The other day, my wife and I were walking around the lakes near our home. As usual, people in their cars waved and some stopped to say good morning. My wife mused that in all the years that we have strolled around the lakes, only one person had ever stopped and berated us for walking along the narrow road.
When that incident happened, I had suppressed my reaction to look in both directions at the kilometers of empty country road, and express that not one car, in half an hour, had passed us, but instead nodded politely and continued on.
For some reason, that incident made me think of all the wonderful responses I have received because of my writing. Some have deeply moved me, and all have been encouraging. After some 900 responses on LinkedIn, only one person did not appreciate my reaching out. Along with roughly 700 replies from FB, and comments on Goodreads and Author’s Den, again, only one negative reaction.
I’m not talking about people agreeing or disagreeing with me, but about three visceral reactions, condemning what I was doing, walking, reaching out to readers, etc. Most people do not respond at all to my ether thoughts, and I assume many just roll their eyes and move on, but it does pose an interesting question about happiness.
In my previous career, I dealt often with unhappiness. As a Youth Worker, I spent my day trying to right lives that had somehow, and for multiple reasons, gotten sidetracked and happiness had been the casualty.
Thirty years of experience taught me a few things about this elusive happiness — how to find it, earn it, and most importantly, how to keep it. There is no one path, but I do think there are similar signposts along the varied paths that lead to happiness.
One signpost is hard work. No matter if you are just starting out, a CEO, poor, or rich, working hard brings self worth and dignity. Where those two qualities exist, happiness is never far behind no matter the circumstances.
The second signpost is caring about other people. It makes us larger than ourselves and we can take joy in the happiness of others.
So, if you have a need to send a message to another that is less than encouraging, or have the urge to stop and vent at a total stranger, there is another option.
Say a generous word, or better yet, do a random act of kindness. You will feel better about yourself.
So, to all you kind souls who have taken a moment and shared a charitable and compassionate thought… thank you.