Reasons To Still Be Happy

Sometimes I need to read to escape. 

Not for information. Not for facts. But to step into a world other than my own.

Sometimes I read for hope. 

For reassurance. 

For that soothing feeling you get when you drink a really good mug-full of hot chocolate on a cold day.

That’s how I felt when I read Elizabeth Berg’s Still Happy.

The book is a collection of Ms. Berg’s Facebook posts, and since I am not on Facebook, this book was the only way for me to read her delightful observations. (By the way, if you’re curious you can click here to read my article “Why I’m Not on Facebook” on Role Reboot.)

This week I’d like to share some delightful passages with you.

“I want to be a responsible citizen. I don’t want to bury my head in the sand. I want to work hard to try to make a better world not just for our beautiful children and grandchildren but for our beautiful old people and our beautiful selves. We live in such hard times. We need to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others. Therefore the onus is as much on us to seek out and bask in little pleasures (or big ones), to relish or become demonstrations of love and content, to celebrate nature’s beauty and humanity’s worth – as it is to read the newspaper and write our congress people and vote in November.”

“I write because I need to. I write to get things from the inside, out. But I publish to try to connect.”

“I believe there are times in our lives that are little emergencies, when we see that the balance has shifted too far in one direction or the other, and parts of ourselves need more care and feeding than we’ve been willing to give.”

“I feel that we are living in times that assault us every day. I feel that the national mood is dark and despairing. But I also still believe that most people are basically good. We get lost sometimes, we get confused, we get combative, but at heart we are basically good.” 

“I have to hope that the biggest part of human nature is ever on the side of life and love, and that any day now, we will see the evidence of that. It will never be perfect, I know, but surely we can do better than this.” 

Note to my readers – Elizabeth Berg published this book in 2017, but many of her passages sound as if they are written for our current trying times. 

 

Announcing My Motto for Life

July 2019 – A memorable morning; a perfect example of “stubborn gladness”

I think I’ve discovered my mantra, or as close as I’ll get to having a mantra.  

Maybe mantra isn’t the right word.  

My motto. 

My slogan.

My maxim. 

Stubborn gladness.”

I discovered this delightful phrase while re-reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. 

This was my second read of Ms. Gilbert’s book.  The first time was three years ago.  That time, I read the book, used my highlighter to mark “stubborn gladness,” and that was the end of it.

This time, “stubborn gladness” grabbed me.  It stopped me from reading.  I attached a purple Post-It to the page.  And, surprisingly, it’s been my biggest takeaway from this read.

Ms. Gilbert explains that it is her destiny to be a writer.  “I’ve decided to meet that destiny with as much good cheer and as little drama as I can – because how I choose to handle myself as a writer is entirely my own choice.” 

She goes on:  “My ultimate choice, then, is to always approach my work from a place of stubborn gladness.” 

This time, when I read that passage I immediately saw its relevance to my life with an invisible disability.

I certainly don’t approach doctors’ appointments, lab work, and MRIs with “stubborn gladness.”  

And there’s nothing “glad” about daily pain.

But I most definitely, absolutely, positively approach my day-to-day life with “stubborn gladness.”

That’s the reason why I do the things I do.

The reason why I bought myself a new bike.

The reason why I go for neighborhood walks with my son and coffee walks with my husband.

The reason why I went horseback riding this summer.  (Before he started preschool, we took Ryan to Disneyland for a “big adventure.”  It’s the one and only time he’s been.  The summer before he started kindergarten, we took Ryan on his first hotel trip, spending a few days in Cambria, California.  This summer, before starting middle school, Ryan chose horseback riding as his big adventure.)

I do these things, big things and little things and everything-in-between-things with “stubborn gladness.”

Because I can’t change my health.  I can’t make my autoimmune disease go away.  I have to learn to live with it, to handle it, to live with my life as fully as I can – with “stubborn gladness.”

Finding Solace

In the last couple of weeks, there’s been a lot going on in our family.  Nothing I want to share here, but in the midst of it all, I found myself thinking of a book I read a short time back.  So this week, I’d like to share some of the gems I discovered in Elizabeth Berg’s The Year of Pleasures.

Don’t let your habits become handcuffs.”

Some mornings when I read the newspaper, I wanted to weep or pound my fists on the table in frustration.  Some mornings I actually did one or the other.  But museums offered up the other side of humanity: the glory and the grace.”

But it seemed to me that this was the way we all lived:  full to the brim with gratitude and joy one day, wrecked on the rocks the next.  Finding the balance between the two was the art and the salvation.”

I’m not talking about things that happen to you.  I’m talking about things you make happen.  I’m talking about purposefully doing one thing that brings you happiness every single day, in a very conscious way.  It builds up the arsenal.  It tips the balance.”

Oh, nobody understands anything.  We’re all just here, blinking in the light like kittens.  The older I get, the more I see that nothing makes sense but to try to learn true compassion.”