Photo: Dancing in the Rain, courtesy of Photo Bucket
Someone once told me they were leery of overly happy people because they must be hiding something. I think that there are individuals out there who are genuinely happy. The faults of life roll off their backs like RainX on a car windshield. On the opposite side of the glass half-full crowd are those who need to wallow in self-pity. They feel robbed of their liberties if their feelings are not validated. They feel they are fake if they act contrary to how they feel. If they do not feel happy then why should they be happy? Problem is when they are not happy they feel no one should be happy. Thus we are all made to feel miserable with them.
One day I was listening to a radio talk show. The caller expressed the need to be true to her feelings but longed to be happy like her fiancé. Even so, she found it difficult to “fake” being nice if she did not feel like being nice. Her question was if she woke up on the wrong side of the bed was it ok to fake being happy? The host told her if that is what she needed to do then yes it is ok because it is never ok to lash out at someone. The host then added that sometimes when we try to be happy by smiling and doing nice things for other people eventually we become happy.
Not long ago I received terrible news that a dear friend of mine had succumb to liver cancer. She discovered that she had cancer only three months prior to her death. Donna was in her late 50’s. Her life had been fraught with peril at every turn. She was abused and abandoned most of her existence. She was strong. She was a fighter. She survived every negative confrontation thrown at her. By the time we met in my late twenties she was no longer the victim. Her rosy cheeks and denim overalls said everything about her character. She was soft spoken and kind. She would give the shirt off her back to help someone. She was genuine; always a pleasure to be around. She always had a kind word to say on both good and bad days. I loved being around Donna because she was fun.
As the month progressed I learned of the severe personal tumults suffered by several of my dearest friends. I realized that day there are more people than we realize who have or are suffering in some form or another. Despite their afflictions, they strive to keep their heads high making the most of what they have. They have dealt with the past. They are moving on. Their lives are not perfect. They are battle worn and scared. Nevertheless, they are striving to make their lives and those around them better. These women are some of the most noble people I have had the pleasure of befriending. Most importantly despite their hardships they are permitting themselves to have fun and enjoy the pleasures of life.
Photo: Red Boat, by Dapixara
When I was a young girl I loved the movie Pollyanna starring Haley Mills. Pollyanna is a vibrant 11 year old girl. Upon her father’s untimely death she was shipped off to live with her Aunt Polly. The daughter of a Missionary Minister, Pollyanna did without the finer things in life. Her only belongings came from missionary barrels or donations. As it so happens, one summer she begged her father for a doll. The ‘Ladies Aid’ tried to find one but all they received by the time the barrel needed to be sent off was a set of crutches. Pollyanna’s father seeing her terrible sadness came up with an idea. He asked her to find something glad about the situation. When she could not he told her she could be glad that she does not have to use the crutches. From that time forward she and her father played what they called the “Glad Game”. Pollyanna set about changing the hearts of everyone around her including her sour-hearted Aunt Polly. One passage I greatly enjoyed, reading in the novel written by Eleanor H. Porter, occurred shortly after her arrival. Miss Polly had just given Pollyanna her daily schedule consisting of cleaning her room first thing in the morning after which she should read 30 minutes aloud to Miss Polly followed by cooking lessons. In the late afternoon Pollyanna was expected to practice the piano. Pollyanna asked “what about living?” When was she supposed to live when her time was taken up with all these extra activities? She lamented that she did not want to just breathe she wanted to live. And so she did. Her Aunt Polly was surprised at the numerous acquaintances Pollyanna had made and the impact Pollyanna made in their lives. The Aunt Polly was so moved by the town’s love for Pollyanna that her own heart softened so much so that she became susceptible to love and forgiveness. The glad game is not that simple. You must find something to be glad about on all occasions. Learning to look on the brighter side of life enabled Pollyanna to step out without fear of condemnation. People loved her because she was so much fun to be with. She could be friends with even the grouchiest of souls because life held no bounds.
This month’s resolution is to have fun. I made this list in the beginning of the year. When July neared I was unsure of what exactly Fun meant. The word Fun is defined as something that provides enjoyment or amusement. I think fun means being able to lighten up despite our circumstances. Miss Polly caved into and was trapped by embarrassment for 11 to 15 years. Her fears lead her down a lonesome unemotional path. Pollyanna gently guided her away from tight buns, dark clothing and pursed lips and back into a world full of color, friendships and joy. Fun for some may include dancing on the bar top but I am not talking about temporary self-satisfaction. Remember the New Year’s resolution’s purpose is to enlighten us and make us better friends, neighbors and relatives. Some activities are better left in the ignorance of youth. The fun I speak of entails allowing ourselves the freedom to stop and enjoy life. Put the electronics away. Forgive whom you need to. Find the glad in your most heart-breaking sorrows as difficult as it may be. To have fun is to help others find the glad so that they too can have fun. To have fun is to vow even though we wake up disgruntled we can make the choice to fake being glad if we have to. To have fun is to discover why everyone calls you the “party-pooper” or “no fun” and change it.
Photo: Nuns Having Fun
I try to teach my children it is ok to feel hurt, angry, sad, disappointed they are all legitimate feelings. But, we make the choice to let those feelings dictate our behavior and attitude or to let it go. It is not easy trying to tell that to a five year old who demands justice even to the point of missing out on the fun that is happening at that moment. I know there is more injustice going on in the world than we can fathom. There are people out there who are suffering or have suffered tremendous acts of violence, abuse and emotional warfare. Yet, day after day they keep moving forward. The writer Erma Bombeck wrote a column, upon discovering that she was dying from cancer, entitled “If I Had to Live My Life Over.” Erma wrote, “… I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. I would have talked less and listened more. I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded. I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace. … I would have sat on the lawn with my kids, even if it meant grass stains.” During the month of July I hope to use up the bottle of perfume sitting in the vanity drawer. I want to view my new home as a vacation rental. I want to find more of the glad, relax and have fun.
This is a short but fairly long list on how to have fun. The possibilities are practically endless. My hope is maybe something on the list will spawn additional fun ideas. Please feel free to share your FUN in the comments section.
Each day write down 3-5 positive things that happened that day.
Learn to have fun playing the glad game.
– Watch the clouds
– Watch a sun rise
– Take a midnight swim
– Observe bugs
– Pick flowers
– Build a fort
– Take a treat or a balloon to friends and family.
– Read a book and come up with a project or something fun to do based on the material.
– Call the girls or take your daughter(s) to go get pedicures.
– Go on a leisurely bike ride with friends.
– Host a mystery dinner.
– Have an unbirthday party.
– Pay for the person behind you at the movies or toll booth.
– Act out a book complete with make shift costumes.
– Host a Karaokee night.
– Have a Nerf gun Showdown.
– See how many Balloons it takes to lift off the ground. Then watch the movie “Deckchair Danny”.
– Put on a Shadow Theater show.
– Simply your life and home. Throw out the excess. Ask yourself do I really need this? Why do I have it? Is it in the way? Allow your home to feel like the vacation resort you always wanted to visit.
– Learn something new.
– Go to a concert
– Go on a ‘first’ date with your significant other.
– Take a “I feel good day” off of work, if you can.
– Check the Entertainment section of the newspaper or a local website to see what is happening in your town.
– Celebrate a holiday or an achievement.
– Stay up until 4 AM devouring a good book or chatting with an old friend.
– Plan a picnic
– Play a game of volleyball or basketball with friends and/or family
– Go to the lake
– Rent a houseboat.
– Host a game night.
– Play Frisbee.
– Go to a public sporting event.
– Play a sport.
– Date night at the arcade.
– Have a scavenger hunt.
– Make a home movie.
– Build a rocket or model car.
– Find a new hobby.
– Learn about Geo Caching
– Let the kids jump in the rain puddles
– Most important loosen up and lighten up. Don’t be negative. Be willing to come out of the comfort shell once in a while. Laugh a little more. Smile a lot more. Look for the joy or “Glad” in everything around you.