Since there is not a Wild About Books December book club selection and November’s book was so good; I believe we should discuss “The Untethered Soul” one more time. My favorite chapter is chapter 15 “The Path of Unconditional Happiness” The secret to living a spiritual life. It’s amazingly simple really. Happy or not happy; it’s your choice. That’s it. You choose to be happy or you choose to be unhappy. An easy example would be; you added cumin to your muffin mix instead of cinnamon. Now you’ve wasted your time and money on a dozen nasty tasting muffins, throw the muffin tin and the muffins out the front door and vow never to bake again because you are too stupid to pick up the correct spice. Unhappy choice. Or; you rename the muffins “Mexican muffins” and see who will eat them and clearly mark the cumin container so that that doesn’t happen again, lesson learned. Happy choice. Even worse is when you allow others to make you unhappy. You base your happiness conditionally on what other people do; that’s ludicrous. I’m going to be mad all day because someone cut me off in traffic. No. My choice is no; I will not let them control me like that. I will still be happy. What about people that let the weather control their happiness? There’s nothing they can do about the weather! How can you let the weather control your happiness? There are people that I work with that get upset when the snow comes. What?? You live in Montana! Or people that choose to be unhappy because it’s Monday or worse, unhappy because it’s Sunday which means that the next day IS Monday. They choose to be unhappy. Clearly they choose to be unhappy if they make a day of the week a happiness indicator. A difficult example would be when a 24 year old co-worker who you’ve known most of his life wrecks his motorcycle on a beautiful Saturday afternoon and dies. It’s still your choice to be happy. You can be sad about the death and grief can grip you when you are not expecting it with uncontrollable emotion. If you are his mother this grief can grip you at any moment for the rest of your life. But; and this is a big but and I can not lie, you can choose to be happy. Happy that he was out doing what he loved on a beautiful Saturday afternoon and you can choose to be happy that his death was a blessing over being mangled and crippled and in pain for the rest of his life and you can be happy that for 24 years his family was able to enjoy having him around. It’s your choice. It’s your choice and it must be genuine. You have to believe it. If you are faking happiness it doesn’t count.
Let’s use an every day example. How do you stay happy every day at your desk job pushing paper, filling out online forms, nagging people for receipts, etc. You can attempt to purchase happiness. A new computer for your desk, a new desk for your office, a new office space with a big window. You can list all of the great things about your job such as the pay, benefits, flexible hours, cell phone, matching retirement plan, etc. No matter how much you try to make it better, you are still at a desk managing super boring, non challenging, uncreative paperwork. Did I say you? I really mean me. What makes me excited to get up in the morning? I choose to be happy. I choose to make off color, inappropriate jokes at work, I choose to send silly emails that make people laugh, I choose to start an administrative book club for some interactive dialog and I have a Happy Sack. Yes, I have a happy sack. Before I moved into my new office with a big window, I had a small closet next to the staff bathroom. In that closet office I had an outside door that took me right to the reader board sign for the school. So I took it upon myself to be in charge of the reader board sign. Usually it was upcoming events like home football games or the next school board meeting. One day just for fun I put up: “Never trust an atom, they make up everything”. Some days I would have students put up the letters for me. Two boys from the 7th grade came into my office to do the reader board. I had to introduce myself, because, as the school paper pusher, I don’t interact with the students and therefore don’t know them. One of the boys eyes got big and a huge grin came upon his face as he looked at the shelving on my wall and exclaimed in excitement; “YOU have a happy sack”. Oh jeez, what does he see on my shelf? What have I brought into my office that could be referred to as a “happy sack”? I slowly turn, scan the shelves and there it is. My hacky sack; now and forever known as my happy sack. It has now moved from the shelves to my desk.
Choosing to be happy is not as easy as it sounds and it is easy to forget that you have that choice. Believe me when I say that having a happy sack on my desk not only reminds me that I have that choice to choose happiness, it also puts a smile on my face and how can you be unhappy with a smile on your face.