Saturday, March 15, 2008

Creating Happiness when Life doesn't bring it Naturally

By Christine Thackeray

A few months ago we went to a "Bunko" party. Bunko is a lot like Yahtzee- it is all luck. The luckiest people at throwing dice move up and the unlucky ones move down. It should be a totally random process but surprisingly its not. The same people including my husband seemed to be constantly at the front table and I with a few other pathetic individuals spent the night at the dregs. It was humbling but enlightening.

As we left for the evening some of the people at the last table had great fun, no pressure, only felt they could go up from there, where as one woman was truly upset and felt like she was a total loser. (I'm not going to tell you which was me.)

Too often life is like that night playing Bunko or like the parable of the talents, the lucky people get everything. Why did the Lord give the one talent to the guy that had ten and not to the one who had five. It's like some people just get all the luck- you know?

Last week I lost at the "Bunko" game of life. Our house was supposed to sell, but the buyers walked away last minute. I had a manuscript rejected for copyright and the work to fix it is going to be emotionally wrenching and physically exhausting, and some people yelled at me because I was late to an activity. My feelings were hurt and I was publically embarrassed. The next day I was totally "dish-rag woman"- depression oozed from my heart in its silent blanket of apathy. I couldn't force myself to smile or cry, I just didn't care. I didn't answer the phone and I didn't act responsibly. Knowing myself, I could stay in a "funk" like this for days if I didn't do anything. I was an empty well and it was time to fill it.

SO- (I'm proud of myself because I don't always do this) I did fun stuff all day long! I played Literati on the computer and won like five times. Then I called four of my sisters and gabbed about kids and life and I laughed! I took my son to lunch and then came home and watched a movie with my children slouched all around me. By the end of the night I was so much happier and felt I could at least begin to conquer all the mountains that had defeated me the day before.

The next morning I rolled up my sleeves and called my sister Marianna (who is practically perfect in every way.) We are writing this book together and I wanted to see how she felt about the rejection since I only emailed the info to her (and was putting off facing her because if she blamed me, I would have crumbled into nothingness.) When she answered the phone, she confessed that she was so upset about the rejections that she had spent the day reading the book, "Eclipse" to get away from it and give her brain a rest.

I thought that was totally unfair. She had figured out that sometimes when life is too much to handle, you just need to step back and feed yourself. Wow, she had figured that out and didn't even have to deal with the grumpy monster that lives in my brain. Maybe that's why she doesn't have a grumpy monster in her brain.

Hormonal shifts, neurological injury or illness aside, when our depression is triggered by externals, we need to remember we have the power to change our input. We are not trapped in a single position, being force-fed life. We can sometimes choose what to participate in to bring us back to center, where we can deal with life. If I could do that one thing better, I may never get to the point where I fall apart. That's the hope anyway.

Back to the parable of the talents in the Bible, the interesting thing that does make me happy is that the guy with ten talents and the one with only half as much both got the same reward. It is OK if we do less, as long as we do our best and sometimes that best means taking a little breather now and then.


Candace E. Salima said...

Christine - I'm sorry you're having such a rough time. It sounds to me like the day you spent "filling your well" was exactly the right thing to do. Never be afraid to do that, ever.

Shellie said...

Wow, so you just made me realize that when I goof off like that I am feeding myself, and here I was chiding myself for being so irresponsible. Thanks! I'm sure things will go better, there is one setback left to live through now.

Anna Maria Junus said...

Great post.

And here I thought it was wild mood swings.:-)