"If you are filled with anger, you create more suffering for yourself than for the other person...So you try to bring peace within yourself first. When you are calm, when you are lucid, you will see that the other person is a victim of confusion, of hate, of violence transmitted by society, by parents, by friends, by the environment. When you are able to see that, your anger is no longer there..." ~Thich Nhat Hanh
The email sat in my inbox for weeks. Read. Unanswered.
Rare for me. My favorite hack is handling emails when they arrive. Responding, acting, deleting.
Yet I let this one go. The deadline passed - and then they extended it – as if questioning the unsteady boundary I’d erected.
What was the email about? Happiness. A request to create a video with our definition of happiness.
It’s been an exhausting summer. I’ve been dealing with changes - which feel like losses - and they're:
So, I’m not really in the mood to create a happiness video - and am kinda resentful of the request.
Why is this bothering me so much? Is it really the video? Or anger around the loss / change I am dealing with?
I must confess something - I watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I could give a lot of defensive reasons why – but at the end of the day – it’s a guilty pleasure.
This season Lisa Rinna has been navigating grief around the death of her mother. And has been angry over another cast member’s public denouncement of her and her husband not thanking her for tickets to a widely celebrated charity event. The anger stems partly from her husband Harry Hamlin being named in this – she is very protective of him.
The other cast member has apologized repeatedly for her behavior. But Rinna can’t let it go. And has been filmed having rage spirals about it – which were aired as they make for good TV.
She has been uncomfortable with her behavior (and other things she has done on social media) and ties it to grief over her mother’s death. I would suggest it is grief anger, and the requirement of the show that she continue to film and be with people who don’t have her best interests at heart. She needs a safe community right now, not those looking for more airtime.
Which brings me back to my anger over the happiness question. Even though I know happiness is something that can be pursued – I’m not ready to embrace it. Much less record a video about it.
And pretending to be happy or normal when we aren’t is a horrible thing. It can lead to numbing with alcohol, drugs, and peanut M&Ms. It feeds the anger that we already have around our world falling apart. Around this thing shouldn’t have happened to us.
It's important to recognize the anger and resentment that comes with grief. Because even though it can cause collateral damage to others, it hurts us most of all. Especially if we live in it too long. Better to feel it, express it healthily (writing works BTW), and move on.
Let the universe and Karma take the reins. What's happening (no matter how painful) is supposed to happen - to help us evolve and grow (if we can only get out of the way long enough for that to happen).
Is happiness the opposite of grief? Is it something to aspire to?
But there’s stress in trying to be joyful. My grief hack for this is to try to be a little happier each day - to find the calm that Thich Nhat Hanh refers to above.
Mario Sirois calls it 3% happier. Which can be walking with my dog (shown above). Or reading a little Natalie Goldberg each morning. (Or watching a group of Beverly Hills women work through their issues).
That feels doable when the idea of happiness feels overwhelming. Insurmountable.
Walking Jake the Wonderdog? Possible.
I never did turn in that Happiness video. But I did walk Jake every day this month.
And I’m okay with that.
Hope this is helpful.
P.S. If you're looking for a peaceful getaway, tools to manage change, and a community of seekers doing the same, please join us for the Managing Change With Grace retreat - October 2-4, 2022 at Kripalu.
Hope to see you there.