Sunday, February 24, 2008

Shiny Happy People

For a long time, I've thought of happiness much like the song in the title. Not something that serious, intellectual people practiced. Contentment, yes. Even joy. But happiness, no. So shallow and superficial.

Maybe it's all just semantics though. How do I define happiness for me? Do I define myself as a happy person? Or do I choose to define myself by the challenges and struggles I face in life?

In the book I'm reading, the author noticed that his Stress Recovery group always began negatively. Each person took turns reporting the stress they had the past week. Those with the most drama were held in higher esteem as they got more attention and more time to talk. One day he decided to mix things up. He challenged the group to share with each individual in the room, one different thing that gave them happiness in the past week. Immediately people had objections. "That would be about twenty different things!" one woman panicked. However he persisted and people in the group rose to the challenge.

It made a world of difference to the group dynamic. Instead of defining themselves by their stress, members started defining themselves by what gave them joy. Things they were grateful for. What made them happy.

Recognizing an opportunity to make yet another list, I got out a piece of paper while my students were taking their grammar tests Friday. Not sure if I could do twenty, I numbered my paper to ten. Surely I could squeeze out ten. After starting such a daunting task, not only did I get ten but easily got twenty and thensome! I hesitate posting my list because it seems like bragging but why is being happy something to be ashamed of? So here goes:

One caveat: these things did not cause me to be happy. One of the truths I've learned is that nothing can make me happy or unhappy. "Circumstances and situations do colour life, but you have been given the mind to choose what the colour shall be." This is where those "rose-coloured glasses" come in handy, eh?

Without further ado, here's my week!
1) Paid holiday- the first celebration of Ontario's Family Day!
2) Relaxing at a Korean spa (jimjilbang)
3) Enjoyed watching "Rent," "Tales of the City" and "Noah's Arc."
4) Had great avocado and sushi roll at a great new Korean restaurant (Soban) on Yonge/Gloucester.
5) Great workout at the gym Tuesday followed by a tai chi class
6) dinner with coworker and AT Thursday night in Koreatown.
7) Sunny days plural!
8) Found my brother on Facebook!
9) chatted on gmail with my cousin. laughed a lot.
10) coffee Sunday with friend Mark at Java Jive
11) Reading three Sandman novels.
12) Great nap Tuesday after work!
13) my BF taking care of me while I was sick.
14) very affirming student evaluation comments
15) great time with friends at Madonnarama at fly
16) no credit card balance this month for the first time in a long time!
17) (homemade) Christmas card from dear university friend with cute pictures of her kids.
18) A free ticket to "And Furthermore They Bite!" at the Toronto Symphony with my friend and her delightful four-year old.
19) getting salmon bibimap for dinner at home!
20) watching a video clip in church today of my minister receiving the Order of Canada and singing "O Canada!" afterwards. Especially the bit about "glorious and free."

1 comment:

Jolie said...

Yay! I made the list. I love chatting with you. It's so much fun! You had a great week even with sickness in the middle.

Maybe this would be an exercise to do once a month?