Guest post by Mary C.

act happy
If you act happy, you can become happy.

I recently read a terrific post by Doug on the forum about how acting as if you are happy can actually help you to become happy. He also wrote about being grateful for the things you have. When you’re proceeding through a tragic period in your life, one issue you don’t typically think about is thankfulness. It isn’t something that comes to mind when you feel your life crashing down around you.

A few months ago, I noticed a homeless person sleeping under an overpass. It made me start to think how horrible that must be. I resolved to start a “Things I’m Thankful for List,” which I save on my desktop. I look at it and add to it when I think of something. I write it primarily for myself, but occasionally forward it to my children. It makes me realize how blessed I am, which compels me to feel better about my life. Here is an example of some of the things I put on my list.

My Children

I always think of my children first. I haven’t been in a position to help them a lot financially the past few years; therefore, they have both worked hard to get an education. We’ve gone through some hell through the years, especially when they were teens, but that’s what moms are for. We endure the bad and good, but we’re always proud of them. I’m thankful for my beautiful and loving children. If I do nothing else with my life, I know I have made a valuable contribution to the world by having my children.

My Home

Next, I look at my surroundings. What I see is a modest studio apartment that I furnished piece by piece and transformed into a lovely home. It’s small, but ideal for me. A few years ago, a series of events put me in a grave financial situation. I went from having a well-paid position to essentially fearing homelessness. I never considered that could happen to me…but it did. Therefore, I’m grateful for my cozy little home. If you have a roof over your head, go downtown early some morning and see the homeless people sleeping on benches, in doorways, and under overpasses.

My Pet

Lying next to me is my little Yorkie named Izzy. I always include her on my list. She is the love of my life. Before I got her, I thought I didn’t need another pet. They take a lot of effort and are expensive as well. However, getting Izzy is one of the most delightful things I have ever done. She has brought laughter and love to my life. That’s the purpose of bringing pets to nursing homes. It does miracles for cheering up the elderly people and alleviating depression. If you’re lonely, get a pet. They will make you laugh even when you don’t feel like it.

My Car

My car is an old girl, but still going strong. I take good care of her and she does the same for me. I had always driven new cars of my choice. However, back when I was extremely down on my luck, I lost the new car I owned at the time. If you have transportation, drive by a bus stop some cold early morning and catch a glimpse of people waiting for the bus because they don’t have a car. It will make you content to have a vehicle of any type.

My Health

I have been disabled for a couple of years now. However, I can still walk, talk, and do just about anything as long as it isn’t too physically demanding. I am very thankful for that. 

It sounds inexplicable, but becoming disabled gave rise to an amazing transformation in my life. I started writing. I had spent my life at a job that paid extremely well, but made me miserable. Now, it’s so wonderful to be doing something I love. I have pain in the majority of my body, but I am so grateful my fingers are still pain free and I’m able to type. 

Family Traditions

Cooking is definitely not my forte. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s typically just my two children, two grandchildren, and me. This past Thanksgiving it was only my son and me. Since there is typically just a few of us, we go to the Golden Corral for Thanksgiving dinner for the holidays. We stuff ourselves with the terrific and unlimited food. People laugh at us for doing this, but I don’t care.

Last week I told my daughter that very few people have memories of Thanksgiving with their mother at Golden Corral. She laughed and said she wouldn’t have it any other way. I figured it was because of my terrible cooking; however, she said it was because we have a unique and fun holiday tradition. She lives a long distance from me and isn’t always able to come home for the holidays. Therefore, she and I are thankful when we can be together. In addition, it enables us to spend more time together instead of being in the kitchen cooking. I’m thankful that my children love our strange holiday tradition.

These are just a few of the numerous things on my list. A lot of them would be insignificant and silly to someone else. We are all thankful for different things. It sounds cliché, but there is always someone in worse shape than we are. Get in the habit of remembering that. As Doug said, stand tall and put a smile on your face. Being thankful for what you DO have and putting on the happy act can do wonders for your frame of mind. Don’t forget to sing and dance!

Have you noticed that when you act happy you feel happy and your spirits are lifted?



    24 replies to "Act Like You’re Happy – You’re Better Off Than You Think"

    • chiffchaff

      Hey – not everybody waiting at a bus stop is some poor sap who can’t afford a car! Some of your article reads more like – go and look at people worse of than you to feel better about yourself, which is not very nice. Fine, be thankful for what you have, but not in comparison to what others haven’t, that’s being smug.

    • Battleborn

      I am not sure that this was an appropriate time to put this “be happy” post here. Yes, we BS have much to be thankful for but the cost of happiness is somewhat diminished by current events. I guess what I am trying to say is while we “look at others who have less than us,” there are people who have just lost their loved ones due to another senseless action. I, for one, do not want to “look” at those families and feel lucky because I have something they don’t. It just doesn’t seem right.

      Mary C. I am not upset about your post, I am upset that the timing of it is off. Yes, I am thankful that my 8 year old is safe but I am also filled with sadness at the loss of 20 children who will not be able to have a good life and those 6 brave individuals who have lost their lives trying to save the chiildren. Yes, I am thankful that I am not living their families lives at the moment, but I cannot help but think that they need us to send our love to them and not look at them for our thankfulness.

      • Doug

        Battleborn, Please do not hold Mary responsible for the timing of this post. She wrote this well before the events of last Friday and it was entered into our blog last Tuesday. In hindsight, I should have taken it down and replaced it with something else, but I just didn’t think about it over the weekend. My apologies.

    • battleborn

      I am not holding anyone responsible Doug. As I said to Mary C, the timing was just not good. No one is to blame.

    • tweet

      I think that the issue here is not one of timing. As a betrayed spouse, it’s difficult to look beyond someone else’s heartbreak and incorporate that into my reality. Am I lucky that my children went to school day after day without incident? Yes, absolutely. Do I grieve for the children lost, and their parents? My heart aches for them beyond belief – words can not express the devastation of losing a child, never mind losing a child under these circumstance. Does that diminish the fact that I am heartbroken over the way my husband treated me? No. The pain is still there…

    • exercisegrace

      I think it is all relative. We don’t have to look at Newtown to be thankful for our kids. We could drive to the local children’s hospital and see exhausted, fearful parents sitting at the bedsides of dying children. We could drive to the local women’s shelter and look into the bruised and battered faces we see there. We could drive to our local VA hospital and see the shattered limbs and sightless eyes of soldiers who have sacrificed so much, and are grateful to be home.
      It is relative. And it doesn’t lessen the pain of infidelity. Especially during the holidays. Especially for those that are dealing with spouses that are absent or who will be next year, and this is the last “family” Christmas.
      I feel blessed that I have no specific triggers tied to the holidays, I know many who do. I am blessed that my husband is trying to fix this, I know many aren’t. But still. This can be a hard time to count your blessings.

      Instead of counting my blessings, or comparing my situation to a tragedy to make myself feel better (which, honestly makes me only feel GUILT for still feeling bad in my situation when it is pointed out to me….well at least you are not dealing with THAT!) I want to focus on DOING something. Buying presents for a needy neighbor, taking a meal to a shut-in or buying groceries for a family we know that otherwise wouldn’t have a big Christmas dinner. When I am busy DOING I am less busy THINKING. And thinking is what gets me in trouble every time, LOL. Doing takes me out of myself, into the world and blesses other people.

    • Battleborn

      Exercisegrace, Perhaps you are correct that everything is relative and it depends on what your definition of “loss” is. My definition cannot include my H affair. Did I lose faith in him? Did I lose trust in him? Yes, but those are not the definitive loss as in never coming back.

      I am of the thought that those who are suffering at the bedside of their dying children or the battered and abuse women/men or even the blinded soldier are in infintely more pain than I. Yes, I am in the throes an affair, but it is nothing comparable to the loss of a child or being abused or wounded in action.

      I hope to God that I never lose one of my children; I have been severely abused (broken jaw) by a vicious man who once called me his wife; and my previous USMC husband passed away in Kuwait. So if number 3 wants to move on, so be it. It’s his loss not mine and I know about loss.

      I feel that being betrayed is a horrible nightmare, but it is one that I can wake up from and move on. My sense of loss is not something can be rectified by anyone. It can be lessened but it never goes away. So yes, we can all drive by and see sadness out our windows but when it comes to loss, I don’t see an affair as dreadful as the loss of a child, or the leg or arm of our soldiers and Marines. Those are things that cannot be replaced, ever.

      Enough about loss. This article was meant to be a helpful tool that Mary C wanted to share with us. There is always some way to make lemonade out of lemons and we just have to look for them. Perhaps not by looking at others, but looking inward and as Exercisegrace said, doing for others. We can make changes in our lives only if we want to… and I believe all of us here want to.

      • exercisegrace

        Wow. I was NOT AT ALL saying that infidelity is equivalent to losing a child, or having a loved one suffer from cancer or anything like that.

      • exercisegrace

        What I actually meant was that there is ALWAYS greater pain in the world. We can ALWAYS look at someone else’s situation and say that they have it worse. It doesn’t make our own pain magically disappear. It is comparing apples and oranges. I am no stranger to serious loss in my life. While I can certainly say that I have suffered worse things in my life, my other losses haven’t been a deliberate act by someone that spoke vows to never do such a thing. And of course “loss” and “betrayal” are two completely separate issues. That you have known this before makes me very sad for you that you have had to experience that more than once.

        Again, I never intended to state or even imply that infidelity loss is in any way, shape or form comparable to the loss of a child, the loss of a limb or any other tragedy for that matter.

        Infidelity brings its own losses, and while not as great as many tragedies that could befall us, there are things that are lost after an affair that cannot be replaced either.

        • Battleborn

          I did not think you meant that at all Exercisegrace. I was just giving my thoughts about the word “relative.” Everyone has a different definition of words and I was exploring and perhaps explaining mine. We have all had hard times, some worse than others, but still we survive and move on with our lives. An affair has swept our feet off the ground and broken our hearts, but this too shall pass and we will get better from it.

    • MaryC

      I am so sorry that I offended some of you. That was the last thing I intended. I don’t think that all people that ride the bus are poor saps. Many people ride the bus to avoid the hassels of mantaining a car and other reasons. I promise, smug is the last thing I feel. I am sorry that the way I worded it offended you.

      My heart goes out to all of you. I have felt the pain of betrayal and still do at times.

      I can’t begin to imagine the pain of the people who recently lost their loved ones in such a horrible and senseless way. I can’t stop thinking about them. I assure you my article had nothing to do with that. It had not happened when I wrote it.

      I choose to write on this site because I care about all of you and I want you to heal and be happy again. I have healed for the most part and want the same for you.

      Again, I am so sorry if I offended anyone, hurt anyones feelings, or angered anyone. It is the last thing I would ever want to do.

      • exercisegrace

        You didn’t offend me at all. I know I need to count what I have left, not what I have lost. Personally, I am struggling because I can say I have a home, but it is where 99% of their affair took place (although that BED is history!!), where he forced me to let her house sit for us early on in the affair, even though I didn’t want her to and was becoming suspicious. I still have the creeps from knowing she had unlimited access to the house for nearly a week! I know we have two cars, but the AP rode around in his and I will rarely ever get it in. It’s paid for and well taken care of, so it makes no financial sense to try and replace it right now. I have my health, but it suffered greatly during the affair even to the point of ulcers and another issue that led to surgery, that I feel was exacerbated by the stress of the affair. I have my kids and they are indeed my light and joy. But since husband and AP ran a business out of our home, the kids saw so much between them, felt their dad’s neglect of the family while having lunch or dinner out alone with his “business partner” because they needed to discuss “business”. They are steadily recovering and rebuilding their relationship with their dad. With me as well, because for awhile they were angry at ME for not “making” my husband get her out of our lives…If only I could have and I tried!! I have my pets, but my most beloved cat died young of lymphoma just weeks after d-day. It was a harsh blow. We are financially stable, but could be so much further ahead if the AP had not been waaaay overpaid during her tenure as partner in husband’s business, and paid handsomely to sell her shares of our company after he (without telling me) had made her an equal owner.

        Whew. Feels good to vent to everyone here. You are all so sympathetic and understanding. But, having said that, I know that I need to focus on the pluses and start letting go of the minuses

        • MaryC

          You have most definitely been through a horrible ordeal. This is a great place to be able to vent. I wish you all the best and hope this misery will be over for you soon.

    • SHAPE

      Oh, Mary C.–I loved your honesty about not doing the cooking for the holidays and your tradition of eating out! I do not like to cook, either, and always feel somewhat despondent about the fact that I don’t enjoy grocery shopping, cooking, backing, etc.

      My family is usually small, too. But somehow, they expect the home cooked meal, although I have been able to get away with just the basics–turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie. No fancy side dishes here!

      Since my D-day occurred two years ago on Dec. 20–just before the holidays–I have a very hard time getting excited about anything this time of year. Too many triggers around me, as the intensity of their affair also started about Dec. 20 of 2009.

      My adult son is disabled and any change in routine is really upsetting, so we are having a non-traditional Christmas lunch (lasagne, which he loves), after which he will go home. Then will go to another couple’s home whose children are also all grown for dinner much later in the day who. If I can be with other people, it makes it easier to get through this time.

      • MaryC

        Shape, I feel for you. Call me weird, but I just can’t like to cook. I imagine that is why I am such a terrible cook. My kids probably think I am doing them a favor when I don’t cook. I love the Christmas lunch you have with your son.

        I have an awesome friend who always invites me to come to her house when she knows my kids won’t be here. She and her sister live together and the three of us have a feast. They are both recently divorced, so we help each other throught the holidays sometimes. I agree with you. Being with people makes it easier.

        I hope you have a wonderful day with your son.

    • Linda T.

      I know that this has been one of the most stressful years of our lives, at least after the affair of 25 yrs. ago, due to PTSD. Things have been getting slowly worse and we were wondering how we were going to even get through Christmas in one peace.

      My husband, 4 months ago, when I was exercising and he felt more positive as I wasn’t bugging him with questions came up with the idea to surprise me and fly in our daughter and 3 granddaughters. Well, needless to say I was so excited, grateful and happy to have them here for a week before Christmas, then they had to go back.

      Then everything changed when one of our 24 yr. old twin grandson’s came home with a lump in his testicle and it was cancer. It’s been growing for a while, but on the inside so he didn’t see the swelling of it till the last couple of months and was waiting for Christmas break to tell them and see a doctor. Well, the news wasn’t very good, as they feel it’s been growing internally for a while. We won’t get the results for 2 weeks if he has to have chemo or radiation. He’s in his last semester of Law School, so this couldn’t have come at a worse time. He came through the surgery well, two days ago and is recovering good so far. But he’s 24 and we are all scared to death, as we don’t know if he is going to have to have chemo and how that will affect school. It definitely put everything in perspective and the arguing with my husband and our marriage didn’t seem as important. To lost my grandson would be devestating to all of the family, especially his twin brother.

      Then this afternoon, his brother who is almost 21 decided he was going to drive his truck in circles, after a football game just for fun. It’s a heavy duty one, he just got new tires for his Christmas present and has put a lot of work into it and he loves that truck, but the Lord comes first in his life. Well, he lost control of the truck while doing those circles, it turned over and landed on the top of it and now it’s totaled. Thank God, he wasn’t hurt for doing such a careless thing. Now, he will be taking the bus to college, so it’s definitely a learning experience for him.

      So, to say that we should be grateful for what we have, even though we all have so much stress in our marriages is an understatement. My grandson’s mean the world to me and to think that one of them could die, either through cancer or an accident, would be awful.

      Thanks for bringing up this interesting topic, it’s definitely causes you to reflect.

      Linda T.

      • Rachel

        Linda t.
        My dad had testicular cancer and it too was found late. He was 50. He had radiation and is fine.
        Prayers and good thoughts are being sent your way. He is young he has amazing strength . Attitude is so important. Positive attitude.
        Please keep us updated.
        Thinking of you and your family during this time. <3

    • Linda T.

      Hi Rachael,
      I’m so glad that your Dad is okay. I just haven’t had any of my 7 grandchildren, starting with my 24 yr. old twin grandson’s, down to our youngest 9 yr. old with any serious injury or accident. We have been so blessed, so this hit us out of the blue. He’s such a fine young man, last semester of Law School, already has been offered a job, so we are all praying that he will be able to continue his last semester in another city. We pray more that it hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes, as that is more major surgery. He’s worked so hard all through school and the whole family are sad and worried about him, as the doctor feels it has been growing inside for a while. All we can do is pray for him and wait until last next week to find out what stage it’s in. At this point, I can’t even think of the problems my H and I are dealing with, they are just on the back burner for now. I’m trying to think positive, but the word cancer, scares me to death.
      Thanks for your thoughts and concern.
      Linda T.

    • rachel

      Linda T.

      Sending good thoughts and prayers your way.

      • Linda T.

        Thanks for your kind thoughts and prayers, their faith is very strong, as is mine, but I know the whole family with their 3 son’s are scared. The twins are almost 25 and their brother is 21. They were checked by a doctor, as it is hereditary, but their Dad and I know the urologist is going to say the same thing, they need an ultrasound. None of us know how long the other twin had the cancer, since it was growing from the inside.
        Thank you,
        Linda T.

    • KelBelly

      Linda T, my neighbors son had the same thing happen at 19. They found it while doing a sports physical for college. He has been Cancer free for 7 years now. I hope your grandson has the same outcome.

      The one thing that I will tell you if the Dr.s haven’t said anything yet to your Grandson is this. Please don’t think rude of me for saying this as it is purely for a medical purpose. If your Grandson needs Chemo and Radiation, then I would tell him to talk to someone about having some of his sperm frozen as more than likely the treatment will render him sterile.

      My friends son didnt give it any thought and now wishes he had because he is now married and cannot have children. Sending mare prayers and good thoughts.

      • Linda T.

        Love the name! That would be the most wonderful news for Brendan also. Did your neighbors son have to go through Chemo or Radiation? We will know the biopsy results next week.

        I was so glad that my son-in-law is going to have the sperm frozen for the same reason. He also had a false testicle placed also. They left that up to him and I’m glad he chose to do it. He’s pretty miserable now as it’s so swollen due to the doctor not given the best instructions, or maybe they were all to upset to hear them. Everything should be written down. They feel that even if he has Chemo or Radiation that he will still be able to finish his last semester of Law School? I don’t see how you can get chemo and go to class and study? I guess I need to read up on it a little more.

        Thanks for the valuable information and prayers, they are appreciated.
        Linda T.

        • KelBelly

          Linda T Yes, he did have both treatments as it had spread to some lymph nodes in his groin area as well. From what he said, there is a very good survival rate from this type of cancer and being that he is young and healthy, I am sure your Grandson will come through it with flying colors 🙂

          They have so many different types of treatments these days and meds to help with the side affects. My SIL was able to continue working while having her treatment for Breast cancer.

          Tell your son in law cold packs are his best friend right now 😉 Froze bags of peas and corn work great 🙂

          • Linda T.

            Thanks so much for responding to my scared mind over my grandson. Yes, he has always been healthy in his body, except for the hernia surgery a yr. ago and sinus. But he is in excellent health and has always taken care of his body. No smoking, eats healthy, exercises and doesn’t drink very much, not at all now of course. It would be so good if he was able to finish his last semester of Law School, as he is doing so well and has already been offered a job at a Law Firm. If they have things to help the side effects, that would be great. I thought that their immune system was down though and they were not suppose to be around a lot of people? I guess I need to read more about it.

            The swelling has went down some, it’s been about 10 days past surgery. Going to the show, like his Mom suggested really set him back. She was just trying to help get his mind off of it, but it made him worse. He was icing due to the swelling getting worse and it’s gotten better. Not sure if he’s suppose to still be doing that all the time if their is still some swelling?

            The CT Scan is scheduled for Monday and then the Urologist and Oncologist will meet with them the day after New Years to explain what it showed and the best coarse of treatment for him. His brother’s will also have an ultra sound to be sure they are okay, since it is hereditary.

            Thanks for your help and trying to ease my mind. I come and go with it, mostly still worried though.

            Linda T.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.