And we are right to do so I believe, because indeed we do learn some things on this journey and it is nice to help others avoid the pitfalls we’ve encountered. There are easier ways to get from A to B than through a brick wall sometimes.
But there are limitations.
While we are very much alike as humans when compared to say a giraffe, we are compared to each other very different. I like brussel sprouts and you hate them. I like Coke and you prefer Pepsi. You like to skateboard and I like to swim. When it comes to things we love and loathe, the problems become more acute. It will take someone who hates running a lot more patience and fortitude to incorporate running into their daily regime than it will someone who is merely indifferent to the sport.
Yet self-help books depend on your thinking that we are all pretty much alike. And they sell for that reason. At any given moment there are probably five hundred books on how to lose weight available to you. Maybe more. Ever ask yourself why? Certainly it’s because not a one works for everyone. In fact not a one works for more than maybe ten percent of all those that try it.
Because we are too too different. And even when they seem to work, they usually don’t work for long. The statistics are rather clear. Mostly people don’t lose weight no matter what plan they try and most regain and then some eventually.
Each book works for those small numbers of people who have the basically same idiosyncrasies that make them “like” the author. If you share enough of them with the book’s author, it will work for you, but only if.
Anytime you find a site like this one that purports to tell you “how to live a good and happy life” all kinds of red flags should go up. There is a list of “ifs” that qualify whether it will be helpful to you.
I say this in order that you realize that if you should say, “hey Sherry, I tried all your suggestions and I gave them a fair shot, and I’m still not happy. I don’t feel fulfilled at all. I guess I’m just a loser once again. I give up. I’m just a miserable person.” If you say that, or think that, STOP. You are nothing of the sort.
And here’s why.
- Except for a few yogis and gurus, most people are not happy all the time. Some do better than others, and I hope to help others do better. If you can be happy 62% of the time where you were only happy 48% of the time, that’s a great thing isn’t it? I’m not happy all the time. I’ve become vastly more happy in the last year or so and so I figure how that happened might help a few.
- While I have attempted to explore the areas where I think people should invest their time, i.e., spiritual pursuits, creative pursuits, etc., the proportion in which you do so is very personal. Some people spend the better part of every day in creative pursuits, and they need little else. Others spend equal parts, or emphasize three more than the rest. It depends on what works for you.
- To a degree, this is a try and try again situation. When one thing fails, you have not failed, it has failed to give you what you wish. You may have to try a dozen things before you find the right it. Even if you think it’s a good thing to run for instance, you may never be able to successfully incorporate it in your life.
- What works today may fail you utterly next year. Our lives are full of contradictions and changes. You may love to read and find it utterly fulfilling normally, but a turn of events in your life may make it a trial and a torture for some months or longer even. Let be what doesn’t work. You will come back to it if and when you feel the urge.
- The more drastic the changes you try to make, the harder it will be and the more likely it will fail. Small changes and few changes work best. Once they are fully a part of your life and comfortable, then move on to add others. Unless of course you are noted for perseverance and will power and enjoy exercising them.
- There is no right or wrong here, as regards most things. If you can’t lose weight no matter what you do for instance, than lower your sights to trying to eat more healthy foods most of the day. If doctors tell you that you must exercise one hour a day and stop eating fried foods, then rather than fail utterly, succeed a little. Exercise for ten minutes and don’t eat fried foods three days a week. (NOTE: IF YOU DOCTOR SAYS YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT, THEN YOU MUST SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP)
- There is no ultimate perfect life to work toward. Each utopian dream always ignores the obvious. You still have stomach aches, you still have to shave your legs, you are still growing older with all its attendant “issues.” The life you have at this moment is your life. Sure you can improve it, but look for what is good in it now and enjoy that. Life is short. You don’t get do-overs.
- Try to understand that all life is process. It ends up being all about how you went about life rather than where you end up, with whom and with what. As you slog through whatever “shoulds” greet your day, try to enter the process, become present to this moment and stop obsessing about what has happened and what may happen. Life now.
- Developing gratitude for what you have helps to keep everything in perspective. Meeting someone your own age who has almost nothing tends to remind you rather strongly of this. People who define themselves as “happy” almost always can give you an impromptu list of all the things they are grateful for in their lives. Hint: it’s seldom things.
- If you are alive, you are living successfully. I know that sounds weird, but frankly, people do give up and die. They do it every day, deliberately, either by aggressive means or passively. What you are trying for is to be “more” successful. So operate from the position that the glass is more than half full already. You’re hoping to add to it, but even if you don’t, you’re okay.
Most of all, just know that not a one of us has a manual to happiness and success in life. We are all muddling through. We are all on this spinning ball, hurtling through space to a future that is unknowable to all of us. We may believe all sorts of things. Not one of us knows the end or if there is one.
That means that we share the most important thing of all–the unknowable future. We approach it with no small amount of fear or trepidation. The least we can do is to hold on to each other and help one another. In doing so, we make it easier and more enjoyable for ourselves as well as each other.
Peace and happiness to you this day.
- Achieving Happiness (michelleckim.wordpress.com)
- 11 things it took me 42 years to learn (hollywoodlog.typepad.com)
- Immeasurable happiness (margotcairnes.org)
- Does Self-help Really Work? (robertringer.com)