Just finished reading an old post on Gretchen Rubin's blog The Happiness Project. I am actually quite taken with the idea of a Happiness Project, having walked through the dark and hard places over the past bit of time.
Part of the Happiness Project is to develop your own set of "commandments"--things that you think about and live by on a very personal basis. They are the things you need to do to be that happier person.
And no, they don't conflict with the Big 10, nor or they meant to take the place of those higher laws. They are meant to help us pinpoint the actions and attitudes that keep us from being happier--the roadblocks we put in our own way. What is most interesting to me is to see the evolution of Ms. Rubin's commandments over time. She has some that last, others that she finds need to be tweaked or restated or just replaced as life goes along and she thinks about them more.
This quote comes from one of her commandments for herself that later disappears, or is melded into another one. But it struck me as being very important. You can read her blog entry about it here, and I wish you would.
The quote comes from a prayer attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo:
rest your weary ones; bless your dying ones;
soothe your suffering ones; pity your afflicted ones;
shield your joyous ones.
And all for your love's sake.
She then goes on to talk about those joyous ones.
It's a post full of food for thought. We live in a time where it is far more socially acceptable to be cynical, sarcastic, world-weary and jaded than it is to be joyous. Those people who are joyous or enthusiastic become the butts of jokes or looked down upon as "simple" or simply "not very bright". The enthusiasts are looked on with, oh I don't know, pity for lack of a better word. Or their enthusiasm is just seen as a character trait--"that's just the way they are". No props given to them for being happy, heaven forbid!
And I know this is true because I have been one of the awful people who are doing the looking down upon. God help me. It's an area I have chosen to work hard on over the last few years. I was so surprised to read someone else's thinking about this!
Over the past year or so, I have made an effort to lose the cynicism, ditch the sarcasm. I have tried hard to become one of those "enthusiasts". I have quit trying to dry up the tears when joy overwhelms me at mass--I'm learning to live with the fact that I'm always going to be "that lady who cries" and not worry about it. I don't care if the hobby I LOVE is an old fashiony one that most people couldn't spare the time for--because they are too busy to love something like that. I am no longer apologizing for liking what I like and doing what I do. And if that makes me silly, well, then, I'm silly.
And I would 200 times rather hang around with someone who rescues cats or collects coins, or paints china or DOES ANYTHING enthusiastically, than hang around with the cynical hipsters of the day. Maybe more than 200 times. Maybe 1000 times. Maybe a million times.
You see, I think that the cynicism and sarcasm are a shield. A way to keep from getting hurt. If you don't become enthusiastic about anything, you won't fail at anything. You won't accidentally pick the "wrong thing" the "uncool thing" to be enthusiastic about and run the risk of not being "in".
And I don't want to do that anymore.
But the other thing Rubin says in her blog post is absolutely true. We miss what effort it takes for the joyous to BE joyous. We act like it is "easy" for them--and therefore discount the very real effort it takes to be the enthusiastic, joyous person. It's hard. And, I think, it is virtuous.
Oh, my. Dearest Lord, help me be one of your joyous ones. Then shield me.
Happy Wednesday, ya'll!