The Foundation of Life

The last thing I want to discuss, in what seems to have become a series of posts about Life, is “personal independence”.

Before I get started, I’d like to share a link with you. The content relates well with this post – Personal Growth, Personal Independence: The Limit Is Me

If you followed the link, you may agree with the suggestion that the only person in charge of your life…is you. We can listen to other people, but in the end it is our choice when it comes to making a decision. If we allow another person to make decisions for us, that is also our own doing so we can’t complain. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but generally speaking the majority of us have control of our own lives.

I look around and see so many people unhealthily attached to someone else. They usually call this attachment…a relationship; meaning the person is their husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, or life partner – but they can’t see that they are dependent on that person.

Dependency on another person stifles a person’s growth. It affects their outlook and their confidence. It also affects the way they look at themselves. It makes them scared of things that shouldn’t even be thought of unless the thing actually happens. A person who is dependent on another is crushed to the point of believing that they cannot carry on when that person disappears from their life, ie divorce or death, whereas an independent person will still grieve, but they will be able to pick up the pieces…eventually.

My mother is dependent on my father. I know, without doubt, that should anything happen to my dad, my mum will give up on life altogether. I’ve seen it in her eyes and I’ve heard it in her voice when she thought she might loss him (medically; he’s fine now). However, if my mother goes before my father, he will be devastated but he’ll get through it. Neither of my parents planned for this to happen, it evolved over their 50 years of marriage and I doubt they are even fully aware that it occured.

In my own relationship, my partner refuses to let me become dependent on him. He wants me to be my own person and be strong for myself. He wants me to stand on my own two feet and face every obstacle head on. I could say he’s mean for doing that to me, but I know that he’s doing it because he loves me and cares about my future. If anything happened to him, he wants to know that I have the confidence to move through the grief and get on with my life (yes, he told me this).

In truth, no one should willingly give control of their life to someone else. No one should demand that of them. No one should willingly take it either. Anyone who does should have their motives questioned.

I believe that personal independence leads to the other important ingredients in life. This is what a happy life is built on. It makes for a firm foundation. And when something starts out strong there is more chance that it will survive the worst hurricane life can throw at it.

When you look in a mirror, do you like the person staring back at you?

Reaching Out for Happiness

This morning I was talking about Hope. This afternoon I want to talk about “happiness”. This is another complex topic that needs a lot of thought. To be honest, I’m not sure I’ll be able to write about it effectively. But I’ll try.

To begin with, what is “happiness”?

Happiness is a state of mind or feeling characterized by contentment, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy.

Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happiness

I agree whole heartedly. When I’m feeling content, I’m usually happy. I sat back and thought about the people I know. Are they happy? Some are not, I know that without doubt. But others appear to be happy, yet I know they have a lot of problems, so are they really happy?

Thinking about this made me think about what these people have and if that makes a difference.

You might think that happy people have lots of money, are physically attractive, have great jobs, or own the latest gadgets. Or, you might just think happy people are plain lucky and are born that way.

Research suggests, however, that there are a number of variables that make a far greater contribution to happiness than external and superficial factors.

That doesn’t mean that if you have a lot of money you won’t be happy- or that having a lot of money is bad, it just means that other factors are more important in determining happiness. In fact, a strong positive relationship between job status/income/wealth and happiness only exists for those who live below the poverty line and/or who are unemployed.

What distinguishes happy people from the unhappy is their attitude – they have a different way of thinking about things and doing things. They interpret the world in a different way, and go about their lives in a different way.

Taken from http://au.reachout.com/find/articles/what-is-happiness

My friends who seem happy have huge mortgages, family issues and health issues. They have suffered loss and grief. One even talks about feeling isolated from her very elderly mother who is in her 90’s and who lives a very long way away. Yet when I’m around these people, they are always smiling and laughing. They are always cheerful and giving off the vibe that everything is good in the world. In their own way they are happy.

I know a person with absolutely nothing, except a few clothes, a bed to sleep in and the companionship of someone he loves. They don’t have what most households would call “essentials”, like a microwave oven or home beautifiers. They don’t own a car or have much money for extra (like holidays or Playstation games or dining out), but they are truly happy. Happiness radiates from this couple.

But what about me? What makes me happy?

It’s a really hard question to answer honestly. I think I would be truly happy if my worries and fears were taken away from me. That’s a pretty big ask and I look over what I’ve written and can see that my words make out that I’ve never been happy. That isn’t true. Happiness is just something that comes and goes, like the breeze through an open window or a summer shower.

I look back over my life and I believe I was truly happy as a child. I lived with my parents and brother. I’m aware now that my parents struggled financially, but they always took us out and about and although they never said the words, I knew I was loved. I never doubted it for a minute. Back then, I didn’t have to worry about mundane things like paying bills or how I was going to put food on the table. My biggest concern was whether or not the sun would be shining on the weekend, when we planned to go to the beach.

My father told me once that as a family we used to make the best of any situation. He would ensure we laughed … often. He would ensure we never wanted the expensive stuff because we were too exhausted from the active life he gave us to think about anything other than the next outing. Whilst other families were eating big meals in fancy restaurants, we were blackening bread over an open fire and calling it toast. Do you think the kids having that meal in the restaurant remember the meal they ate? No. But my brother and I remember that toast with fondness.

As an adult, happiness is harder to hold on to. But it’s all about the way we look at life, not the possessions we own. Feeling loved and secure has a lot to do with it, but isn’t a guarantee. Being happy is about making the most of the situations we find ourselves in. It’s about our attitude.

I’ve been through some tough times, but I’ve seen some good times too. I guess, in the end, we need the bad to appreciate the good. Happiness is achievable if we really want it. I believe we need to be realistic and be modest in our wants and then we’ll be able to reach out and take happiness in our hands. In my opinion, the key is to find ways to make us smile and laugh on a daily basis.

Have you laughed today? What would make you happy?

What “Hope” Means to Me

Hope is a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life. Hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. Hopefulness is somewhat different from optimism in that hope is an emotional state, whereas optimism is a conclusion reached through a deliberate thought pattern that leads to a positive attitude.

– Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hope

With recent happenings on the homefront, I find my mind is switching rapidly between writing issues and other issues. Yet, I think I need to suppress the writing urge for now and concentrate on the other stuff for a few days because my mind is running in wild circles.

For a reason unknown even to me I typed the word “hope” into a search engine today and the above quote is the first thing I read. This, in turn, got me thinking about what “hope” means to me and I’m going to share that with you.

At first, I thought the quote was entirely wrong but the longer I thought about it the more I realised that the definition is probably right. I’m not a person who wants the world. I’m not interested in new clothes every week; I’ll wear the same old stuff until they full off me (almost). I’m not interested in having wealth; although money does make life easier, I just want enough so that I don’t have to pinch from Paul to pay Peter (if you get my meaning). I’m not interested in being surrounded by expensive material things; almost everything I own is cheap and/or serves a purpose. All I’ve ever really asked for is peace and happiness. If I could have those two things, I’d be happy to not have anything else. Because, honestly, why would I need anything else.

To me, “hope” is not what I can get out of life, but knowing that the future will be brighter in some way. I think all our lives will be poorer without hope. Hope is something that I am trying to give my son at the moment. If he has hope, he’ll get through this terrible time he is enduring. It’s a shame it’s not something that I could purchase for himm because I would if I could – by the truck load!

Hope gives us a reason to get up in the morning and face another day. Without it, our minds turn to terrible, dark thoughts that can lead to nothing good.

What does “hope” mean to you?

What’s the Point…of Anything?

Due to “life” at the moment, I find myself (again) wondering what the meaning of life is all about. Everyone has a different concept and whilst there may be ways to “prove” and/or “disprove” certain theories, I believe no one truly knows the answer.

One person bravely told me that I had chosen to return to a living body and experience the life I am now living. Whenever I think of that statement I cringe. Why would I willingly put myself in the situations I’ve had to endure? Was it being suggested that I found myself sitting on a white cloud one day, looking down at the world, and thinking to myself how great it would be to live a life of constant struggle? Or maybe, wouldn’t it be a great experience to loss a child to suicide? Or, I wonder what it would feel like to be knocked down…over and over and over again?

Aside from the fact that this theory sounds completely stupid to me, what would be the point of chosing a life like this, especially if I didn’t know what I was meant to be learning from the experience. Why would I do that to myself? As I said before, it would be crazy!

I don’t know how we came into being, or what the purpose of us being here is. Maybe there’s not a purpose. I don’t know why some people are handed everything on a silver platter, while other people struggle to make ends meet for their entire life (no matter how hard and long they work). What I do know is that the first part of our life goes on forever and then, in a blink of an eye, the years ahead of us are very few compared to the years behind us. And, the things we accomplished in those years are nothing compared to the dreams we once had.

I sat with my closest friend on the weekend. We were in a public place, surrounded by many people. We sat watching the people go about their business and my friend turned to me and said the exact thing I had been thinking, “we are nothing in this world and if we were to disappear forever, no one would really care”. Of course, that is not entirely true. Some people would care – our parents, our children, our few friends – they would care, but in the scheme of things it isn’t much when a person has only a handful of people who would truly grieve for them.

My mother told me once that she couldn’t afford to give up life. I thought that was a strange thing to say and was shocked at her answer when I asked her what she meant by a statement like that. She told me that she didn’t want the embarrassment of having less than a dozen people at her funeral, so she couldn’t afford to let go until she had lots and lots of friends. That conversation occurred many years ago, my mother is now in her 70’s and her friend list isn’t much different to then. Now I can relate to what she’s saying and, I must admit (as morbid as it sounds), we’ve laughed over the thoughts we have when we think of our own funerals.

But I don’t mean to sound morbid. Maybe it’s the mood I’m in now that another blow has hit me fair in the chest. What can I say? I wish I knew why humans lived, but would knowing change anything – make things better, easier? I don’t think so. Today, my son asked me what the point of anything is. I couldn’t give him an answer, except to say that we should try to look for happiness in whatever we do. It didn’t seem much of an answer and I knew that it didn’t help him in his time of need, but what else could I say. I feel as disillusioned as he does, but as his mother I had to hide that fact and look for something bright in the future.

The sun might warm our bodies, but the brightness it gives off doesn’t always light our way. I believe wondering about life, reasons and purposes is useless in the long term. It doesn’t get us anywhere. It doesn’t give us anything. We would be better off finding a glimmer of hope today so that this afternoon and tomorrow will be worthwhile.