"Happiness is the only thing that multiples when you share it." ~Albert Schweitzer, a German physician and Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Several years ago I started having severe pain in my neck and shoulder. I have some disk issues in my neck, which a steroid shot seemed to help. But my shoulder problem had been pretty unresponsive to convention medicine. My pain was chronic and often a 10 on the subjective units of distress scale.The culprit: bone spurs.
I really was not up to even thinking about surgery. So, the physical therapist recommended strengthening my upper body. To a girl who never has even tried to do a push up, this did not sound very fun. No, not at all. But, I had to do something. My solution was to start Vinyasa yoga at Xplore Yoga. This type of yoga has many upper body strengthening postures. It was perfect for my goals. And now, I am happy to say that after just over a year of practicing I am completely pain free in my shoulder.
Being out of pain is great but the really cool and fun part about all of this is that I can do all kinds of things I never ever dreamed of doing at my age. Several months ago I accomplished dolphin forearm stand for the first time. I was so excited and happy and shocked that I could do this pose, I got a fellow yogi to take a picture of me in the posture and stared sharing it with just about anybody who was willing to look at it. I was so happy.
Then a funny thing started to happen. Even though everyone I shared with was genuinely happy for me in my accomplishments after my excitement died down, I started to feel this slight awkward feeling of, "Oh God. Have I shared too much of my happiness? Maybe I should have kept my joy to myself? People probably don't really want to know about this."
Whoops. Too late.
Today I learned from a listserv I am on that a study showed that sharing our joy or happiness is good for everybody as long as there is positive feedback. It may even cause the joy to multiple. A colleague shared a recent study by Nathaniel Lambert and colleagues at Brigham Young University as to why this may be. Their research shows that discussing positive experiences leads to heightened well-being, increased overall life satisfaction and even more energy.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Last year I had to put my dad in a nursing home. The process was difficult but my father has transitioned well. My sister-in-law just lost her mother-in-law and she and her husband had to move her father-in-law to a skilled living facility. The process is not going as well and is filled with grief and sorrow. My other sister-in-law is fighting stage 4 breast cancer, which has moved into her lung. We are all pitching in, especially my mother-in-law, yet the process is difficult for us all. Life is a process of beginnings and endings. I think the Buddhist say the only constant is change. In both life and nature, there are times when things move slowly and don’t seem to change very much. Then, suddenly, things change quickly. Moving from August to September, the weather changes gradually at first, and then it seems that suddenly summer is over. It is the same in our lives; transitions are as natural as the changing seasons. But often, these changes are not easy to navigate.
Life transitions are challenging because they force us to let go of the familiar and face the future with a feeling of vulnerability. Most life transitions begin with a string of losses:
• The loss of a role
• The loss of a person
• The loss of a place
• The loss of your sense of where you fit in the world
Any significant loss makes most people feel fearful and anxious. Since your future may now be filled with questions, it is normal to feel afraid. We live in a culture that has taught us to be very uncomfortable with uncertainty, so we are anxious when our lives are disrupted. On the positive side, these transitions give us a chance to learn about our strengths and to explore what we really want out of life. This time of reflection can result in a sense of renewal, stability, and a new equilibrium.
A life transition can be positive or negative, planned or unexpected. Some transitions happen without warning, and they may be quite dramatic, as in cases of accidents, death, divorce, job loss, or serious illness. Other life transitions come from positive experiences such as getting married, going away to college, starting a new job, moving to a new city, or giving birth to a child. Even though events like these are usually planned and anticipated, they can be just as life-altering as the unexpected events. Whether positive or negative, life transitions cause us to leave behind the familiar and force us to adjust to new ways of living, at least temporarily. They can leave us feeling completely unprepared and we may be thrown into a personal crisis, feeling shocked, angry, sad, and withdrawn.
Can love last forever through the ups and downs of life? Couples therapist Dr. Sue Johnson explains what it really takes to make a relationship work. This is really good.
Evelyn Schmechtig -Cochran