge of sports. Yeah, I know, I said women werenâ€™t interested in sports, but sheâ€™s the exception.
I have known very few women that are interested in watching testosterone-driven male athletes perform. My wife will watch Sunday NFL games with me, but she soon drops off to sleep and awakes occasionally to look at the score and then returns to her slumber.
My son was an avid sports enthusiast, and he could talk for hours about the current state of affairs in all the sports. He knew the names of the players, what college they attended, and there were times I thought he was going to tell me the names of their parents ðŸ˜Š.
Well, I think Nancy can do the same thing. As Iâ€™ve gotten older, Iâ€™ve lost interest in sports, but I enjoy watching a game here and there. Iâ€™m betting that when Nancy opens the paper, she heads straight for the sports section and reads everything in it, and her weekends probably include watching her favorite teams play. I would be surprised if she doesn’t have ESPN “SportsCenter” on speed dialðŸ˜.
We could say that thinking only men care deeply about sports is sexist. All I can say in response is that in my 80 years on this planet I have only known three women that were deeply interested in sports and Nancy ranks either 1st or 2nd in that group. I can also say that when men talk about sports and women are around, their eyes glaze over and they appear to be wishing to be anyplace other than being stuck in a conversation about sports.
I have to say that Iâ€™m always impressed when Iâ€™m around someone thatâ€™s well versed in any subject. I quickly discovered after moving here that there are many people with a lot of knowledge in this community. Regrettably, I should have known that to be true. I often read reports created by a â€œThink Tank.â€ Iâ€™ll bet thereâ€™s enough knowledge to start one here. Iâ€™m contemplating calling it, â€œThe Senior Thinkers,â€ or perhaps, â€œThe Elder Brain Trustâ€? Although, I doubt that anyone on our campus thinks of themselves as elderly. ðŸ˜Š
Marcel Proust said, “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.â€