Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Making the Worst of It

Making the Worst of It

One of the wonderful things that has changed since I decided to be happy is that I look for solutions instead of worrying my problems.

One of the things that is so fun about finding solutions is that it’s all about being creative, and that’s more fun than a crate of happy puppies.

One of the things that is so fun about being creative is that I make the rules. I can dream up anything, it doesn’t have to be possible, or real, or legal, it’s just made up.

How do I know I am creative? Why do I find solutions? What makes me choose?

In the olden days, I would get stuck in my own little pile of ick.I would poke around in it,rehearsing how icky it was. I would worry about whether it was going to get ickier. I would beat me up about getting stuck in the first place, I would get scared about what all that ick was going to do to me, I would get angry at me and say awful things about how I must deserve ick if that’s what I had.

All that energy I was using to support my ick sapped my motivation to do anything else. All that worrying got me so anxious I couldn’t sleep well, my digestion would get dicey, I would catch stuff like colds, and tended to spend my time mostly alone, or, if it was with people, I would complain with like-minded folks who were sitting in their own pile of ick.

One of the features of wallowing in my own mire is that I cannot be present and wallow. Huh. I wallow in a negative, nasty past, or I wallow in a mirky and stinky future. Generally speaking, the present moment is mostly kind of neutral.

One of the things that I love about coming up with solutions is that solutions are goals. We often need to make a plan, and carry it out, and achieve it. I love goals. It’s something to look forward to, a good reason to get out of bed and get moving. I love goals because keeping my goal, that thing I want, in mind, helps me stay focused so I spend less time frittering my hours away. I get things done.

The same way that we have to practice happiness, we have to practice misery. We have to choose it over and over. Many of us choose it to the point of depression. By deciding to exercise our creativity, we can start to come up with ways to unchoose misery. We can come up with creative ways to banish negative thoughts, we can come up with hobbies, that is, non-work occupations we can feel passionate about. Surfing the Internet, for example, is not a hobby. Nor is housework. or TV. Collecting, exploring, making stuff, learning a language or to play an instrument; these are hobbies.

By choosing to exercise my creativity for good, for my good and the good of my communities, I am expanding my life a bit. I am engaging a bit more. I am deepening my connections. When I choose to come up with solutions, I become more interested in other stuff, less self-obsessed. When I choose to play with new hobbies, I refresh my spirit. When I choose to create goals for myself, I feel energized and enthusiastic. Using my creativity like this makes it one of my super powers to be used for good. And that makes me feel happy.

How have I changed from creating misery for myself to creating the life I want to live?

© Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 11192014

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Sad Cowboy

The Sad Cowboy

Team player is a concept a lot of us have a hard time with. We have a lot of strong feelings about the phrase.

Some of us say that we aren’t team players; we are not joiners. We tend to introversion, preferring to work alone, play alone, and often live alone. How could I be a team player when I am a lone wolf?

Some of us say that we aren’t team players; we don’t support the mission or vision of the team.

Why would I be a team player? How do I play well with others? What makes me get along?

One of the features of being a person is that we live in communities. Some are sort of thrust upon us, like the city or town we live in, then the neighborhood we choose to live in, our families, our places of employment, the places where we hang out, so to speak, like church, or coffee shops, or gyms.

Now, I tend to think of myself as a bit of a non-conformist. I tend to think that I don’t much go along with the crowd. That’s true for many aspects of my life, but it does not serve me at work, for example.

I used to buck the system at my jobs. I didn’t feel any affinity for the overarching vision/mission statement we had, so I felt like an outsider. That’s kind of a crummy way to feel when you spend eight or more hours a day someplace. I tended to feel like I was better-than because I wasn’t being compliant, but I was also miserable, made trouble for myself, and had a pretty negative impact on my co-workers. I never felt supported and totally blamed them.

Why can I choose? How can I cooperate? What makes me feel like a contribution?

When I started to choose to be happy, I came up with my own mission statements, to support my co-workers, my friends, my family, and other communities. I changed my mindset to allow for them supporting me back. I made allowances for them, and began to accept the allowances they made for me.

I came to see that working with people for common goals isn’t being a sheep. Following the rules in the places I choose to be isn’t being a mindless drone.

It’s kind of like using good etiquette. We don’t chew with our mouths closed because some random authority figure told us to, we chew with our mouths closed so we aren’t blowing chunks of chewed food onto our plate, or your plate, or on you. Gross.

Etiquette, simple manners, make getting along easier. I like easy. Pretty much following the rules at work and in my other communities makes getting along easier.

When I am part of a community, and am feeling out of step, I need to take a look. Is it someplace I really want to be? If not, then I need to leave. If so, then maybe I need to look at how I am cooperating within the structures of the community. Am I bucking the system? Am I playing non-conformist cowboy? Do I need to relax out of my defiance?

How have I changed from being a sad lone wolf to enjoying cooperation?

© Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 11172014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Feel so ALIVE!!!!

I Feel so ALIVE!!!!

So here’s a curious little thing you might not know about me, cuz it seems like I tell you everything. This summer I was a couple hours away from death by colon cancer and surgery saved me.

That’s kind of a dramatic thing, and if you know me, and I think you do, you know I don’t much go in for drama. In the olden days, I loved drama. I thought it was exciting. I liked getting attention, even though it was mostly negative attention. I was such an adrenaline junkie, always looking for something to get cranked up about. I thought I felt alive, but mostly what I felt was jangled.

What I do like is feeling alive. For me, that means feeling present in my natural life; engaged, fresh, aware, joyful, contented, surfing the flow of life. Oh, yeah!

What a lot of us do is avoid feeling alive. We go to miserable. We go to worry. We go to stress. We say things like, “I can’t, I always, that’s just the way I am.” We feel hollow and wonder what is missing, so we have another whatever we go to for that kind of comfort, a drink, a toke, a candy bar, sex, TV; we each have our favorite go-tos.

Why am I alive? How do I feel vibrant? What makes me relish my existence?

Until we decide that we want to feel our aliveness, we pretty much won’t. Sometimes we may get a taste of it when we have great sex, or enjoy some other high-energy activity that gets our blood moving, but unlike choosing aliveness, this sort of thing fades pretty quickly.

When I choose aliveness, I choose to open to what life will bring me. I become aware of the myriad opportunities around me for so much. On my way into work this morning, I started thinking about all the people I love, all the people I like, and how much I get back from them. Next thing I knew, I felt loved by the world, the environment I was driving through, the cosmos. Pretty trippy for a normal commute, but not untypical for me these days.

When I choose aliveness, it is challenging for me to be disappointed. Things are perfect in this moment. I appreciate this moment. I open my heart to the possibilities of the moment.

When I choose aliveness, it is challenging for me to be scared or angry or full of grief. These are feelings out of the present time for the most part, imagining bad stuff about the future, or dwelling on stuff from the past. Sometimes we have to go there to clean up our emotional responses, to work through an old issue, but just going there to hang out keeps us from living in the present.

I think there is a difference between living in the moment, and living for the moment. When I am present, in the moment, I am aware of my choices. I am aware of their consequences, I am aware of my goals. I may not have them at the front of my mind, but they are close. When I am living for the moment, I am usually ignoring my choices, ignoring their consequences, and ignoring my goals. I am frequently disrespectful of myself, and of you. It might be fun at the time, but I rarely love the payback.

Why would I choose alive? How does aliveness support me? How do I feel when I feel alive?

How have I changed from feeling numb or worse to enjoying feeling alive?

© Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 11132014

Monday, November 03, 2014

I’ll Tell You What I Want, What I Really, Really Want

I’ll Tell You What I Want, What I Really, Really Want

This topic has been showing up a lot around me lately, always a good cue to do a little writing. The card is one of my favorites, Why can I choose?

This act, the act of choice, is what makes the difference between a sucky life and a happy life.

I have been seeing articles claiming that positive thinking is bad. Seriously. That happiness is overrated. These articles seem to promote sour grapes, and they both have very interesting, and erroneous takes on both positivity and happiness.

Why can I choose? Why I can choose to be miserable, why I can choose to feel good?

Positive thinking is not daydreaming about the future. It is not pretending things are other than they are. It is not living in Cloud Cuckoo Land. Positive thinking is the difference between “I can’t” and “I can.” Positive thinking is relaxed. Positive thinking flows from gratitude and appreciation.

Happiness is not pie-in-the-sky thinking based on outside stuff, but rather it is connecting with our perfect selves deep inside and finding the peace and joy that are already there.

If I am miserable, I am not present, I am not aware, I am in my head thinking, “Things should be different,” but often not having any idea what different would even look like.

And there, as the saying goes, is the rub.

Dissatisfaction is often best friends with “I don’t know,” as in, “What would make me feel better?” “I don’t know.” “What would be more satisfying?” “I don’t know.” And so on.

That little phrase, I don’t know, is a killer. Thing is, we do know. Thing is, we have to take the time, care enough about our well being, to go looking for the answers. They are all there, inside us.

What do I want? What makes me feel good? How do I know what I desire? Why can I choose? Why do I choose?

In making the transition from miserable to happy, I had to choose a lot. I had to do a lot of soul searching. I had to make some challenging, life changing decisions. I chose to leave my entire community not once, but twice. I chose to change my life style. I had to choose to act, to impose some discipline on my life. These were not easy to do, but they were simple, and the impact they had on how I felt and how I behaved with my loved ones was huge.

I need to spend time thinking about what would make me feel better. As I am going through chemo, there are days when I am having a lot of distracting sensation. I have days when I am really tired. At the same time, I don’t have days when I can find nothing to appreciate, to be grateful for. Since this whole shebang started, I’ve had two bad days. That is by choice, and by action. One of the questions I ask on those days is “How do I feel good?” Then I inventory the parts of my body that feel fine. Why am I responsible for how I feel? How do I take responsibility for me? What makes me accountable?

By owning that I choose this or that, I give myself the power to change those choices to ones that support me. And when I am taking care of me, I am a better friend to you, too.

How have I changed from denying my choice to choosing to act on what I want?

© Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 11/03/2014