My Happiness Project Update 13: Other People’s Crappy Life

19 Sep

I so wish I could be Buddha-like on this happiness-project resolution. I wish I could be one of those faceless shadowy figures who stand on a mountain top with an awesome sunset before them and their hands in the air — the kind of shadowy people who  are pictured in inspirational calendars. That was my goal, but no such luck. Not even close.

This whole gratitude thing proved to be one of the most difficult resolutions of My Happiness Project. I guess most people find it easy to be grateful. But before you go thinking that I’m some kind of an ass, let me clear things up. I am extremely grateful when good things happen to me. I’m busting out cartwheels and thank yous nonstop. They just don’t happen very often.

Image via

I was doing pretty well with that whole gratefulness meditation thing that Gretchen Rubin suggests in her book, however I added chocolate and a glass of my favorite alcoholic beverage. And that seemed to help during ordinary days, but when you have crappy days I think that’s when the whole gratefulness factor needs to step it up a notch. This is where I’ve been failing, because there is not enough chocolate or Framboise.

I usually just get really bummed out because I can’t think of any new reasons for which to be grateful, so I end up watching a comedy to help improve my depressing attitude before going to bed. Then I’m thankful for comedy. Jason Bateman comedies are common during dark days, although I have a wide range of go-to films for crappy days like that.

But the key is thinking of something new or different each week, or each day. When this crappiness occurs, I always end up saying well at least I have my kids and my health. But part of this whole gratefulness resolution is to find more aspects of your life for which to be grateful.

So I got stuck. Then I realized why …

“One of the many ways to define unhappiness is the degree of difference between where you are and where you want to be — or the difference between what is and what you expect.” — Dale Carnegie

Yes. That’s me. There is a big degree of difference between what I am and what I imagined I’d be at 37. Ginormous. But I’m sure I’m not alone on this one, probably a handful of other people feel the same.  So then Gretchen Rubin makes a suggestion. Catastrophe Memoirs. In other words read about someone else’s really crappy, horrible life and be thankful that it wasn’t you. Now I’m all for reading, but I feel bad about gaining appreciation and gratefulness at the expense of others. I don’t want to be that person who reads about a chick with cancer and thinks … well thank God that’s not me. That’s sort of a crappy way to get to a happier place.

But I realized that Rubin wasn’t suggesting that I have the ha-ha this-happened-to-you-and-not-me mentality. It was more of  an “admonition to live fully and thankfully in the present,” and not wait until “catastrophe” strikes in order to be grateful, or in order to do the things that make your life a life. Appreciate ordinary days and cherish your health. This was what Rubin was getting at with all the catastrophe memoirs.

However, I have yet to read one. I imagine when I’m all the way at the bottom I might crack one open without feeling guilty. But for now, hearing about other people’s crappy life will do just fine. Plus I just stocked up on Framboise and chocolate.


15 Responses to “My Happiness Project Update 13: Other People’s Crappy Life”

  1. TBM September 20, 2012 at 1:08 AM #

    Not sure if this will help you. When I was in college I studied history. German history to be exact. As you know, there are some very tragic events that happened in Germany. When I’m having a rough time, I think about the memoirs from the holocaust and from the war and remind myself that yes I’m going through a difficult period, but so many others have gone through worse. You may not like this method, since it may equate to your reaction to reading a book about a woman with cancer. But I’m not thinking, thank goodness that’s not me. I’m thinking, what do I have to complain about. And it reminds me of all the stuff I have going for me.

    On a side note, I’ve never had Framboise–sounds like you suggest it 🙂

    • The Guat September 20, 2012 at 11:37 AM #

      Thanks for the suggestions, I’m always open to hear stuff that can help me out. And Framboise YES! YES! It is awesome. It’s a raspberry-based Belgium beer. If you like sweet tasting wine you’ll like it. I’m obsessed with it, I should be a spokesperson 🙂

  2. adinparadise September 20, 2012 at 1:29 AM #

    I have no words, as I splutter over my morning coffee. 🙂 Lovely bit of writing, TG.

    • The Guat September 20, 2012 at 11:40 AM #

      Thanks, writing things out often helps and hopefully it helps someone that may feel like me 🙂

  3. on thehomefrontandbeyond September 20, 2012 at 1:55 AM #

    I understand what you mean about times when it is difficult to feel grateful — it is not easy to be grateful when all kinds of bad things are happening –your conclusion though was a good one and will hold both of us in good stead–appreciate the ordinary and your health–though no one can blame us for aspiring to something more

    • The Guat September 20, 2012 at 9:09 PM #

      HA! So true. So true. Glad there is someone else out there on the same wave length. Ahhhhh you made my night.

      • on thehomefrontandbeyond September 21, 2012 at 5:59 AM #

        I know – everyone touts being grateful as a kind of cure all– and sometimes it is just hard to be grateful and that is all there is to it–even when you have things to be grateful for — or maybe I am just not evolved enough.

  4. Day Today Dating September 20, 2012 at 11:27 AM #

    I thought I was the only person in the world who was obsessed with Framboise :).

    – K.

    • The Guat September 20, 2012 at 11:38 AM #

      OH MY GOD … I am totally, completely obsessed with it. Glad to know there are others out there 🙂

  5. Cayman Thorn September 20, 2012 at 8:10 PM #

    I don’t try to get happy when I’m unhappy. I realize it’s not that easy for me, so I kinda take it as I am swimming in the ocean and the rip tide is carrying me and if I fight it, I’m just going to exhaust myself and go under. Instead, I swim sideways in my mind, as I would in the water. Humor keeps me buoyant, without a doubt.
    As for Framboise and chocolate? That’s a superb combination. Peace and light, my friend.

    • The Guat September 20, 2012 at 8:57 PM #

      Swimming sideways. I had never thought of it that way. That’s actually a good suggestion, because sometimes trying to turn it around all the time is exhausting. I’ll try that next time and pop in a some comedy on the DVD. Thanks. 🙂


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