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SideLines: Finding my way back to happy

Published: Tuesday, June 3, 2014 8:26 a.m. CDT

I'd been on the wrong side of happy the last few weeks, and I didn't really know why. There was no real reason for me to feel this way. For the most part, everything has been going pretty well.

My car is running fine, which may seem like a minor thing until it doesn’t. What's more aggravating than having your car break down on your way some place, like work? Unless, of course, it's a dreary Monday or it's raining and you don't really feel like going, then you don't mind that much, but that's beside the point.

My job isn’t to blame. Although we all have bad days at work occasionally, I’m fortunate to have any job, particularly one I enjoy. I know a fair amount of people who have been out of work for quite awhile who either can't find anything or they're doing something part-time for a lot less money and no benefits.

As long and dreary as it was, I also couldn't blame my attitude on this past winter, which, believe it or not, could have been worse. There were parts of this country, like Minnesota and New England, which got a lot more snow and ice than we did. Plus, areas of California are experiencing a severe drought I can't imagine – lakes and rivers are drying up.

There are always health matters that pop up, usually when you least expect them, but that just comes with getting older. The way I look at it, I'm lucky to be as old as I am. There are no guarantees that we're entitled to a long life. Someone, I wish I remember who, once said that life is a gift, not a right. So that couldn't be the cause of my discontent, either.

As much as I complain about TV, I can hardly take it out on that. Thanks to "The Goldbergs" and the Memory Channel, I really can't say there's never anything good on TV. Besides, I don't think TV was ever supposed to entertain us every single hour of the day.

And I certainly can't blame the country I live in. Although I only think about it on certain holidays, I am fortunate to live in a safe community in the greatest country the world has ever known. We have our problems, of course, but we don't have to worry about Mexico or Canada trying to take us over if Obama or Congress does something stupid. And when was the last time someone kidnapped 300 of our innocent girls and held them for ransom?

The more I thought about it, the more guilty I felt that I didn't have as much to feel bad about as I thought I should. If that makes any sense.

And then I found the solution. It was right in front of me the whole time, which is probably why I couldn't find it.

What I did to get myself happy again was very simple: I did something for someone else. It doesn't matter what, I just helped someone who needed it, wasn't related to me, didn't know me, and couldn't pay me back. Instead of wasting so much time on myself, I focused my attention on someone who needed more than I did. And that's all it took.

There's an old saying you hear a lot during the Christmas season: It's more blessed to give than receive. I think Jesus first said it, although many have repeated it since without giving him credit.

Another old saying claims if you give, the miracle can happen to you. You've just got to want that feeling. And once you get that feeling, you'll want to have it every day. Bill Murray said that in the movie "Scrooged."

It takes so little to do so much good, not just during the holidays when it's kind of expected, but any time of the year, when it's not. I said that.

And just like that, with one little gesture, everything changed. I'm back on the right side of happy. In fact, like Bill Murray, it's the best I've felt in a long time.

Of course, it probably doesn’t hurt that it’s 80 degrees outside.

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