Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Do You Have Enough Happiness?

“Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky

It’s interesting that this quote comes for one of the masters of suffering. Poverty, exile, physical ailments, and emotional suffering dogged Dostoevsky for much of his life.

I think it’s poignant that this man urges people to count their joys and discover happiness no matter what their lot in life. It’s a testament to the undefeated spirit.

I was taught early in recovery that gratitude is essential. My sponsor gave me these instructions:

Get up in the morning with a thankful heart, focus on helping others, and go to bed with a thankful heart.

If I followed directions, she said, I might have some bad moments but I would have good days. She steered me right.

The only bad moments happen when I put myself in charge of making sure things go okay. That includes making sure you do the right thing, and making sure events go the right way.

That is such a big job, it’s better left to God.

A friend of mine is struggling through a rough patch in a long marriage. They both see what’s wrong with each other right now. She’s trying to act lovingly and hoping the feelings will follow.

We can so easily dash each other’s hopes, with a single unkind word. All too often we feel the need to point out what’s wrong. And we have those magnifying minds: What we focus on gets bigger, whether it’s good or bad.

I wrote this poem with my friend in mind.

Relationship Trouble

When you tell me
I don’t meet
your expectations
I want to tear out
my hair
and ululate
like women do
in the East
to show you
there is a death
and it is me
you have killed.

In my own marriage, we’re trying to do what Dostoevsky and my sponsor said we ought to do, to count our joys and not our troubles. We tried the counting-troubles part and it was a failure. So we tried the other way, starting with a grateful heart and ending the day that way too. It works. It really does.
Big-time Gratitude: You can read my poem "Redemption" on the poetry blog Bolts of Silk.
And what about your joys? What happiness lives inside you today?


Susan said...

That is very powerful advice. I love the message here. I always try to find joy and happiness even in my darkest moments.

the walking man said...

If nothing is counted as "trouble" then there is nothing but joy to count.

Karen said...

Congratulations for being on Bolts of Silk! I love that site!

My joys? That I am greatly blessed with a loving family, that I spend my days working to improve the lives of children, that I enjoy the company of a few close friends, that I know there is a God, that I have been gifted with words and sight and mobility. This felt like a prayer. Amen.

Beth said...

Most of the time, I AM happy. And I have a husband that works (along with me) to keep our relationship a priority. But I was once in a bad marriage and it is a lot like a slow death.

I hope things work out for your friend.

Brian Miller said...

dang. a simple intensely emotional poem...i like the line about bad moments being when you put your self in charge...so true...

Anonymous said...

I think we have enough happiness, if we are in the proper mind to be able to recognize it.


Dianne said...

Congratulations on the poem in Bolts of Silk,

You have much to be grateful for, and as the dawn breaks, I am grateful for art, the progress the parents made last night in our scout troop's problem-solving-crisis session, for my family who help me limp along, and God who takes me and carries me.

♥ Braja said...

They come equally, distress and happiness...hard to believe, isn't it...

Garnet said...

You and I must have been in the same head space. This is a 'SNAP!" to my post yesterday. I like the Dostoevsky quote.

Nessa said...

I always think I am so powerful that I can control everything. That's when I am miserable.

I do feel better when I remember how much I have from the small to the great.

RnPB: Ch 013 - Clean Up

Magpie said...

Great advice and guidance in this one. Thank you. The truly important things in life are so simple and so easy, until in our humanity we feel we must complicate them.

Terra said...

You are giving wise advice here.
A few months ago I began a new practice: before getting out of bed in the morning I thank God for something. Sometimes one thing, sometimes several things.
This is a grand way to begin the day.

Gabriella Moonlight said...

I always end up working on my gratitude list from morning and write it out at night, it's the last thing I do each evening, ever reminding me that I have so much to be thankful for.

Thank you for reminding me that we do have much happiness and it's all within us.

Syd said...

It is easy to cast blame in relationships and that kills joy. Having romantic fantasies that are impossible expectations put upon each other spells trouble.

Poetic Shutterbug said...

I find that either reflecting on and/or even writing in a gratitude journal helps us see how blessed we really are. I've also found that by shedding expectations of ourselves and others, allows us to live happier lives, though it is difficult to do.

Susan said...

Hey, my 7:00 blog post tonight is about the comment you left on my blog today. I highlighted you in it. I hope you enjoy it!

Marla said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing this.

peglud said...

Just last night I dug out my Gratitude Journal (The Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude, by Sarah Ban Breathnach), made an entry, and read over previous years' entries. They are very sporadic - spanning probably 10 years. And still, they bolster my spirits and re-focus my attention to hope and what is possible vs despair and helplessness. Thanks for this post. Peggy

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

As my therapist told me...don't look for the bad in people, find the good and you both will be happier