THANKS FOR NOTHING MONTH January 26, 2012 7:20 AM
65 F indoors 37 F outdoors
Rain, rain, rain
TODAY’S HAPPINESS FACTOR: 8 out of 10
Meaningful work…Annie mucking out stalls and Jay, the breakfast chef 2012
January has been a time of reminding me that life cannot feel secure unless those around us are safe as well. Safety comes in many forms – healthy food, affordable health care, adequate energy for heating, a safe place to live, and meaningful work at a living wage. I would also add good friends and strong relationships with others.
A huge part of being happy in life is rooted in our personal values and a sense of security. And values and a sense of security are rooted in feeling free to make decisions. It seems like we use the excuse that we don’t have time to do anything else, when it really amounts to the fact that we don’t know “how” to make more meaningful decisions about how we use our time.
Turning off the TV or the computer at a regular time and giving the gift of time for reading, playing games, or just sitting around the table talking is a big step towards a higher HAPPINESS FACTOR. This is such a simple thing to do; yet we hesitate because technology is an easy way to spend our energy. Creating a quieter environment actually takes less energy, and, as we’ve found this month, gives back energy.
Another idea is to step out into society to volunteer, or just fill in when needed. It often feels like we have so little control over what happens in our world, but volunteering to help others (and not just at Christmas) is a terrific way to replace consuming habits, and fill up that space with a sense of being worthwhile…an exchange of something besides money for making the community around us safer in every way.
My freedom to choose is so much more then just a bumper sticker. This month has made it clear to me that I can choose to step away from the world for a period of time so that I can decide what is important to me at a deeper level, or I can learn new skills or even new things about myself. I am more determined then ever to fight for my right to have this kind of freedom from technology, from consuming, from commercialism or the opinions of others.
This month, as I’ve thought more about what it takes to be content, I can see that a big part of my HAPPINESS FACTOR came from working for the rights of other abused women, and by going to places I’d been told to never go, or that I’d never be welcomed into. Prisons, halls of great power in far off places, on trains across foreign unfriendly lands, and finally building a house out of trash.
My journey from those experiences, and now from taking time this month to be on vacation from the world, only led me back to the place my grandparents had shown me – a simple life. At this point there is just no going back to the old me, or the one that my culture demanded. Even though I know this, I need to be reminded that there are ways to live my life without consuming, without shopping, without wasting things and taking away from the future. After all I am an American, filled with her ideals and dictates.
Please don’t think I have all of the answers. I’m trying to find my way, the same as lots of folks. But I do want to find and hang on to the energy that is at the heart of feeling secure, and free to be a happy human being. The ultimate foundation for living a life rooted in THE HAPPINESS FACTOR.