Happiness begins with this realization…

Seems like everyone has had “aha” moments; here’s one of mine.

“First” was a greyhound … and, I mean, what a dog! There wasn’t anything he couldn’t destroy: my dad’s rec room walls, clothing, shoes, and seat belts… if you left him alone in the car, even for a minute.

Before we were married, my wife and I were visiting relatives in Detroit and someone said there was this fabulous greyhound for sale. Cool! We decided to check it out.

“Why do you call him First?” I asked the owner.

“Well”, came the reply, “before he retired from the track, he was always the ‘leader of the pack’.” 

Scanning the couch, where First seemed unconscious, it was hard to believe, but the people seemed sincere and with ‘eyes wide shut’ we bought him.

Asleep again on the back seat during the drive home, I remember saying optimistically, “Maybe that’s how the great ones are… you know, relaxed until the time of a race.” Nope! First was just lethargic – all the time!

Until… one day we were at a large sprawling park during a lazy summer afternoon, when something caught his interest. I can still see him … stretched out in full flight … like the Greyhound bus logo. Covering the park in seconds, First was born to run and be happy.

And people, no matter what they do, also want happiness… but how?

“Once I rose above the noise and confusion/ Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion”Carry on My Wayward Son by Kansas

Scientifically, MRI studies – detecting chemical releases in the brain – have shown we’re naturally happy when just  contemplating helping others.

Spiritually, the Dalai Lama says, “We should implement the teachings of compassion, tolerance and forgiveness in our life to be happy.”

And, I’ve found happiness begins by realizing that whatever good we’ve done, it’ll never measure up to what we’ve been given: life. So, it only seems right to count our blessings and use our talents to give something back. Yet, it’s disheartening to know I could be: more forgiving, loving, generous, and disciplined… less critical and self-absorbed.

“You gotta get it right, while you got the time/
You can’t close your, your mind!”
– Man in the Mirrorby Michael Jackson

Beauty & Grace

Surveys show we’re no happier today than 50 years ago – despite being twice as affluent. Why? Well, before the past year drifts too far away in our memory, what were your most satisfying moments? Maybe an outstanding community achievement, or perhaps some little thing you did to help someone. I like to see these experiences as snapshots in time – like that Greyhound image – catching us in full flight, being happy.

No time? Time guru Stephen Covey reminded us that we can say “no” to so many distractions, by having a sense of destination that says “yes” to things that matter most.

“You fill up my senses, come fill me again” – Annie’s Song by John Denver

Aha! We’re not perfect? Perfection’s not necessary for happy endings.

Fred Parry
www.fredparry.ca Feb 2014

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