It is hard to stay hopeful when you are worried to death. It requires determined attention and an exquisite combination of focus, concentration and surrender. It is an exercise of discipline and a test of faith.
During a recent gathering, I passed a set of Guatemalan worry dolls around the circle to help us relinquish the nagging apprehensions and insidious anxieties that sap our strength and resolve. All those sneaky, nasty, niggly worries that worm their way into our brains and take up our good time.
Worry dolls are wonderful. There is nothing you can't tell them. Absolutely nothing shocks them, they've heard it all before. And whatever it is that troubles you, they take care of it. Get rid of it. Swallow it. Spirit it away. It is their job, and they are professionals. What a tremendous relief it is to hand over your distress to someone else to deal with.
As the participants took the tiny figures into the palms of their hands, they would allow the flood gates of their heart to open, and let loose a stream of sadness, stress, panic, guilt, worst-case scenarios and catastrophic fears.
When the dolls reached Dora, a woman in her sixties, she calmly declared, "I don't worry. I hope."
Brilliant! Talk about positive reinforcement.
There are those who say that hope is futile, a waste of time, of precious energy. They contend that hope is completely unrealistic. Simply wishful thinking, they insist. And I say, "Yes. It is, and thank goodness!"
Studies show that optimistic people consistently out-perform those who consider themselves to be more realistic, because they place fewer restrictions on themselves. If you don't know that something is impossible, you are more likely able to be able to do it. Things are only impossible until they aren't! "I think I can. I think I can. I think I can."
While we often have little or no control over the situations that affect us, we do have control over our own perceptions of them. We do have the very real and extremely potent power of perspective. And we definitely possess the crucial and vitally influential choice of how we will deal with whatever comes our way. How we will handle ourselves.
In a wide range of happiness studies conducted lately, including several with major lottery winners, it was clearly demonstrated that professional, educational or financial success are not predictors of contentment. Nor are gender, age, race, religion, health or ethnic background.
The key common factors across the board that seem to determine satisfaction, peace of mind, and yes, happiness, are: optimism, self-confidence, self-control, connection to community and living with a sense of spirituality. And, I might add, the desire to be so.
Happiness is fleeting (as is pain). The trick is to court it, to recognize it - even in camouflage - to acknowledge its presence when and where we least expect it, to celebrate each second of the healing heart and soul of it, and to rejoice in our own exhilarating ability to create it for ourselves and others at any given moment, in any circumstance.
"If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands!"
(Edited for space - complements of Donna Henes)
Not a member of the Red Hat Society? There's only one, join the fun! You are invited to join your Red (and Pink) Hat Sisters for an experience of a lifetime, where joy, laughter and the electricity of fun and friendship reign supreme in the city that never sleeps! Let this serve as your official invitation to the Red Hat Society's 2018 International Convention as we Let the Good Times Roll in New Orleans, Louisiana.