Finding Happiness and Leaving Pig-Pen Behind


Happy woman in sunshineDo you ever get the impression that some people carry good fortune in their pockets while others live in a shadow of despair? I hesitate to use the word luck, but when it comes down it it, some people really do seem lucky and some, well, do not.

All that glitters may not really be gold, but on the surface, there are folks with good health, great jobs, happy marriages, fantastic children and so on, ad nauseam. I always wonder if these fortunate souls wait for the other shoe to drop, or whether they just go along, secure in their charmed life.

Then there are others on whom catastrophe after catastrophe seems to fall. From job loss to bad health to financial problems, these folks just cannot dig themselves out of their bad times and unhappiness.

In the middle are the ordinary folk, marching through life, taking the good, the bad, and the ugly in stride, making things happen, and rolling with the few and far between punches.

I think that we all feel like we belong to one of these three groups at one time or another. I know that there are years I’ve felt “cursed” or just plain unlucky, like I cannot dig myself out of the negative path my life seems to take. These are not great feelings or productive thoughts. They’re a bit too “woe is me,” and I hate to admit to them, but it just feels as though more crappy things seem to happen to me than to other people. Small things, stupid things, big things. A whole lotta bad things. Sometimes I feel like I’m destined for greatness. Other times, I feel like there’s an unjustness in the universe that is just plain conspiring against me. Truisms like “You have your health” mean nothing when it’s seems like you’re driving on the wrong side of the road.

I don’t like walking around feeling like Pig-Pen (you know, with a dark cloud hanging over me). In the past I kept my spirits up with a skill I like to call compartmentalizing (others might call it denial). My method: Pretend whatever bad thing that affected me was not happening while I continued along on my merry way. I was a conundrum of optimism, superstition, and fatalism.

This past year, things changed and I felt slightly charmed. Sure, I still didn’t have a lot of money, which used to be a benchmark by which I gauged happiness (that’s a whole other post), but I was ultimately happy, finally doing work that I loved, and sharing my successes with supportive friends and family. The pieces were finally falling into place. The powers of attraction as touted in the empire called “The Secret” were working in my favor. I was one of those who others envied for their fortune. Or so I liked to think.

And then… it happened. It all fell apart.

Everything. Went. Wrong. My entire long-awaited vacation with my family was completely ruined by a sinister series of occurrences. I’d been looking forward to it for so many years (optimism), that it was bound to be doomed (superstition).

First, on the drive down to Florida I got bitten by something and spent the whole trip with horribly inflamed bites all over my body. I had to go to two doctors (including the ship’s doctor, and no, I didn’t feel like I was on The Love Boat). My treatment included antihistamines that made me tired, lotions and potions, and Prednisone, which meant I couldn’t drink made me feel fat, mean, and ugly. I looked atrocious, and had to keep covered up the entire week.

Then, on the third day my camera broke.

Then, on the drive–10 hours from home–my car broke.

Then (yes!) my data roam plan didn’t activate and my cell phone bill was $500 (just for the first two days).

You know what? It was awful. But this time I did not compartmentalize. I refused to live as unlucky.

I took those stupid bites and I told them to go to hell. I tweeted the manufacturer and got my camera authorized for repair. I called the car manufacturer and convinced them to fix my car for me, and I called the phone company and sweet talked myself out of that huge bill.

I looked up, took a deep breath, and blew that Linus cloud away. I did not let my bad luck take me over this time. I kicked it to the curb. Because I liked feeling charmed and I’m not willing to participate in any pity parties anymore. Stuff (or another word I’m not allowed to say happens), and it’s not luck, optimism, superstition, or negativity that’s going to get me through this rough patch.

It’s determination and a plan.

Tomorrow will be better.

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