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Contrary to what most people think, you can have an enjoyable life in spite of all the crap that happens. It’s mostly in how you perceive things and in what you do about it.

There are several things you can do to have an enjoyable life.

First and foremost, if you have any say in who you are living with, then live with people you want to BE LIKE. The reason for this is, you become like the 5 people you hang around with the most. If you don’t like the way they act and can’t change anything, then YOU make a change. (I am not saying to immediately give up on a marriage, however. There is a lot to be said for committing to someone and doing everything you can to work it out).

If you can’t be around people you want to be like, then try to be with people who are at least striving to be better. In the meantime, strive to become better, yourself.

When it comes to selecting what type of job to do in your life, pick something you enjoy doing. What do you like to do when you’re procrastinating? That’s what you should be doing. A lady was recently telling me how she didn’t enjoy her job, the hours, the pay, etc. So I asked her what she DID enjoy doing. Turns out she really enjoys going through things and throwing things away. This is not something that everyone can do; people can be very emotionally attached to things, even junk. But that’s not her problem! We came up with a job she can start doing on the side, one where she can call the shots, decide how much she wants to be paid, etc. We named her new business “No-Nonsense Clean-outs!” She is now on her way to living a more enjoyable life, doing what she enjoys doing.

If you don’t like what’s happening in your life, then CHANGE SOMETHING! You don’t have to put up with something intolerable. You can save up and move. You can do what it takes to get a better job. You can enlist someone’s help. You can change something. Think out of the box for a change. You do not ever have to be completely stuck in a situation.

I was a mom with 9 kids living in a town where it was practically impossible to get a good job. I had been in a very unhappy marriage  for 21 years. One day it occurred to me that, even though I didn’t believe in divorce and didn’t see any way out, I couldn’t AND DIDN’T HAVE TO spend the rest of my life living in what had become, to me, an intolerable situation. I kept my eyes open, latched onto something when it presented itself, took a leap of faith, and got out of that situation. This changed my life forever. FOR THE BETTER! Look at other people’s lives. Other people have gone through what you’re going through, but not everyone has stayed stuck in an unhappy situation. Learn what they did and replicate it. What a wealth of information is out there…take advantage of it!

Next, look at things like this. You can learn something from every experience and every person you encounter. When something unpleasant happens, you can look at it two ways. You can look at it like: “Why does everything happen to me?”and majorly bemoan your fate, thinking nothing can or ever will change. (You can thus be miserable for the rest of your life). Or you can look at it like: “What can I learn from this?” “Hmm, I certainly don’t want to be like that. Here’s what I can do so I never make people feel like that person made me feel.” “Hmm, I landed in the ditch and wrecked my car again. Well, at least I can make friends with the tow truck driver.” You can thus learn from people and situations, and you can move on.

Is this simplistic? I don’t think so. I know someone who blames his father for every bad thing that’s ever happened in his life. He focuses on the Christmas when the children in the family mostly got just underwear but also had a really nice car. He doesn’t focus on the pleasure they got out of the car, only that HE was only given underwear for Christmas. He disregards the photos showing him playing with toys that Christmas. That conflicts with the story he’s told himself. He can only see his father with hatred, and blames him for every bit of unhappiness he’s ever had in his life. His lot in life is cast…he’ll always be (fill in the blank…poor, unhappy, uneducated, etc.) because of something his father did years ago. The thought that he himself could actually do something about his circumstances has evidently never crossed his mind. He is doomed to be miserable his entire life. (And everyone around him is miserable, too, believe me).

Or you may say, that’s easy for you to say. You’ve never gone through my particular hardship. No, maybe not. But I’ve had my own hardships. I found a wonderful, wonderful man to marry after I was divorced. He treated me like a queen. He brought so much happiness into my life, and he loved my kids so much. We had one good year together and then he got cancer. Just a year and a half after that, he died. I could’ve laid down and died myself. But I didn’t. I learned from him. He changed me for the better. I have faith that I’ll see him again. I’ve been able to move on and be happy in spite of losing him, because I can focus on all the good he brought to my life, and all the good that is yet to come.

Which brings me to my next point. This may be the most difficult idea of all. It is to FOCUS ON THE GOOD in everyone and everything. The reason this is difficult is because hardly anyone does it. It’s a complete difference in mindshift from what people in our society normally do. People today are very focused on picking out every negative thing they can find in every situation and every person, particularly people who don’t do the same things they do or have the same beliefs that they do. (Religion and politics come to mind here. Whoa…don’t bring THAT up!! Immediately, you must hate those people and all they stand for). So, instead of trying to learn from one another, people habitually condemn one another without even giving it a second thought.

So let me tell you how to do this one. Let’s pick out some neutral territory here. (Not religion or politics, but it can apply to both):

Scenario 1: Something not so great is happening. Focus on….what? Anyone? Anyone?……Bueller?                           No, not on the bad stuff. Focus on anything good that can come from it. Ask yourself, is there any good that can possibly come out of this? Will it help someone in your family to grow closer? Will it save you some trouble in the long run? Can something new or better possibly be built because of this? If any good whatsoever is possible, start working to make that happen.

I was working as a census worker and came across a very unusual family. Our town had flooded, and most of the people on the other side of the river had had their basements, and all of the things in those basements, completely ruined. Some suffered more than others. This was one of those families. I had to walk across a plank, teetering precariously over a fairly deep, empty moat, to get to their front door.

The lady came out and had me sit in her yard. I don’t know how her house was still standing, because half of her basement was gone. She said that they had paid a contractor $28,000 to fix up their basement. He took that money, and blew it at the casino. They never saw him again. Because of the mold problems coming up from their basement, her husband now had holes in his heart and several other organs, and was very sick. (Likely eventually to die). And you know what she said? “It’s a good thing it happened to us instead of somebody else, because we can take it.” I didn’t even know what to say.

Talk about resilience. She was focusing on something positive, when she could just as easily become a hateful, spiteful person who hated everything and everyone around her. People like her tend to draw good things to themselves.

Scenario 2: Somebody in your life is a real thorn in your side. This can be for a moment or for a lifetime. Somebody’s doing something that causes you grief. Focus on….what? No, not what you don’t like about them. Focus on ANYthing good that they’re doing or that you like about them (admit to yourself, grudgingly if necessary, that they do have their good points). Focus on whatever good they have the potential to do, whatever good is lying latent within them. Focus on how they breathe correctly…ANYthing that they’re doing right.

Look for the potential. Point out what you like about them. If you can’t make yourself do that, then tell somebody else what you like about them. Don’t worry, it’ll get back to them. Everything does. Do that 100 percent of the time. Never, ever, say something about someone that you don’t want them to hear. And even if you do want them to hear it, don’t say it. It ALWAYS comes back to bite you in the rear. That’s just the way things work. NEVER send out hate, because that’s what you’ll get in return. ALWAYS send out good vibes. People can’t help it…they respond to whatever vibes you send out. (See my post about Karma).

It has just occurred to me that maybe I should be sending out good vibes toward the politicians I detest. Maybe something good would come of it.

Also, maybe someday I’ll venture writing a post about other people’s sacred cows. But in the meantime I relish not getting my head chopped off, so I think I’ll save that for another time.

Next, be generous with your time, your talents, and whatever you have been blessed with. Give and don’t expect to get anything back. When it’s your birthday, count up how old you are, and do that many acts of random kindness for people who cannot do the same for you. LOOK AROUND YOU and see what’s really going on in people’s lives. People are in need, constant need. They need to feel like someone can hear them. They need to be able to pay for things. They might be in real pain. Everybody’s got something in their life that is just awful. They cry in the night for what they need, and if someone can just open their eyes and see that, then they can do something about it.

A bonus for doing that is, you can never do good for someone else without bringing some good into your own life. This is the greatest help for low self-esteem I’ve ever known. Also, when you are busy helping someone else, your own problems fade way into the background.

Lastly, be grateful. A million people in the world would love to trade you whatever problem you have for whatever they’ve got to deal with. Even ancient kings never had it as good as you do right now. Focus on your blessings. They are many. I’m talking about consciously taking time every day to think about the things that you can and should be grateful for. You can walk. You can talk. You can hear. You can see. You have a roof over your head. You have toilet paper. You’re warm in the winter. You have food. So many people don’t HAVE these things!

Never compare your situation, or what you’ve got to work with, with someone else’s. “We are not diminished when someone else is added upon.” (Jeffrey R. Holland). Everybody is in their own personal journey, and we should only be concentrating on our own.

So, to recap, if you want to live an enjoyable life, in my humble opinion, you should do as many of these things as possible:

Live with people you want to be like. If you can’t do that, try to live with people who are striving to be better, so you can become better together.

Do work you enjoy.

If you don’t like something, then change it. You do not have to stay in an intolerable situation. Learn from other people’s lives.

Learn something from every good or bad experience and person you encounter. Learn what you need to learn and MOVE ON.

Focus on the good in everyone and everything. Look for whatever good people are doing, or whatever good can come from the experiences you’ve been given. Focus on the positive and forget the negative. Send out good vibes and watch good things come back again. (And DO read my article on karma. I do think it’s worth reading!).

Be generous with your time, talents, and whatever you’ve been blessed with. Help others with their problems, and make a difference in the world. Forget your own problems by alleviating the problems of others.

Be grateful. Focus on everything you’ve been blessed with. Don’t compare your lot in life with someone else’s.

Now go and live a really enjoyable life!