Tuesday, December 10, 2019

How I discovered Happiness

It may seem crazy, but I did not discover happiness until very recently.

I am wearing a deep blue button down shirt and a silver and black patterned tie.
William Elliott
There were occasion when I thought that I was happy, but in the moment that I had that very thought, the feeling fled to hide like a frightened rabbit being hunted by a pack of dogs.

Happiness was not a lasting satisfying feeling for me. In many ways happiness came with a dread fear of pain for most of my life.

I grew up in North-West England, not far from the city of Chester close to the border between England and Wales. My father was Welsh, but died just a few weeks after my seventh birthday.

I was brought up by my mother and my maternal grandparents. For many years I was bullied at school and spent much of my spare time running errands for the "Navvies" and brick laying gangs who worked on the large building sites around my hometown in the late 1960's and early 1970's.

I didn't have many friends of my own age. One person, Chris said he was a friend, but I remember on a couple of occasions going to his house, we were born on the same day and met on our first day at school, he would kick a football at my head and if I dared to duck would then punch and kick me in the face and body.

Of course today I see, Chris was a bully. One day when I was about eleven years of age. I just decided to open the gate and leave Chris to find someone else to  use as a punchbag or football. That made me bitter at the idea of friendship. Something that made me sad.

Today, I can look back on my choosing to walk through that gate as a life lesson. Though it took me about forty more years to learn the lesson.

Life happiness is about personal choice.

Life is not fair, in fact life does not care about me at all. Whether I was born or not. Whether I continue to live or not. Living is not about being happy or sad, being healthy or sick. Life is just about living and it is my own personal choice that makes me happy or not.

We make our own happiness by the way we choose to react to all those carrots and stones life throws at us.

It was about ten years ago. I was married and I had moved from the United Kingdom with my wife of two years. I found myself going blind. I was terrified and angry. There was no escape from the reality that going blind would change my life. It would change both of our lives.

My wife felt compelled to be strong for me. I felt compelled to put on a brave face for her.

In the ensuing few months as my eyesight improved and failed over and over again. We were both under a lot of stress. It was then I said to myself everyday. "

"This is as good as it gets."

 Every day I would get up and blink, some days I could see the picture on the wall, other days I could only see the blur of a wall. But "This is as good as it gets." Got me through.

I began choosing to make challenges to myself. Walk around the neighborhood. Walk to work. Ride the bus alone. My confidence slowly came back.

With that confidence came happiness. I began to notice the lows getting less low. As my confidence rose I could see more possibilities and more challenges. As I tried to overcome each challenge, I might succeed, then ok add a new challenge to the list. If I failed a challenge then I could feel low. I even accepted that I did feel low. Accepting the lows meant that I moved on faster. A slump of a month or more became a slump of a week or two. Then the more I accepted that bad things happened, the more confident I became that the bad times would pass and the more I accepted the bad with the good the happier I became.

Now though I cannot see very much more than a shadow. I am content. I do sometimes feel frustration with my situation but I accept frustration. I let it flow through me. I might even snarl in anger now and then. But I am much happier today because I accept that bad things happen.

Bad things have happened to me. Bad things have happened to you, I know. Things so awful that I cannot imagine, I guess. Accept. You do not need to try and forget, you just need to accept your self, your pain and your anger. Then you too can begin to find peace within your self and the gem of happiness which I have found in my life, will be yours.

William sits in the garden wearing a grey and blue checkered shirt and dark blue trousers. Leif a male black labrador guide dog sits between William's knees.
William and his Guide Dog Leif

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Monday, December 9, 2019

Christmas is coming

A Yellow Labrador retriever puppy looks into the camera.
Yello Labrador Puppy
So it is now mid December and Christmas is coming. My semester at college is almost over. In fact this week sees the Final Exam of my "Introduction to Aging" class.