I’ve been thinking about the ten tips for a happy life that I wrote about in my last post, and remembering back to a time when it was difficult to try to understand them enough to put them into practice. When I was younger, there were negative people in my life, who found it difficult to let others live their lives without constantly judging and criticizing them. Many of those people were seasoned adults when we were teenagers and young adults; I’m sure they had their reasons for being so critical and judgmental, but they were not the people you went to when you wanted inspiration or advice on how to be happy in life. My guess is that their own lives were unhappy, so they either did not know how to be nor could they show others how to be happy. They could not ‘live and let live’; the unhappiness in their own lives drove them crazy, I think. It rode them. Perhaps a bad marriage, a failed career, lack of money, lack of friends, emotional wounds that did not heal—there could be many reasons for the unhappiness. Some of them were intolerant individuals, particularly intolerant of the minority races they felt were taking over ‘white people’s USA’. These were the type of people who attended Sunday mass and then began to rag on the minority races the minute they came out of church. It did not make sense to me then, and it still doesn’t when people behave like that. I concluded that going to mass on Sunday does not a Christian make. I still feel that way.
It’s difficult to really practice the ten tips for a happy life unless you integrate them into your daily life. You have to understand them in order to put them into practice, and be conscious of your behavior and speech every single day. You have to be aware of what you do and say--think before you speak. Mindfulness is the key word. Wikipedia’s definition of mindfulness is ‘the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one's attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment, which can be trained by meditational practices’. I wonder if the negative people in my past became mindful individuals who eventually found peace. I wonder if they were able to live with some sense of joy in the world together with others. I hope that for them in any case. I for one cannot imagine a more disquieting fate than being destined to leave this world as a diehard negative and intolerant person.