I've been feeling a lot of disbelief and anger, lately. Some people say, "It's just politics. I'll stay off of facebook until the election is over," or whatever. But, it isn't just politics. When you're talking about somebody's right to live a happy life, to live with health and the freedom to love the people they love, you're not talking about politics. You're talking about life.
So, I've been feeling exasperated, mad at Christians, mad at men, outraged over women who refuse to demand equal treatment. I've been feeling like I can't believe some people. I've been saying, "What is WRONG with these people?" What is wrong with these people?
What it boils down to is that I'm mad that some people aren't willing to look past their agendas and dogma to understand that other people need help, they need compassion and assistance to live in a way where absence of illness and decay is even somewhat possible. That they need compassion to live in a way where happiness is even an option.
I've been talking a lot about happiness.
What does it mean to be happy, according to me?
It means that you're not afraid to be who and what you are.
You're not sick or worried all the time.
You're not hungry.
You're not existing under a film of depression and hopelessness.
You're don't feel scared of scarcity; you don't cling desperately to whatever you have, refusing to open your heart and share your talents and resources, for fear that if you share, you won't have enough.
You don't feel scared of scarcity in your own heart. You believe you are good enough, capable enough, beautiful enough, just the way you are.
You don't strive for things out of fear.
You don't have to put someone else down to get what you believe you need.
You have friends.
You love people.
You have fun.
You work hard, because you are able to work hard; you don't experience pain or depression or anxiety or illness or panic over providing for yourself and your family that keeps you from working hard.
You see other people, acknowledge them and love them.
You aren't mad all the time.
Happiness doesn't mean that you have whatever you want, whenever you want it. It doesn't mean that you'll somehow magically beat sadness, not suffer set backs or succumb to sickness or death. It doesn't mean that you're perfect, or that you even believe in perfection.
Happiness means that you will die, you are certain of this fact... and that every day of your living, breathing life should be purposeful and full of love and wonder.
So, I've been feeling frustrated with half of the country, with a demand for respect and compassion getting confused with entitlement. I've been feeling disgusted and ashamed. I walk around thinking things like, "How can you honestly believe that people who need help to provide for their families WANT to be that way? That they're singing songs on the way to the assistance office, winking behind their hands because they're taking advantage of people who work for their money?"
Instead of focusing on all the hate and intolerance in the world, and propagating my own against entire institutions of people, I want to focus on this, instead: What about people who work hard for every breath? What about people who are alone in the world, and who don't receive a single expression of kindness, ever? What about people who are abandoned, who are beaten, who are afraid as soon as they open their eyes in the morning? Why am I focusing on people who have enough, and who don't care who they are hurting to hold on to what they have, when I could be doing so much more good, in the world?
I can't pay anybody's mortgage or put food on their table. I can't cure anybody's illness. I can't give up anything I don't have... but something I can do is recognize that I have a lot, just as I am. I can't create a tolerant world, but I can practice active kindness, compassion and love, in my life and give what I have to give, which is a startling amount, if I'm being truthful.
Instead of looking at how much the world is lacking and how I can't solve these huge problems, I can start to look inside of myself, and realize how abundantly capable I am of refusing to live for my disgust and disbelief. I can refuse to live for my anger over the ways people are treated, and simply start treating people better.
I see that people aren't going to change. It's just politics, and all of that. Don't talk about it at the dinner table and everything will be okay. If people aren't going to change, the least I can do is refuse to be mad about it, refuse to let my outrage diminish my own happiness, so that I can pass love and compassion and joy along to the people around me, to my children and husband, to the people I pass in the street and at the grocery store, to my friends and our teachers and the police at the municipal building playground.
I don't have to love your ignorance and greed. I don't have to shake your hand and admire you for believing that some people aren't worthy of happiness. I don't even have to entertain you, spend time with you. I don't have to be a cheesy asshole and like... bake you cookies even though you're wrong and mean and hurting people, but I can choose to acknowledge the you inside of all that hate and love you in the tiny way I'm capable. I can recognize that my feelings about you and your beliefs, my sadness and fear and anger, aren't actually about you. My feelings of outrage and disbelief are actually about the people you are hurting. By focusing on you and your religion and your money and your coldness, I am not doing anything to honor the people you are hurting.
So, here I am, letting it go. That doesn't mean that I'll unfriend anybody until after the election, or that I choose to say, pfft, what an idiot and move on with my day as though none of it bothers me. It doesn't mean that I'll somehow pretend that it doesn't matter to me when I encounter bigotry and unfairness. What I mean is that I'm not going to try to grip my anger and wield it. I'm not going to use up my energy being mad at what I know is wrong. Instead, I'm going to try to live my life better in the name of my anger, to extend more kindnesses, give help when I can, treat people like people, smile and look you in the eyes at the grocery store, because I don't know who is lonely and who could use a moment of kindness like it's air, and all of the air has gone out of the world.
What that also means is that I need to acknowledge that, if somebody is clinging to their money and dogma and double standards and hurting people in the process, it is because they aren't happy, either. Nobody would believe or behave that way if they were living each day of their lives with wonder, love and kindness. Nobody is an asshole, just because.
I can't force anybody to change, but I can change my own behavior. I can turn all of my energy outward and hope to shine brightly in a world that seems like it is dark most of the time. If I can't convince somebody else to be kind, I can plant my feet a little more firmly and try to make up for the lack of kindness in the world by practicing my own with as much bravery as I can muster.
So, there's me not talking politics. And maybe this is even a little bit of an apology to all of the Christians I've hated. Shocking, I know. I am, though. I'm sorry for not seeing the you, inside of you. And I'll try to do better, because doing better is all I've ever wanted you to do.
How are your happiness efforts coming along?