Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Optimism and Happiness

As Abraham Lincoln once announced, "Most folks are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

He was quite right. I feel emotionally exhausted from time to time concerning the subject because it seems like "most folks" make up their minds to be unhappy. I am here to debunk the myth that happiness comes out of your situation.

It really all stems from perspective. For instance, in current times, where we have many kinds of soaps, disinfectants, sterile hospitals and things made out of plastic, we are very clean individuals. When you walk into the bathroom, you might smell something foul and you would notice it.

However, contrary to Hollywood portrayal, the Medieval times were pretty disgusting. Although various forms of soap had been invented at this time, imagine life without a shower. If you had a basin, you were able to bathe. If you are a woman, you would wait until everyone else has bathed and use the cold water everyone else had used. If you needed surgery, you could be restrained as they cut you open, or they could knock you out with alcohol or a hard object. If you are a woman, you were probably not allowed to have surgery. There were no hot packs, no cold packs, no heating or air conditioning. The worst part to me is this: there were no clean and private toilets, and worse yet, no feminine products.

In light of this, most of us would look back at the muddy streets and diseased peasants and think "I could never live in that!" Yet somehow, so many people did. They died younger because their bodies were incapable of keeping up, but they had just as much of an ability to be happy as we are today. The fact is though, no matter what time period it is or has been, people are difficult to make happy. It is not because of the world itself, but because of the attitude people have about living.

Before I get into this next topic of discussion, I would like to point out that I am not against medicine. I am just against excessive use of it and I will explain the reason why.

People are generally born with the correct balance of chemicals in their brains which create a sense of happiness. Occasionally there are people that just can't seem to be happy no matter what they do. That is usually due to a chemical imbalance and those people require the use of medicine to keep their serotonin levels at a proper place so that they can function. Most people, however, are perfectly capable of functioning upon the level of serotonin they already have. The reason I do not like extended medication most of the time is that it inhibits this and makes it so your body gets used to what is being put in your body and then you cannot function without it.

In light of everyone's issues with being happy, I have decided to create a guide to happiness for you. I understand we all have our moments and are not going to be happy all of the time, but there is hope! When you remember you can be happy, you will now have the ability.

1. Don't put things in your mouth that don't need to be there. This includes alcohol, medication, and other drugs. Anything that alters your brain from the way it would naturally think can cause problems. If you have a serious depression issue, medication can be excused. Alcohol is okay occasionally, but not excessively (like if you "need" it, there is a problem). If it alters the way you think, it is likely you will be unable to enjoy proper serotonin levels without it, and then can be dangerous for multiple reasons.

2. Experience healthy things outside of your comfort zone. For instance, go out and do something new with your friends. Explore or take a road trip to a site within a couple of hours of where you live. Go try a new exercise program. This is particularly important for extroverts, but introverts must do this as well.

3. Eat healthier. You will feel more fresh, and fewer health problems will decrease your stress. If your stress decreases, your health problems decrease.

4. Dress up. Looking at yourself in the mirror and thinking "dang I look good" is a fantastic ego boost. Especially when you laugh about it afterwards. If you are fashion-challenged, find someone who is not and ask for their help.

5. Take time out of your day to follow up with your favorite hobbies, such as reading, writing, etc. If you enjoy science, read a book about it for fun. If you like art, create something. Don't watch TV or surf the internet. This is time reserved for your own self-education, and not for school or work. You will feel important, peaceful and productive afterwards. This is particularly important for introverts, but extroverts need to try it also.

6. Spend some time thinking about God. Just ten minutes can make a huge impact on your day. The moment you realize within yourself that God is infinite and that all of your problems here on earth are so minute in comparison, you'll be unable to take any small problems seriously. Instead, you will be focused and determined on the important things because those are the things that God has set before you to accomplish. If you don't ever have epiphanies about what God does in your life, seek him more actively and he will meet you.

7. Do your best at the things you do and forgive yourself for mistakes. If God forgave you for everything, then there is no reason you shouldn't forgive yourself. Just try your very best not to make them in the first place. Ironically, the best way to avoid making a lot of mistakes is pretending like whatever you are doing is unimportant for the most part and telling yourself there is no possible way you will make a mistake. It may not be true, but as long as you know that, you'll be okay.

So that is my final word on happiness and the importance of optimism. Go forth and be happy!

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