Monday, 29 October 2012
On being content . . .
"This day by God's mercy I am 29 years of age, and in very good health, and like to live and get an estate and if I have a heart to be contented, I think I may reckon myself as happy a man as any in the world, for which God be praised. So to prayers, and to bed."
~Samuel Pepys, February 23, 1662
I love to read quotes like this. These words show a man who is happy and content with the life he is living, and to me that is all that is something which should be at the root of any happy life . . . a heart filled with contentment. No one is happy without thinking they are happy . . . and having a contented heart is where it begins.
I like to think that I have a contented heart . . . but there are always things I can change, which might make me even more content. I tend to be somewhat of a worrier . . . and I need to work on that. Worry never did change a thing . . . but prayer does . . . so perhaps instead of worrying next time I am tempted to do so . . . I should bend my knees instead.
Contented people are those who are able to laugh and who laugh frequently. They laugh at life, they laugh at themselves, they laugh along with others . . . they are able to see the funny side in most things. Children laugh on average more than four hundred times a day. (Don't you just love statistics?) Think about a baby or a toddler . . . it's not hard at all to make one laugh, and it doesn't take much. You can simply pull a funny face at one, or hide your face behind your hands and then pop it out again and they are off and laughing. Joy in simple things . . . looking at life with a humorous attitude. That is the key. It's all in how you see things. You could simply see that adult as someone who is stupidly hiding their face behind their hands trying to trick you into thinking they have disappeared . . . or you could see them as someone who is desperately trying hard to make you smile . . . and then appreciate the effort by smiling in return.
I think kindness is another key to feeling content. My father always told me that being kind never cost a penny, and it is true. It's not hard to be kind and can start simply by a person trying to be more mannerly, and by that I don't just mean saying please and thank you. I mean kindness in showing consideration for others . . . if you are in a queue at the shops and you have a full cart, yet the person behind you has only one or two items . . . what can it hurt to turn around and say, "Do please go first. You have only a few things and I have a full cart." They might look at you a bit surprised, but if you insist, they will break out into a sweet smile and that will make you feel happier too. Try it . . . it works. I promise you.
Kindness means that when you are in slow traffic on the motorway, you let the person who is trying to edge in from the left, make their way into the front of you, with a happy wave . . . it doesn't mean that you grit your teeth and edge ever closer to the car in front of you in a determination to make sure the person on the left doesn't get in. By letting them in, you automatically feel better yourself . . . you won't be that much later to your destination really . . . and you've done a good turn. How bad can that be? or feel?
Kindness is stopping to open a door for someone who is clearly struggling to do so with arms filled . . . it's standing up on the bus to give someone else a seat when they are clearly more in need of it than yourself, it's helping that short person in the shops to read the item they are struggling to reach on the top shelf, it's taking the time to listen . . . even if you have heard the story a million times before and you are in a hurry to move along. Kindness costs nothing . . . and yet means the world.
Criticism, judging others harshly, being finicky . . . they have no place on the shelf of contentment. Sarcasm and pointless negativity likewise . . . how much better to fill your shelf with praise, empathy and silver linings . . . and laughter.
"Whoever is merry and cheerful has always a good reason for so being, namely the very fact that he is so. Nothing can so completely take the place of every other blessing as can this quality, whilst it itself cannot be replaced by anything. A man may be young, handsome, wealthy, and esteemed, if we wish to judge of his happiness, we ask whether he is cheerful."
If you want to feel happy and lighthearted . . . you need to act that way. Laugh out loud, be happy, find the silver lining. Laughter is more than just a pleasurable activity. It boosts immunity, lowers blood pressure, increases tolerance for pain, is a source of social bonding, reduces conflict, cushions social stress within relationships . . . be they at work in marriage or amongst strangers. When people laugh together . . . they tend to talk together and to get along better with each other. I think one of the most exquisite pleasures in life has to be making people laugh . . . and being able to laugh at life and yourself.
Act the way you want to feel, and it soon becomes a habit, and quite natural. Be positive. Be kind. Don't worry . . . be happy. Pray frequently and often. Practice contentment . . . and soon it will be a way of life.
Just my thoughts this morning . . .
My prayers are with those along the Eastern Seaboard of the US as they face this mega storm which is raging it's way up the coast. May you be safe, and warm and dry. I spoke to my mother yesterday afternoon and she said they were not expecting too much in the Valley, and I hope not. She stresses out each time it rains even a bit heavy . . . as her basement is prone to flooding. We all wish she would move to a place where this wouldn't happen . . . but she is a very stubborn woman and I guess in reality the stress of moving house at the age of 80 isn't something any of us would want to experience either.
Not a lot on today, a bit of cooking, a bit more work in the craft room and to get cracking on the illustrations for that children's book are on my agenda. Wherever you are whatever you are doing, I hope your day runs smoothly and well, and that you are . . . content. Don't worry . . . be happy.
“Things work out, it isn't as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out, don't worry. I say that to myself every morning. It will all work out. If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. If we will put our trust in him, if we will pray to him, if we will live worthy of his blessings, he will hear our prayers.”
~Gordon B. Hinckley
Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . best turkey burgers ever . . . Thai Turkey Burgers!