How do you mean the glass is always full with the grim realities of life all around us?
I am sure you would also have questioned how possible it is to maintain an optimistic perspective on life.
Rise up in the morning and look outside. The sky is an array of melted crayons. If you are early enough, the colours are the dark ones: the blues, the purples, the blacks.
Then, as you stand there watching, the colours meld and the reds spread over the darks; oranges flow, and eventually, along comes the quiet yellows.
With a sky like that, how can you not feel happiness bubbling up inside you? Listen to the sound of its music; it’s a creek in the middle of the forest, gurgling with flowing waters.
Inside it is the sweetness of chocolate, the smell of fresh bread. There is love and warmth, and the feel of the pillow against your head when you are tired.
High up in the trees, the birds are singing. Do you not hear them? Your soul can match their song if you let it. Join with them. Take wing as they soar into the colours of that tangerine sky.
Perhaps, you are not a morning person. Benjamin Franklin believed that it was impossible to rise up into the day and not feel the winds of promise, but humans vary in their likes and dislikes.
Maybe, you choose a later time to come to life — to stretch and inhale the scents of flowers and grasses. The zephyr that waves the tree limbs can coat your face with blessings at any time of day, if only you will open your heart to feel it.
I have a rule, a soft rule — one that is more habit than enforced decree. The moment of my awakening, before my feet touch the floor, my mind sorts through the coming day. What expectations do I have? What is there to greet with eagerness?
This habit is so strong in me that thoughts come flapping wings of joy before I take my first step or even open up my eyes. When you greet the day with such a scanner of anticipation, there will always be a prayer of thankfulness on your lips.
My wife and my daughter who wake beside whispering greetings of happiness and enthusiasm. The contentment and joy they irradiate set my pulse racing with the giddiness of how good the day will turn out. There is a lesson in such appreciation we all need to be thankful for.
Many happy people have animals. Who has ever watched a puppy or kitten play and failed to laugh? Animals brighten our days. They improve our health.
There is music.
In this world of war, where angry words are tossed about like frisbees, there is a place where humanity has perfected teamwork.
Composers have written, conductors have led, and groups of people as diverse and multi-lingual as the United Nations, all gather together and produce symphonies of sound.
No one looking at such orchestras could be without hope for the future of mankind because those musicians come together and want to be together in order to create something beautiful.
No matter what your taste in music is, you must appreciate that such an arrangement will be heard throughout the world, and people who do not speak the same language or believe in the same things, will hear it, and that piece will communicate the essence of all that is grand and wonderful.
Each time I listen to music, I think those thoughts, and the melodies those musicians are playing, weave around me like an enchanting spell of a benevolent witch, and I am caught inside it — inside the magic of song.
Whether you have the same love of rap music, as I do, or you find rock to be your choice, or Afropop or the music of romance — that selection can take you to another land, to a place you can visit whenever you choose.
That freedom of choice, even on its own, can make me smile. What power we have to log in on a streaming site and select whatever we wish to hear. How fortunate we are, and what happiness that special tune can bring. A happy melody can lift you up with its helium of song.
I like to think that happy thoughts are like the treasures we keep in the pocket of our memory. We can pull them out and count them, listening to them, watching them, remembering them.
It is powerful magic to have our individual collection of pleasant thoughts. We can savour them whenever we choose. Each one of us is truly prosperous with recollections, even if we are penniless, for all of those memories are free to browse whenever we wish.
I once read a story of the value of peeling onions. A good cry can make you feel much better was the theme. Perhaps, that is true, but I believe more strongly in the opposite.
I love movies that bring me laughter. I love funny stories, jokes, and comics that are silly. Laughter heals. It makes the bubble of our inner happiness come alive.
Yet, I cannot spend every moment laughing. My stomach would hurt, and I would accomplish little. That is why I have chosen to befriend the smile. It accompanies me everywhere and attracts the grins of other people.
Smiling people create optimism. Try it. Even a forced smile turns into the real thing when it becomes a habit.
I can imagine that by now you are thinking that I’m a dreadful liar. Perhaps you believe that no one has a life so perfect they do not encounter sorrow, pain, or disappointment. Of course, I do, and of course, I have.
I am human; that is part of the definition of life — the highs, the lows, and the placid, plodding in-betweens. But I am not a piece of clay that others may mould with their tempers. I have the right to happiness, and I insist on it.
A waterfowl ignores the rain. Worrying over the fall of heavy wetness will not prevent that rain from falling, and ducks and swans know that soon the showers will cease, and the sun will shine again. Water drips down into their pond abundantly, but the birds remain untouched by it.
We are not waterfowl, but we can learn from them. We can shower, or sing, or write (!!!) away the cold, dampness of disillusion.
We can accept that our problems will fall in steady downpours. We can ignore the beat of them, allowing them to flow off our shoulders, like the water sliding off our feathered friends’ backs. We can float above their stress in our own pond of contentment.
But I have stumbled from corner to corner, and still, I have not told you the direct route to happiness. That is because, I fear, that you will not believe me. You will scorn my knowledge of its path.
Yet, I know with surety the answer for which you are seeking. The quiet of the morning has told me. My silent prayers to God, which comfort me — they have told me. My meditations and memories of all things pleasant — they also, have given me the truth.
If you try to guess it yourself, saying, “The route to happiness is love.” I will not deny your statement. Yet, that is not the whole.
Perhaps, you will add, “Happiness is thankfulness and prayers.” Again, I will not reject your supposition. “Then what!” you may demand with full-voiced irritation.
I will tell you: to be happy, you must bring happiness to others.
It is such a simple truth. Feed your neighbourhood waif and he will forever be grateful. In doing so, both of you will know the warmth of contentment. It is thus, that happiness arrives in its perfect and complete circle of existence.
Giving without thought of return always brings its own reward. Pass on a kindness and that tenderness you feel at giving such a gift will thaw every bit of sadness inside your heart. When you are spreading cheer to others, you cannot be sad.
Now, you know the truth. Now you are armed with the treasures of life. Sample them.
Breathe in the wonder of this Earth; be thankful for music, laughter, the sky at dawn, the sound of the ocean, and God, who always listens.
Remember that love is to be shared.
And never forget to bring happiness to others. For in so doing, that happiness will return to you, multiplied sweetly into serenity and peace.