I found this title in the things to do bin and thought it would be fun to write about. Why do women think I'm nuts? For one thing because I am so happy, after losing my husband and best friend (he became addicted to his prescription pain medication and walked out on me) I subsequently lost my second job, my health, my home, my dog and now I guess my boyfriend is tired of me too. So why am I still so happy? At 42 when my husband left me the debt was tremendous. He hadn't worked in years, and he had plowed through our savings. I realized at my age losing my husband was insurmountable. I was in no position to date again. I couldn't have anyone enter my crazy life. I was working seven days a week anywhere from 13 to 8 hours a day. I did that for two years until I lost my health, my sciatica and back issues made it impossible to continue. Even before the back pain though, I decided I had CLEARLY messed up my life beyond repair. There aren't enough years left in my life to replace any kind of retirement plan.
So I took another tack. I decided all I had left was to be happy for other people. I work at a post office. I do the best I can. I mean that literally. Having some pride in my work is enjoyable to me. It may be mindless work. My co-workers Dopey and Lucky don't have a brain between them. Watching them, anyone can see there is a marked difference between doing the work well and not. They could care, they chose not to. They return people's mail, I know because even my mail got returned and my interest was raised from the credit card where I missed the bill. I guess in Dopey and Lucky's tiny little world the only thing they have control over is messing with other people's lives. So they do stuff like that.
As for me, even beyond doing my job as well as I can, I connect with my customers. If I see someone walking their dog I ask them about the breed, the age of the dog. I keep little biscuits for the dogs as treats and small lollypops for the children. People get a kick out of being remembered. Remembering the name of someone's pet or child makes the post office more friendly. If I see their kid in the paper for doing well in soccer or school, it's nice to make a comment to them about that. Being happy for other people is low calorie, free and very rewarding. If you have it in your power to make someone feel good about themselves, why not do it?
A few years ago there was a bumper sticker that was popular that said "Random acts of kindness." I found that kind of irritating at the time because I think acts of kindness can be deliberate. It's better to cultivate an attitude of goodness. Being random though, is careless. Is giving a drug addict money kind? I don't think so. I think that's dangerous enabling. So I am deliberate in my kindness. I consider carefully if there is something nice I can do, which is neither burdensome nor co-dependent, just purely nice, and then I do it.
I have noticed that the kind of people who put random acts of kindness on the back of their car are sometimes not kind at all. They WISH they were, so they put the sticker on their car, hoping to change their attitude. It's like my friend's joke about 12 step groups. She likes to say, "they don't call it 'Healthy' Person's Anonymous." Sometimes people are drawn to spiritual groups, 12 step groups, and therapy etc. because they have problems. A group of women in my neighborhood wanted to start an "intention group." They suggested we think good thoughts for each other.
I made the mistake of taking this at face value. The first woman stated her intention, and then it was my turn. I mentioned my intention of getting another job to replace the one I lost a year ago, and imagine my surprise when the women in the "intention" group judged me so harshly. "You don't value yourself," one woman said smugly upon finding out I had been job hunting for a year. She clearly wanted to fix me. Her friend was no better. They wanted to know why I didn't take a job cleaning houses, or for minimum wage at the nearby truck stop. These are jobs I noted, neither one of them would do. Yet they felt it was fair game to suggest that I, a college graduate do these jobs with a smile on my face.
So I quit going to the "intention group." And I gave up on church. And I also doing attend drum circles or spiritual workshops. So why am I still so happy? How can it be that I still serve people at the post office with a smile on face? How do I remember the name of everyone's grandkids, who I've never even met? It has to do with the decision to do things that nurture me and avoiding negative things. I turned off the TV which is full of images designed to make people feel bad about themselves. Watch TV and you will wish you had the life of all the happy people on the ads, you will wonder why you aren't as young and thin as everyone else and so on.
I gave up on church because the churches in my neighborhood look for "creamers." For example, if I my husband had gotten clean and come back and loved me and supported me financially we could have had a front row seat. We could have given testimony every week. We would have been the perfect witnesses for Christ. Taking the cream, people whose lives worked out and attributing it to Christ is the opposite of what happened to me. They thought I must of sinned and wouldn't admit it. Or maybe they just think I'm nuts.