Happiness Project Update 21: The Lieutenant Dan State of Mind

4 Feb

I’m not big on contemplating The Heavens. I have a hard enough time thinking about my own existence on Earth to go pondering about how I’m going to be handling the next life, or “the next stage”. I’m trying to enjoy this one.

Image via happiness-project.com

Image via happiness-project.com

Spirituality and faith, they used to be easy. But now, not so much.

Even though Rubin had the stats to prove that spiritual people are relatively happier, this particular chapter of The Happiness Project was a tough sell for me.  I used to be one of those church-going people, the kind that went on a regular basis. It was a weekly thing. I had the stand up-sit-down-stand-up-kneel-down-then-sit-down routine memorized. I knew the prayers by heart,  didn’t even need to open the book. I had it down, packed. I even had my own money envelope. It had my name pre-printed on it and everything. But once my dad passed away that seemed to change matters. I was no longer attending weekly masses. I wasn’t really talking to God much.

Some people tend to get closer to God when tragic things like this happen, I sort of went to a Lieutenant Dan-State-of-Mind, the kind of mental state that was happening when he was on the shrimping boat with Forrest Gump and the huge hurricane hit. He was up there on the mast, battling and yelling at God, while the storm was rocking the boat.

This is where I find myself, spiritually. I struggle with faith because of the loss. And I’m sure there are others out there with their own faith struggles, but I guess Rubin brought up a good point. How can you have a Happiness Project, without involving spirituality and faith? Studies and statistics show …

I guess that just depends on your project.

Do I want to be in this Lt. Dan state of mind my whole life? I don’t know. Probably not. I’m not entirely off the grid. I do hold certain spiritual states close to my heart. Things like gratitude, mindfulness, and peace. I learned to appreciate “the glories of the present moments” in my ordinary life, like the creation of chocolate. There had to be some sort of divine intervention on that one, right?

But yeah, I’ve still got some sort of spirituality in there and I guess this chapter might strengthen what I have left, but I don’t know if I’ll be going back to the pre-printed-name-on-the-envelopes stage just yet. I understand that spiritually-rich people may be mentally and physically healthier, deal with stress better, have happy marriages and live longer. I get that Rubin checked all the studies on that one. And yes … yes of course I want that for myself. Of course I’m aware that when things get out of control, extremely chaotic, and catastrophic people tend to reach for something beyond themselves, beyond their own universe in search for some sort of understanding and comfort.  Spirituality and faith in God bring a different dimension into life, but it’s taking me a little while longer to get through this post-traumatic growth phase. I reached out, but didn’t get an answer or any comfort. Thus my Lieutenant Dan state of mind.

But eventually the storm passed, and Lieutenant Dan got off the mast and jumped back in the water for a swim. I guess that may be the whole point of the chapter, to remind me to find a way back. I totally appreciated the effort, but truthfully, it’s gonna take some time.


18 Responses to “Happiness Project Update 21: The Lieutenant Dan State of Mind”

  1. 76sanfermo February 5, 2013 at 2:17 AM #

    I- really- appreciated-your-post-so-well-written-so-true-so-profound!
    You’re not alone my dear,every line reminded me moments of my own life…
    I’m still waiting for …….what?

    • The Guat February 6, 2013 at 10:25 AM #

      Thanks. It’s good to know that everybody’s on the ship with Forrest Gump from time to time.

  2. susielindau February 5, 2013 at 5:31 AM #

    I finally figured out what it is about going to an organized religious event. I feel like my prayers are being listened to and I come out feeling like everything is going to be alright.
    We recently skied up to a service on the mountain and after hearing this woman speak about having faith and grace, I felt a weight had lifted. It was one of those cool moments I can’t explain..
    Now when ever I start to worry, I tell myself, “Have faith that it’s going to be okay and I push doubt out of my mind…”

    • The Guat February 6, 2013 at 10:29 AM #

      Thanks for your kind words of encouragement Susie. There was definitely a sense of that before. I’m trying to get back there but it’s been a little bit difficult. So I’m taking it slow. One day at a time.

  3. TBM February 5, 2013 at 6:24 AM #

    Take all the time you need. No one but you will know how you feel and what you believe. I don’t think it’s anything that can be forced. I’m not saying the author is forcing it. Just saying, take your time.

    • The Guat February 6, 2013 at 10:32 AM #

      Thanks. It’s definitely a process over here. It most definitely can’t be forced … the fake-it-until-you-make-it mentality. That didn’t seem to be working. So just taking it as it comes…one day at a time.

  4. adinparadise February 5, 2013 at 12:17 PM #

    I love your way of expressing what you feel deep inside, TG. Great writing. 🙂

    • The Guat February 6, 2013 at 10:33 AM #

      It’s tough when it’s a delicate matter, but I try to but a light spin on it and as always write from the heart. Thanks for your kind words. 🙂

  5. lameadventures February 5, 2013 at 8:11 PM #

    Guat, having endured 12 years of atheist training in my youth i.e., Catholic school, I’m spiritually vacant and I feel perfectly fine about it. In fact, even though my life has had a lot of struggle since the economy tanked, I haven’t been a lump of misery in the least. I’ve just been forced to make do with a lot less and to be more creative. I don’t think that spirituality is a prerequisite for happiness, but at the same time, for those that are spiritual and happy, that’s good for them. I see spirituality as a to each his (or her) own thing. What I think is more important is to not be a dick or dickette to one’s fellow man or woman.

    • The Guat February 6, 2013 at 10:36 AM #

      Dude. Totally appreciate your take on things. Definitely to each his own and not trying to force stuff on others. It’s nice to get advice and support, but I don’t want anyone knocking on my door every Saturday morning asking if I’ve found Jesus. I think I’d have the same response as Forrest Gump … “I didn’t know I was suppose to be looking for him…”

  6. lameadventures February 5, 2013 at 8:21 PM #

    Also, I think you’re justified in feeling how you do about your dad. Some might say that God is testing you. I wouldn’t. I’d say your dad got screwed in the health department as did my mom. You live long enough it’s inevitable that you’re going to lose someone that is very important to you, but I think that you’re entitled to miss them. Something that used to always piss me off is when people that still have their moms bitch about them, but over time I’ve learned to let go of my resentment. Not everyone had a mom like mine.

    • The Guat February 6, 2013 at 10:42 AM #

      Yeah a lot of people throw that one me … you know the “testing one.” I’m so not a big fan of that. I’m tired of taking so many tests. Considering all that I’ve been through I think I’ve got at least a 3.5 average. I need a pass on any more tests that are being handed out.

      And yes I agree with you on people complaining about their parents. It use to get me upset, but like you I remembered not everyone’s dad was awesome like my dad. Was he flawed? Yes, but still awesome. 🙂 Thanks so much for kind words and support.

      • lameadventures February 9, 2013 at 7:49 PM #

        You’re welcome buddy. Unrelated to our discussion, responses to my comments are showing up hit and miss in my Admin bar’s notifications box and that includes these from you. I don’t get why this is happening. What an annoyance.

  7. klsprout February 7, 2013 at 7:32 AM #

    I, too, am an ex-churcher. ‘Religion’ is an in-or-out thing, it’s not a seeking, getting lost, curling into the fetal position, walking a little, discovering, sharing, enlightening sort of thing. (And feel free to ‘test’ those who approach you with the 40-days-in-the-desert routine by punching them in the face. See? You’re giving them an opportunity to be tested! What a gift, praise God!) When weird or wakadoodle or just plain awful things happen in our lives, there should be a jostling, an upset, and these things should not be swept under the rug of denial some people call ‘faith’. Good luck to you on your journey.

    • The Guat February 7, 2013 at 10:04 AM #

      Thanks so much for your encouraging words and understanding of my Lt. Dan state of mind. That 40-day-testing-you-in-the-desert routine … dude. I am so not a fan of that one, but I’m still on a journey here. That’s for the luck 🙂

  8. Island Traveler February 7, 2013 at 11:35 PM #

    Thanks for sharing a post that I myself can relate too. I have my share of trials that made me somehow loose my faith in people and at one point made me question why but then I realized it is during this times of need that God seemed closer and was always there to comfort. Life can be hard but it will be even harder if we don’t have anyone to call for help and guidance. It is also during this times that he sents us loving friends and family to really be there for us. I agree, it does takes time. For how long, we got no clue.


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