Finding Happiness

Stress-Free is the Way to BeHere I am at age 44, unemployed and not entirely sure in which direction my life will be going next.

But I’m happy. Very happy, in fact.

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine tonight about what it takes to achieve personal happiness. And the one thing we both agreed on was this: it takes one person, and that person is you.

The choices you make, the words you say, the things you do are ultimately what will lead you to your happy place.

This was apparent when a Facebook friend posted a Status Update regarding some people who may have been offended by the pictures of her art she was posting. Judging by her comment, that’s exactly what happened.

The art was by no means repulsive nor sexually explicit, but it was definitely eye-catching. Personally, I dig what she’s doing and her explanation was that it makes her happy in a time when, like myself, she is dealing with being out of work. Her art is her expression, something that as a blogger and artist I can fully grasp.

My reply was that if you go through life doing what makes you happy and not hurting anyone, then you’re doing what’s right. And she definitely is. She’s making a choice to be happy by engaging in her art, and my hat is off to her.

And as I mentioned in a previous post, losing my job this year was not the catastrophe to end all catastrophes. But didn’t seem that way in 2009 when I would wake up in the morning feeling lost after being on the job for nearly 3 years. I felt as if I had lost everything.

Since I started to read about Buddhism and other philosophies this year, I’ve been having a different outlook on many things. Evening meditation is also helping me clear my mind from anything that might be fogging it up. As a result, instead of moping around when I wake up, I welcome the day – even when my unemployment checks are a fraction of what they were back in 2009.

And here’s why finances are not a big issue with us right now. When we got our taxes done last year, we paid off every credit card we had and swore to not get ourselves in such a bind ever again. It’s no fun having to talk to credit card people about arranging payments and if that can’t be done, opening letters demanding immediate payment with interest.

We made the choice last year to rid ourselves of such debt and as of now, outside of standard living expenses like food, car payments, cell phones, and utilities, we don’t have any. The result is happiness that we chose to make for ourselves: a mailbox full of ads and occasional “real” mail, 98% of which can be thrown out because it’s nothing but junk. In fact we often joke that most of the stuff isn’t even worth delivering because we know that most of what’s in there will be trivial.

Same with phone calls: now all we get are solicitations from contractors about solar panels. Well, save for the letters and calls we get from collection agencies for my brother, all of whom think he lives here.

He chose to be in debt. Now he’s up to his eyeballs in it, and I’m pretty sure he’s not dancing in the streets over it. Having been in that situation and resolved the matter, I just can’t feel sorry for someone who lets their debt spiral out of control.

Again, his choice. I know it’s fun to have nice things but when you can’t pay for them, you’re asking for trouble. And now he has it.

So what makes me happy?

Running makes me happy. So does cycling, karaoke, writing, doodling, being with family (pets included), watching baseball games, or simply waking up in the morning. Being happy is indeed a state of mind and it’s something that you have total control over.

That’s not to say that every blog post from here on in will be flowery and filled with unicorns and rainbows. In fact I can practically guarantee you that you will still see negative stuff on here, the result of which won’t be due to a personal choice. Chances are it will be the result of something well out of my control, and the blog will serve as an outlet to express my feelings about it.

And you really shouldn’t let stuff beyond your control bother you. It’s tough but I’m still trying.

By the way, the graphic you see at the top of the page is a screengrab from an app called StressCheck. And while I understand it’s only a phone app and my no means scientific, the result you see is no fluke – my stress level is at 1% nearly every time I try the app, even on Ann’s phone.

Okay, fine. Here’s my heart rate taken with Instant Heart Rate.


Again, the norm for me. I’m usually between this and 56 which is darn good.

So what does all of this health stuff have to do with finding happiness?

A lot. I believe that by choosing what you think is right, chances are you will reduce the level of stress in your life and not fear that your heart is going to explode.

This is the path I’ve chosen to take, and it has brought me much happiness in a time when most people would be upset. I appreciate the small things and don’t stress over much of anything anymore.

Don’t waste your time being miserable. Happiness comes down to one person, and you see them every day in the mirror.

May the choices you make be the ones that bring a smile to your face.