Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thursday Thinking - Happiness is . . . Gutting Fish

"Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be." - Abraham Lincoln

I think this is an interesting statement coming from a man who struggled with melancholy and had many hard and depressing things happen in his life. Few can argue, however, that despite those things we think of Abe Lincoln as a happy man.

This week the subject of being happy came up three times: once in a scrapbook lay-out, once with a friend, and once in an e-mail.

In a scrapbook lay-out: I have been part of a circle-journal group three times. We each make a journal that covers a specific topic and create a scrapbook lay-out to begin the entries. Then we pass that journal to another member of the group who adds her lay-out to our topic. She passes it to the next person and so on  until it has completed the circle and comes back to the owner. One of the circle journal topics this year was “My Favorite Things.” I had a half-hour to quickly think about and create a lay-out on things that make me happy.  I didn't have time to argue with myself and I didn't have time to ponder.  I had to go with a gut-reaction.  Here is what I compiled:

With a friend: My friend brought me a two-layer chocolate cake and a bouquet of flowers from her yard. We walked out to our garden (sprinkled generously with weeds) then sat in the sunshine/shade and visited for an hour or more. The topic of being happy was central to the conversation. I mentioned at some point to my happy-by-nature friend that I remembered watching happy people as a teenager and wanting to build that characteristic. It was something for which I specifically prayed, “Please help me to be a happy person.” The Lord answered those prayers.

She mentioned that sometimes happy looks fake; we also discussed chemical depression vs. being happy. We didn’t have all the answers, but one thing I know is that everyone wants to be happy, albeit we look for happiness in different ways and in different places (and some of those places never deliver).

In an e-mail: The next day I read an e-mail from my niece Jesse. Jesse is on a boat in a bay in Alaska working 12+ hours a day/7 days a week sorting and gutting fish. She is earning money for another year of college. She knew she needed a job with lots of hours so she took this one even though she didn’t know anyone or anything about fish. She doesn’t have regular internet or phone access while she’s in Alaska for the summer. Jesse is 18 years old. She is quick to smile and fast to laugh. Nevertheless, Jesse is not in an easy place. This is what Jesse wrote about being happy this week:

Dear Family,

My goal this week is to find little things to enjoy in life. I noticed that I find myself counting down the hours until my shift gets off. But, it's dumb because once you get off you eat, then go to bed, to repeat it all over.

So this was the list I came up with on why I like my job/day.

1. My dinner was all yellow.

2. Anyone can fart as loud or as deadly as they wish. Nobody will hear or smell it in the factory (proven fact).

3. I will become a champion in water fights, because I don't even flinch when getting sprayed with water/blood in the face anymore.

I've been super busy and tired... and sore. I'm bruised from head to toe. And that's no lie. I still have a scar on my forehead and my toes are covered in blisters. Ha. Last week I was able to pull 95 hours tho! And in those 95 hours I have discovered the trick of falling asleep standing.

I feel like this boat is a reality tv show (that I would never care to watch), and I keep waiting for my interview. I got things to say.

But I'm happy and things are going good. I can tell I've been super blessed on this trip. I’ve been able to like everyone on the boat and everyone has been so good to me, and I haven't gotten sick at all.

Well my nose runs the whole time down in the factory (it's sooo cold down there) and you’re all decked out in slimy rubber so there is nothing to rub it on. So it just drips. But everybody's in the same boat so it's a natural sight (Ha! I didn't catch that pun the first time around.)

Okay, again much love,


I taught Mo how to tell the fish apart, and after I was done he looks at me and goes, "We have to remember all that . . . for 8 bucks an hour?" Ha! Yeeep.

In summary, being happy is something that’s been on my mind this week.  Once again I've determined that the key to being happy is being grateful (funny how 1+1 always = 2 no matter how many times you try to re-think it). I can’t be grateful and wallow in self-pity at the same time, nor can I simultaneously be grateful and covet. I can’t ever find happiness in wickedness and when I'm grateful the last thing I want to be is wicked. The only thing I can be when I am grateful is happy.  And if I'm in an over-sized sweater eating mashed potatoes and gravy, smelling lilacs, and hearing the grandkids laugh then it's even better. 


Cali said...

Did you know I LOVE your bogs. It makes me so excited when I see one posted.

Becky said...

One of my favorite posts ever! Bet you can't guess why :-)

My two favorite scriptures sum up the why and how of "happy" for me:
2 Nephi 2:25 and Philippians 4:13

And Jane your posts almost always maker happy--thank you for your example of gratitude and being content and enjoying life.

Becky said...

*make me*
That's what I get for writing comments on my phone...

Ande said...

I loved this post. I loved reading your "happy" things. You've always been a good example on being happy.

Jill said...

It's fun to see your favorites list. I love the smell of lilacs, I adore mashed potatoes and gravy, I love a warm shower AND a nap, and I definitely consider the computer a past time. We're kindred souls!