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Daily Gratitude: My Dog

bark-vader

I’m a few days late, but since gratitude is such an important part of happiness, and since I am terrible at practicing intentional gratitude, I’ve decided to start a gratitude series for November.

Today, I’m grateful for my dog. He let me dress him up as “Bark Vader” for Halloween, and even though he was clearly uncomfortable, he took the whole thing very seriously and stood perfectly still, letting me take as many pictures as I wanted. No worries; he was generously rewarded afterwards. I would love my dog even if he was bad and he got into things and was disobedient, but the fact that he is willing to work with me and play along with my silly antics makes me love him even more. Plus, snuggles. They’re just the best.

What are you grateful for?

Creatures and Happiness: Zombies

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Zombies- Night of the Living Dead

What creature is better to discuss on Halloween than the zombie? Of Haitian and West African origin, the zombie has certainly seen a popularity boom in recent years.

There is another reason zombies are appropriate to talk about now, and that is the current political climate. Among other things, zombies are thought to represent fears of the aristocracy of the hoarding masses rising up. (Vampires, in contrast, can be seen to represent the fears of the common man of the powerful, “blood-sucking” aristocracy.)

When I ask myself what zombies can teach us about happiness, I think of empathy. It is tempting to see those whose views oppose ours as something “other,” something less than human. It is easy to try to find a scapegoat for our anger, and often that scapegoat is the group of people we align with the least. It’s only so easy to see those groups we disagree with as a thoughtless hoard consuming all that we feel is good in the world.

Truthfully, though? We are all scared. We all feel helpless. We are all looking for solutions, and none of us are right one hundred percent of the time. Who do you see as the “zombies” in your life? Are they working class Americans? Are they BLM protesters? Baby boomers? Millennials? Are they the 99 percent? The one percent? Are they those who support the opposite political party as you? Maybe today is the day to try to learn something new about those you view as “other.” After all, what better day than Halloween to confront your scariest monster and realize there is a human being underneath?

I’ve got a few weeks left in the Creatures and Happiness series. Is there a creature you would like to see me cover that I haven’t covered yet?

Today’s Inspiration: Monsters

22you27reofftheedgeofthe0amap2cmatehere2ctherebe0amonsters220a-default

This one seemed appropriate for Halloween. We’ve all got to go off the edge of the map sometime. What we find there are the stories that shape who we are and what we will become.

Chatting with Fear

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I once wrote a poem that started with, “What is fear but the unnamed, unexplained, unappreciated monster, the bump outside our fortress in the dank, dark night, the tickling, prickling of our feet as we dog-paddle across the deep, dragon-infested waters of the unknown?”

It was a silly poem, but fear is arguably the most vulnerable emotion, is it not? At the least, it is hand-in-hand with love. We would much rather shove it in a corner, cover it up, push it down, than admit to it. However, it is only in admitting to it that we can accept our fear for what it is.  So many other more complex emotions are largely a mask to cover up that scary emotion called fear.

What is hatred or bigotry but fear of the unknown, the different, the “other?”

What is anger but fear of losing the ones we love or fear of being unloved ourselves?

What is complacency but fear of change?

What is arrogance but fear of rejection or failure?

What is anxiety but fear of what could go wrong?

Today, I invite you to invite your greatest fear into your home, sit it down, and serve it some metaphorical tea and cookies. Listen to what it has to tell you. Don’t try to hide it, change it, or move past it. Not today. Just let it be, and accept it for what it is. In listening to it, you may find a beautiful truth, something you never knew about yourself because you were too afraid to find out.

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