Saturday, July 7, 2012

Happy July 7th

     God bless America! This 4th of July I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, the dark side of said bed and it didn't take long for the many cheerful calls of "Happy 4th of July" all around to begin to penetrate my psyche. It is hard to ignore holidays but unfortunately I had forgotten my party pants. I sat and stewed for a bit and then a  life line appeared through the grey of my morning. God,  full of grace,  never giving up on His children whispered to my soul "I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life..." I struggled for a moment because honestly sometimes it feels good to feel bad, a little touch of self righteousness perhaps? But soon I began to contemplate how to truly add personal meaning to this day. I love our country, BBQ, fireworks, and small town parades. I have nothing against the celebration but for some reason this year it felt a little hollow to me. Feeling less festive but still wishing to recognize the day (and not ruin Tim's day)  I listened to Gods whisper and sat to search for meaning.

      I realized the meaning had not come subtly, people had been telling me all morning: HAPPY 4th of July. Well, why not? Why was I choosing to be cranky? I looked over at my even keeled mate and thought to myself  that to celebrate our independance I would choose to be happy all day. Now, for years and years when someone would say happiness is a choice it would just really piss me off. Really? Just like that a magic happiness fairy is going to pixie dust me after I flip the happy switch? Grrr. This 4th of July it was different though. Something had shifted and I knew happiness really is a choice. Not an easy choice and probably a choice we have to make over and over, but after years of practicing thought control techniques and meditation and prayer I knew had a fighting chance. We cannot, of course, help the random thoughts that pop into our heads uninvited but we can choose to not open the door to the thought. This is the "trick" don't let the thought fester. There are many techniques and so worth it to investigate for yourself. Many paths to happiness and we cannot find our paths without knowing ourselves. I know this is old news for many of you having read the power of positive thinking, but I never did. The title annoyed me and I am not a natural optomist. So, here are some practices that helped my slow learning cranky self.

     At the moment a negative thought presented I have used replacement tactics substituting happy thoughts. I have used visualizations, picturing stop signs work well for me. One friend shared she has a little fairy come sweep her mind clean of her negative thoughts, another imagines the siren of the thought police. Maybe you have another technique please share if you do. But no matter, the idea is to relentlessly and repetitively slam the door on the negative thoughts as they present. Don't entertain them , don't let them in the door. And you know it does get easier. Mindfulness is cumulative and it sneaks up on you. Something else that was helpful was that for the last week or so I had been meditating on  "The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not be in want" this scripture has grown in my heart to mean that the exquisite love of the Shepard is returned when we are not "in want". Well, being "in want" is the opposite of being happy. God does prepare His children. So, turning your grey skies blue may not be as easy as flipping a switch but it can be done. Just like most anything of value it is work. But as hard as we work for a dollar or a promotion or a vacation that we think might make us happy isn't it worth it to spend some effort working to be happy? All in all, I can say it was a good day, a happy day even.
Liberty is the right to choose. So, let's choose happy over and over!

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