We’ve heard clever explanations of hanging on to a grudge, such as letting someone live rent-free in your head. That’s okay, so far as it goes –
But let’s take it further: do you spend a lot of time thinking and/or talking about the bad hand you’ve been dealt by the Fates? the wrongs you’ve suffered? how unappreciated you are? how you suffer?
We all know people who do. I know several on social media who rarely post anything other than the attention-seeking whining and complaining. It’s boring. And you know, I just don’t see how they can be happy people.
You want to be happy? You want to be at peace?
1. Give your whole life to God, and walk with Him. That’s worthy of a series of posts, right there, because it’s important to understand Who God Is and what He requires of us as we live for Him and reflect His Divine Nature to the rest of the world. But nothin’, and I mean NOTHIN’! is better than that!
2. Forgive the people who have hurt you. Yeah it’l come round to taunt you from time to time. Some times it’s a torment and it might not even be easy to recognize what’s going on. It took me weeks, this winter, to figure out I was still living under the shadow of my parents’ choices. But keep trying!
Forgiveness isn’t forgetting the past or pretending it doesn’t matter (things that hurt you at the core of your being matter a lot). I think of it as letting go of the very human desire to be avenged. To get even. To persuade the person who hurt you to see the hurt and regret it and to make amends. Tha’s out of your hands and you’ll drive yourself batty, obsessing about it. God will rightly judge and hand out penalties in the Judgment (yes, I believe in Purgatory, and it’s a good, healthy place); our job is to release our need to be made right to and to go on living. Yes, 70×7 for the same offenses.
Learn, if you’re still stuck, to get out of being the victim or someone’s emotional punching bag. Or rescuer or one to hide behind. Forgiveness is NOT about letting other people willfully and viciously use and hurt us! Become strong! Learn to value yourself (get counselling if you find this difficult — not for the rest of your life, but for a few weeks/months while you find yourself)
3. Choose to be happy. Count your blessings. Can’t find any? Start a notebook. You got a roof over your head? Clothes on your back? Food in your belly? Start there. Recognize daily beauty — the song of a mockingbird or the flash of blue of a bluebird, or the serene ambling across your yard of a doe and fawn — and make a note of it. Note the brilliant colors you encounter in Nature. Find beauty all around you. Put a pot of flowers on the table (heading into spring, I splurged when I really couldn’t afford it on bunches of tulips from our local grocery store. My spirit needed them more than my body needed the food, and I can’t begin to say how much they lifted my spirits, what pleasure they gave me for a week at a time).
Study other people. Who do you admire and respect? Why? Reach for those qualities in yourself.
Who makes you feel happier for being around them? Why? Emulate them!
Do you have friends? Be grateful for them. Look for ways to be a blessing to them.
Is there someone you know who needs help? Help her. Take the neighbor to the doctor and the grocery store when she’s not able to drive. Pick up an extra bunch of tulips to cheer her up, too — or, this time of year, it’s little pots of miniature roses that are so beautiful.
Cultivate the habit of smiling at people.
Discipline yourself to stop bellyaching over every little thing. Everyone knows your sufferings by now; no need to belabor the point. Now let them see your more cheerful and good-natured side.
Find one thing nice to say to everyone.
Get out of yourself. Yes, take some time to rest and to be quiet and alone. But — bit by bit — “This week I will do this one thing” — get out of the rut. It really won’t take long before you really have found some unexpected peace and joy and have become, very truly, your better self.