I was recently asked if I was for real. At first I didn’t know what the question meant. Flesh? Blood? And thought, just to be cheeky, “Nope, I am the best fucking hologram you’ve ever seen. I’m just missing the tell-tale H.” Then I realized it was a matter of my personality, my happiness, my positivity that was being questioned. How do I do it? The world is so wretched and filled with inequity, cruelty, horror. There’s hardly reason to be so blithe. I beg to differ, from the depths of my being, with all I’ve got. I do. I do. I do.
So, much like Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I’ve been counting the ways and whys, my modus operandi to happy.
1. Dance – Every single day. Around the house and yard. In the produce section. Naked, after a bath, laughing at the jiggly bits. In the car, radio at full volume. With a child, your sweetheart, best friend, a cat, ferret, or bunny. On tip toe. Do it, and be glad!
2. Be grateful. For every morning. I get to do it again! For every kindness and breath. For love. For friends. For hugs. For dust motes swirling in slanting beams of light. For bold type on crisp paper. For the truth (it is out there!). For lies. For barking dogs. For music. For food, water, and whiskey, a cup of steaming tea. For faded photographs and crystal clear memories.
3. Love your body. Love its failings, the throbbing temples, squinting eyes, fat thighs and bottom, the ache of neck and back. Love its beauty, the silken hair, the soft lips, the arced brows, the rosy, freckled cheeks. Love its strengths, to hold a soul, a pencil, a thought on the tip of the tongue.
4. Make friends with pain, of war, smashed fingers, murderous rampages, heartache, cruelty, never-ending endometriosis and ovaries that have failed. Treat it with affection and reverence.
5. Acknowledge feelings. Kindly sit with them. All of them, in still patience, no need for gestures or words. Let them BE – fiery, heavy, soft, and sweet, then watch them fly.
6. Be yourself. Do what you like and love. Examine, write, curse, ride, race, guffaw!
7. Listen. To others (wholeheartedly). To birds. To children. To Thom, Ella, or Jim belting out a song. To the rush of the earth spinning.
8. Look up and out. Flowers, insects, a universe await your wide and wondrous eyes.
9. Be kind and generous, to creatures great and small. Extend a hand. Say hello. Compliment.
10. Laugh. At farts, dumb jokes, and old-fashioned silliness. Most especially at yourself, when times are rough and good and grand.
11. Let go of all you don’t truly need. Treasures, knickknacks, humiliation, the unkind, the selfish, the drama queens. Send them away with love, if you can.
12. Surround yourself with happy. Books, movies, people, and thoughts. Happiness, everywhere happiness, and so it will be!