Tag Archives: Happiness

ROLLER COASTER: My word(s) for 2023

“Roller coasters are driven almost entirely by basic inertial, gravitational and centripetal forces=, all manipulated in the service of a great ride.”

https://science.howstuffworks.com/engineering/structural/roller-coaster.htm

Hang on! It’s going to be a great ride!

My family helped me to choose this year’s word(s) over New Year’s Day dinner. I liked the idea of surrendering to the ups and downs of what life brings to me. (For the record the other words chosen by my family were: ADVENTURE, PROACTIVE, CALM, AND INTEGRITY.)

We spent some time discussing whether ROLLER COASTER should be disqualified because it’s two words instead of one, but I’m rolling with it because it’s a single concept, so I think it counts.

I’m on the 2023 roller coaster. Wheels clank against the rails as we climb up, up up. I can’t wait to see what’s on the other side of the crest of the track.

I’ll do my best to throw up my arms, shriek, and enjoy the ride.

Roller coaster cars cling to the edge of a curver.
Photo by Stas Knop on Pexels.com

Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas

King Charles III and the Queen Consort, Camilla, released their first Christmas card since Charles became king. The message reads: Wishing you a very Happy Christmas and New Year.

Upon seeing this, my husband noted that in Canada we tend to wish people a Merry Christmas, whereas residents of the UK wish people a happy one.

Having mulled it over, in future I will wish people a Happy Christmas, because that is my truer wish. A person can be merry without being happy at all.

Merriment is surface stuff. To be merry, a person needs only to smile, laugh, and overindulge in shortbread and eggnog.

Happiness runs deeper than that. A happy person doesn’t need to be merry at all. Happiness is sitting at peace in the moment and being grateful for what is. The merriment, the gifts, the gingerbread, and the spiked hot chocolate are mere bonuses.

No matter what or how you celebrate, may you sit at peace in the moment, grateful for what is.

Happy Christmas.

A lit Christmas ball hangs from the branch of a tree laden with snow.

3 things to hate and love for fun and gratitude

During a writing workshop led by the fabulous Melissa Yi (emergency room doctor and writer, because both are so easy), she proposed finding humour by turning hate into love.

Here’s how it works: Think of a situation, and name three things you hate about it. Perhaps a ride on a municipal bus, for example.

  • I hate when a bus is late, so I have to stand outside and wait.
  • I hate when people hold long, loud telephone conversations on a bus. I especially hate when they use speakerphone.
  • I hate when someone falls asleep and snores.

You’re with me? All those things are contemptible. But Melissa suggested I should flip that into love.

  • I love when the bus is late, because it gives me time to have a conversation with a neighbour and hear all about his prostate operation.
  • I love when people hold loud, long telephone conversations, because it gives me good dialogue tips for the annoying characters in my stories. And speakerphone gives me both sides of the conversation. Two annoying characters at once!
  • I love when someone falls asleep and snores. It keeps me awake so I don’t miss my stop.

Here’s your challenge for the day. Turn some hate into love. You might laugh, and you’ll for sure find some gratitude.

A stop sign is posted on a gate, Below the words STOP are the words HATE. STOP HATE.

Asking is better than wishing

I work part-time at a library. Almost every day this happens:

A child about 7 or 8 years old enters with a parent.

"Mommy (or Daddy), do they have books about____________ (dinosaurs... Lego... unicorns...)?"

"You'll have to ask," the parent says.

The child slinks behind the parent's leg, unwilling to face the scary prospect of talking to an adult. "You ask."

Last week a similar scenario unfolded beside me. A young boy asked his father about a book and his father told him to ask me.

After some time the boy worked up his nerve. “Do you have The Mysterious Benedict Society?

“Yes!” I said. “Right over here.” We walked together to pick up the book.

“See?” his father said. “Asking is better than wishing.”

The rest of the afternoon I pondered,:

  • Have I been wishing for things without doing the asking?
  • Could I receive those things if I voiced the request?

If you could work up the nerve right now, what would you ask for?

A child's drawing of a house full of cats. The heading reads: If I had one wish, I would wish for 18 kittens."
My daughter once wished for 18 kittens. She never ASKED for them though . . .

Power, prickly pears and puffballs

A doozy of a storm blew through Ontario, Canada on Saturday, May 21. In Ottawa, the storm caused more damage than either our legendary ice storm of 1998 or our more recent tornado. The tornado destroyed 80 hydro poles; this storm toppled 300.

We lost power for 7 days.

At that, we were lucky. Most houses in our neighbourhood are still without. As I write this, I hear generators in the distance. And chainsaws. And sirens.

Living without power for that long is disorienting for people of the 21st Century. We couldn’t focus. Routines fell apart. Sleep patterns were disrupted. We ate differently, and our digestive tracts protested. We moved from one room to another with a flashlight in one hand while flicking a (useless) light switch with the other.

Unable to work, or do pretty much anything, people moved around neighbourhoods like zombies. We mourned the loss of beloved trees. So many trees toppled or torn in two.

The event reminded us of the cruel indifference of nature. Sometimes a perfectly healthy tree had snapped while older, sicker ones nearby stayed standing.

The storm was not “fair” or “unfair.” It was its wild self.

Through it all, when we met neighbours on our walks, we counted our blessings:

  • We didn’t have bombs falling on our heads.
  • Gunmen were not shooting up our schools.
  • We had access to generators.
  • We had to worry about losing food, so that meant we had food to lose.
  • We had no internet, but we had data plans!

I found another blessing while burning up data on my phone powered by a generator, I read a post on one of my favourite Facebook pages: The View From Connaught Pond, Grant Dobson | Facebook. I learned that the prickly pear cactus can thrive in Canada. I never would have thought it! That simple knowledge gave me joy in our time of frustration.

Another spot of joy came when I dug around in my garden and came upon some puffballs. I hadn’t seen them since I was a kid tromping around our farm woodlot. It was a simple, silly thing, but it brought light to my day when electricity couldn’t.

Watch the puffball, and tell me, what brought you gratitude and joy today?

My husband demonstrates proper puffball technique.

Total amazement

In the movie Joe Versus the Volcano, a man (played by Tom Hanks) believes he is dying of an incurable disease. He agrees to travel to a South Pacific island to throw himself into a volcano to satisfy the beliefs of the superstitious island residents.

But as he travels there, he . . . wakes up.

“Almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to . . . only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.” 

—from Joe Versus the Volcano by John Patrick Shanley

Total amazement happens often enough. But, constant total amazement? Much more challenging.

Usually, we need jarring events to awaken us. Power outages jolt us into amazement electric lights—the ones we flick on without a thought.

A broken leg—or even a cut on a finger—painfully reminds us of the wonder of a healthy body.

How about the device you’re reading this on? Isn’t the technology totally amazing?

We need to fall asleep to the amazement sometimes, just so we can function. After all, somebody has to do the dishes. If we lived in constant total amazement, we might get no farther than our bedroom doors every morning, or the park bench on a sunny afternoon. Because constant total amazement stops us in our tracks.

Perhaps John Patrick Shanley was right when he wrote those words for Joe Versus the Volcano. Maybe almost the whole world is asleep, just so we can get the dishes done and the lawn mowed.

But maybe, if we think about that, it will prompt us to wake up at least some of the time, maybe a little more often than we usually do. It’s a start.

What is totally amazing around you right now?

In the photo below you can see that my son is doing is best to live in constant total amazement.

Man sitting on a cliff edge in the south of France.
Yeah, mothers don’t worry at all when they see photos like this.