Happiness? #seeking laughter #seeking silliness #seeking joy

Where does Happiness come from? Some will say first you need clean water, enough to eat,  somewhere safe to sleep. After that, the perception of what it takes to be truly ‘happy’ diverges markedly.

Some think that even more money will do it; others think that finding someone who will love them forever will do it; & some that a particular job, or even any job; owning specific possessions such as a particular car or pair of shoes; or living in a certain place or in a certain type of home will do it. Many equate Happiness with endless pleasure, and a life free from pain or trouble.

All of these things are external. That is, they come from outside a person, they are things to be ‘gotten’ for oneself, or ‘received’ from someone else. They are all contextualised, and each person’s version of which ‘things’ are important depend partly on the life circumstances they are born into, or move into. They are not ‘intrinsic’.

Many times I have heard people say, what matters most is your Health. Yet even Health is contextualised. Did you know for instance that in some countries in the world, access to insulin,  even for children with Type 1 diabetes, is not possible for all? We know that children with a chronic potentially fatal health condition like Type 1 diabetes  in Australia can expect to live a normal life span. However, in some other countries, they may only live 2 years from diagnosis as they cannot access reliable supplies of insulin. It is estimated for example that 12,000 Indian children die each year from untreated Type 1 diabetes. You might like to check out this link from the 100 Campaign, which aims to provide Access to insulin for all children in the world diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes by 2022, 100 years after insulin was first used to successfully treat diabetes in a child.

Once you accept then that even health is contextualised, according to your access to medication, therapy, treatment, food, etc, what is left to pin our Happiness on?

In my life currently there are two amazing women who are both nonagenarians. Both are Happy women. Neither is rich, and never were. Both are widowed. One lives independently at almost 100, the other, who turned 91 on January 10th,  is in a secure dementia ward in a Nursing Home, with serious health issues.

The Happiness of one comes from Love, now being returned to her in many ways by the hundreds of people she has shown love to over her long, long life, and from service to others. She still bakes scones for visitors, like her grandson in law & her great grandson & makes weekly 3 course  roast dinners for her two sons who are in their 70’s. She has an active, full, largely independent life. She can still have a quiet ‘whinge’ about someone or something that annoys her; she can speak sharply to the son who suggests an unwanted wheelchair ride around the park. (She believes wheelchairs are for ‘old people’). She is not really looking forward to the 100th Birthday celebrations in June, but she’ll endure it as long as she doesn’t have to make a speech. She laughs many times a day, at the silliness of others, at appropriate points in conversation.

The Happiness of the other woman comes from having lived a rich life, filled with Adventure, Travel, Art, study, constant change. She endures her physical health problems, sometimes with complaint; is sometimes aware of her failing memory; expresses interest in her visitors and great affection for them. She usually says she is Happy, even when she is anxious, afraid, uncertain, sad, lonely. She says she made the ‘right decision’ in going into Care 3 years ago; and that ‘this is a good place to be’; even though she forgets where she is many times in a day. She says, ‘I want to spend what money I have, no point in leaving it in the bank’, even though she does not have a lot. She advises her children, who are themselves grandparents, to ‘Live life now: do what you want to do, Life is for the Living’.

It seems to me that the only reliable and certain way to Happiness comes from within. In being able to enjoy some silliness in life; to laugh out loud at funny things people say, to enjoy the visit from a 5 year old, even if you forget he came to see you 10 minutes after he’s gone. In being able to stop thinking about ‘getting and spending’, instead to look at the moonrise like my sister and my husband do, & point it out to others; in giving up regret and guilt; in accepting & enjoying the now for what it is rather than wanting something else. That does not mean giving up working to change things for the better. Remember, even my almost 100 yr old woman has a ‘quiet whinge’, & will even write the occasional letter or make a phone call to get something changed.

Another person in my life is feeling very emotional at the moment. She is filled with Joy. Her son is about to be married! Yet, because he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 10, her very normal emotional responses are mixed with the long years of emotion associated with raising a Type 1 child: all the fears and worry that life has brought are back at the surface. She recognises that her overwhelming feeling is one of happiness.

There are other people in my life who have theories about Happiness. One of them is my 12 year old Great Niece. I just got this FB post from her:

“Don’t Think About Fun, Just Have It
– Homer Simpson”

Now this young lady also lives with a chronic disease, not diabetes, but Crohn’s. And because she’s 12, here she is, advocating the first & the second part of my Blogpost- #seeking laughter & #seeking silliness. “Fun” without  preparation, without  forethought, without precautions, just as part of everyday life. Yesterday, our little group of Social Media Counsellors had a little running word gag on our’ closed’ Facebook group. It was a play on the word “oui”, as one of us is now working from France. This ‘silliness’ lasted over a few hours, given the time difference & the nature of FB communication. We all really enjoyed it, & I am smiling thinking about it as I write. It produced laughter. Yet it’s just ‘silliness’.  The ABC summer radio talk show host yesterday morning ran with the topic of ‘What’s the stupidest or silliest thing you’ve ever done?’. There were varied stories in response. Some were of quite difficult occurrences. Yet all the callers were able to laugh at their own deeds.

What makes you laugh? When did you last Laugh Out Loud? What have you done or said lately that was just plain ‘silly’? When was the last time you had ‘fun’ without thinking about it beforehand? What brings you Joy?

One of the keys (or barriers) to Happiness can be self acceptance. Here is a Video from Dr Russ Harris about the difference between self esteem & self acceptance. You may find it interesting, & even useful to try his technique. It shows how being fully engaged, giving full attention to what’s in front of you is what matters. ‘Live by your values, do it mindfully’. High self acceptance & high self compassion are very useful.

Another key (or barrier) can be health related. It can be that certain deficiencies or chemical imbalances can be a factor in mood. These can be detected through testing & consultation, & usually can be remedied simply.

For us, living with diabetes, a major barrier to Happiness can be Burn Out. It’s understandable: chronic stress can be extremely wearing, & there are no holidays from diabetes or any chronic health condition, after the ‘Honeymoon’. LOL

Living mindfully does not mean not looking forward, nor not looking back. There is Joy to be found in past memories, & to be shared with others. Some people capture moments of transient joy in photographs, & share that with others.

Darwin April 2008 008

Moments of silliness can be recalled & enjoyed over again. Planning for something good extends our pleasure, our son’s wedding needs to be planned. Surviving pain such as loss or separation teaches us how to value what we have, what we have lost, & to empathise with others.

Finally, I’m going to leave you with this link to Les’s story, who told some stories about living with diabetes, & shared his philosophy that ‘you gotta laugh’. Les says  “I told this story to a close friend who has been living with Type 1 for most of his life and he laughed himself sick! He told me point blank…’never stop laughing, live every moment as though it is your last!’ So many experienced diabetics all say the same thing.”

Right now it is around 11 pm. I am happy, because in my house are two sleeping grandsons & a sleeping husband. Life does not get much better than this.

Helen Wilde

Helen is a long Term Senior Counsellor with Diabetes Counselling Online, Teacher, Mother of a Type 1 diabetic for 35 years, & a type 1 diabetic herself for 13 years.

Helen Wilde

Helen is a long term Senior Counsellor with Diabetes Counselling Online, Teacher, Mother of a Type 1 diabetic for 34 years and a type 2 diabetic herself for 12 years.

– See more at: https://www.diabetescantstopme.com/diabetes-and-depression/giving-thanks-a-resolution-for-life-not-just-for-christmas/#sthash.UrFDOqMp.dpuf

Helen Wilde

Helen is a long term Senior Counsellor with Diabetes Counselling Online, Teacher, Mother of a Type 1 diabetic for 34 years and a type 2 diabetic herself for 12 years.

– See more at: https://www.diabetescantstopme.com/diabetes-and-depression/giving-thanks-a-resolution-for-life-not-just-for-christmas/#sthash.UrFDOqMp.dpuf

I told the story to a close friend of mine who has been a Type 1 most of his life and he laughed himself sick! He told me point blank…never stop laughing, live every moment like it is your last! So many experienced diabetics all say the same thing. – See more at: https://www.diabetescantstopme.com/stories/laughter-will-get-you-through/#sthash.N4NtKKBB.dpuf
I told the story to a close friend of mine who has been a Type 1 most of his life and he laughed himself sick! He told me point blank…never stop laughing, live every moment like it is your last! So many experienced diabetics all say the same thing. – See more at: https://www.diabetescantstopme.com/stories/laughter-will-get-you-through/#sthash.N4NtKKBB.dpufI told the story to a close friend of mine who has been a Type 1 most of his life & who
I told the story to a close friend of mine who has been a Type 1 most of his life and he laughed himself sick! He told me point blank…never stop laughing, live every moment like it is your last! So many experienced diabetics all say the same thing. – See more at: https://www.diabetescantstopme.com/stories/laughter-will-get-you-through/#sthash.N4NtKKBB.dpuf

2 Comments

  1. Bridgett on January 11, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    This is amazing and so thought provoking! I have spent long years in search of that deep happiness feeling, and have finally found it. I can’t put my finger on exactly when it set in, or why (well, maybe why, because it was due to a single event in my life, but it didn’t hit as immediately as you’d think). All I do know is that the years of self-doubt, of always giving more to others than what I got back, because I thought that’s how you invited happiness into your life… all of it has disappeared and I now know the feeling of being able to sit, enjoy, be present and not worry. It’s given me the ability to give more, because I feel like I NEED less. That’s priceless and I wish everyone could find it.

    • helwild on January 11, 2014 at 7:55 pm

      Hello Bridgett. Thank you so much for your kind words.
      It makes me glad to hear that you have been able to access Happiness within yourself, within your own life, within the present moment. That is how I feel too. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel negative emotions, just that the steady beat of Happiness is there underneath stress, worry, sadness, anger; and that I can deal with those states of being. Yes, I too wish that for everyone.
      Regards
      Helen

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