This year 'Happiness' has become one of my faviourite conversation topics, and I've written about it a few times here, here and here. Since all my health drama's this year, I have become acutely more aware of my own state of happiness and peacefulness and also of the happiness levels of those around me.
I was chatting to a friend earlier this week on Skype (the joys of modern technology allowing me to chat to someone in the East of Africa for free), and he said something very profound for a guy best known to me for drunken University antics. "The thing is Lu," he said, "when you consider all the opportunities that we have had in our lives, it is completely our own fault if we aren't happy."
I have been thinking about this ever since. He is absolutely right. Any person who who lacks a basic resource such as food or warmth, is obviously excluded from this statement, as when one is fighting for basic survival, happiness isn't exactly on the top of the priority list. Although it's amazing how often those with the least are the happiest. I was going to put health in that sentence too, but after watching Joost Van Der Westhuizens interview on live radio here, I've left the word off. For anyone who hasn't grown up in rugby mad South Africa, Joost is an ex professional rugby player, who has Motor Neurone Disease. MND is a progressive neurological disease, that causes the muscles to waste away whilst the brain is unaffected. In this interview, he discusses how the disease has actually made him happier. He says he has finally realised what is important in his life and as a result is happier and more at peace with himself and the world than he has ever been before.
This interview and the conversation above really have made me think...And really:
The most important person in the World is...YOU.
Pretty self explanatory, everyone else only matters relatively to how they affect you.
The most important thing in the world to YOU is YOUR HEALTH.
I've elaborated on this before....here. Without your health, your money, your job, your house and your car really don't matter as much.
The most important thing after YOUR HEALTH is INNER PEACE.
The feeling of being 'comfortable in your skin'. I am fascinated as I consider this and look at the people around me. I think that we can all think of a friend who really has it 'all' in terms of what we would consider ideal in Modern Society, but remains self conscious, negative and often insecure.
And then the friend who really appears to be 'one of life's victim's', for whom there is always someone or something to blame for their own lives not being better or perfect. And after seeing this person, you end up feeling deflated and a little glum too....
And then on the flip side, I think of my 70 year old Yoga teacher, who radiates peace and contentment.
And of an amazing teenage girl that that I had the privilege of treating, who would arrive in our Physio department, being pushed in a wheelchair by her Father. A blanket, a bowl and a box of tissues always on her lap. The bowl to vomit into, as she did for 5 days after each of her chemotherapy treatments. How she would arrive in our department, with her big beautiful smile and ask how I was. If I had had a very busy day, and how I was feeling. In the six months that I worked with her, she never complained once, not of the pain from the cancer that eventually ravaged her body, nor about the vomiting that plagued her for five days of every seven. Or about the fact that she had to slowly learn to walk again, and to be helped by her family to dress and to bathe. And that at such a young age, she had to be concerned daily about what her white blood cell count was, and how the tumors weren't shrinking after each round chemotherapy...
Instead she smiled often, laughed out loud with her amazing Family, painted beautiful pictures, made grand plans for where she wanted to travel to and what she wanted to study at University. And she prayed blissfully daily to the God that she loved. She was 16 years old when the Cancer won, and she radiated more inner peace in her short years, than most people do in a lifetime.
And as the tears run down my face thinking of this beautiful girl, I hope that I am able to continue to strive for the peace that she had in such abundance.
Take control of your own life, stop complaining, start doing, hang out with the people you love and make you happy, be healthy and be peaceful...
Very emotional for a Wednesday...apologies.