Making others happy
I thought that peace was something that you could achieve and put the certificate on your wall; it would give you the ability to react to certain situations, you’d always be calm when dealing with stress, you would be perfect. The sad fact of the matter is that perfection is unattainable. I’m paraphrasing Steven Hawking when I say that, had the matter in the universe been perfectly and uniformly distributed throughout the universe, the universe would have remained static, thereby achieving perfection in its uniformity. How dull is that? Imperfection makes beauty. Lucky for me, perfection was never something that I was interested in. I preferred to count the smiles I made in others as my life’s achievements.
Even though I’ve tried to make others happy for many years, it’s only been more recently that I’ve been content in myself. Although I consider myself at peace, I do not sit on a cloud and spout philosophy all day. I have a full-time job and a mortgage. I have many of the destructive emotions that everyone else does. I have been known to give other drivers the two-fingered salute when I felt they desperately needed it. I occasionally get frustrated with my body and the pain that I go through with my numerous chronic illnesses. I regularly shout at the television when my favourite football team is playing. In short, I’m just like everyone else.
You cannot help how you feel. We all feel anger, fear and aggression from time to time. The point is to try and take your negative emotion and turn it into a positive. For example, rightly or wrongly, I was very angry when George W Bush came to be president, very angry indeed. I have found that I feel better when I make people laugh so I put my “Cat in the Hat” hat on and walked to work that day. There were so many people pointing and laughing that I couldn’t help myself and I began to laugh too. Anger fades into mist amongst cheerful laughter, so long as you join in!
You can only change the world through positive steps. I expect to make people laugh everyday. I smile at strangers. I try and forgive misdemeanours. Before you know it, strangers are acquaintances who say “Good morning” and “Terrible weather we’re having, isn’t it?” I’m not saying we have to be life-long friends with everyone we meet, but certainly the world feels a better place when everyone makes the effort to be pleasant to one another.
Simply smiling is more important than you’d imagine. When I was studying at university, I was also a security guard in an art museum. I found the portrait room to be of particular interest: the clothes, the hats, the symbolism were all of historical significance. The most important part of the portrait was the facial expression of the subject. Who wants to try and imagine what someone would say if their face looks like they’ve just swallowed a lemon?
Making yourself happy
The difference between making others happy and achieving soul peace is by being true to yourself. Being true to yourself sounds easy but I’ve found it’s much easier to put yourself on the back burner and think of others first. As a woman I have a number of expectations that society puts on me, my family puts on me, my friends and co-workers expect of me. I feel that society at large expects women to be a certain size, shape and to always want to have children. My family and friends have certain obvious expectations: remembering birthdays, organising to see one another regularly and keeping in touch. Co-workers expect me to have a certain level of experience and expertise as well as being pleasant 99% of the time no matter what saga you may be going through at home. Living up to all this expectation can leave us forgetting ourselves. Is it little wonder that I found making others happy easier than trying to sort myself out?
Ultimately it was that little voice in the back of my head that wouldn’t go away – for the years I was with Ramman – “I don’t want to be here anymore,” “I’m tired of all this drama,” and “Find me somewhere quiet where I can ponder my navel for a while.” Now, thanks to the right man and the right job, I have a quiet head. The only drama in my life comes from Maia at the moment, and that’s not exactly a chore because I know she’ll grow out being a teenager eventually.
You can have happiness coming from outside and peace coming from within yourself. I’ll never have the peace certificate on my wall but I’ve got more accolades than I’ve ever dreamt of.