“DON’T CRY BECAUSE IT’S OVER – SMILE BECAUSE IT HAPPENED” – DR. SEUSS
In 1984, there was a U.K. TV commercial that told us that “Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet”. (I have tried a thousand times to embed the video clip here, but apparently the person who posted it on YouTube and stole it from wherever, would like to keep it private for some reason only known to themselves. Why post on YouTube if it’s private? And not even yours?).
If you really want to watch it, here is the link:
Anyway, I digress. The series of commercials – Sir Walter Raleigh placing his cloak over a puddle so that Elizabeth I would not get her feet wet and then her falling down the deep puddle hole. The parking garage barrier coming down on the head of a man showing off his Ferrari and flirting with a passing girl being just a couple of examples. The premise was that even under the most difficult of circumstances, as long as you had a Hamlet cigar, you would be happy. The background music was always the same – J.S. Bach’s “Air on a G-String” – slow, soothing, mellow.
Of course that was before smoking was banned pretty much everywhere apart from the privacy of your own back yard.
If only. If only smoking a cigar was the key to happiness.
Anyway, after the last couple of somber posts, I thought I would bring a lighter air to these proceedings and talk about happiness.
Christine Carter (http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/happiness) states:
“In addition to making us feel good, studies have found that happiness actually improves other aspects of our lives. Here is an overview of some of the good stuff that research has linked to happiness.
- Happiness is good for our health: Happy people are less likely to get sick, and they live longer.
- Happiness is good for our relationships: Happy people are more likely to get married and have fulfilling marriages, and they have more friends.
- Happy people make more money and are more productive at work.
- Happy people are more generous.
- Happy people cope better with stress and trauma.
- Happy people are more creative and are better able to see the big picture.”
Ha! Check out bullet point #5!. Coping with stress!. Well, you’re good at that right? Anyone dealing with FTD in their family or a friend has to be good at that.
The 14th Dalai Lama:
“The fact that there is always a positive side to life is the one thing that gives me a lot of happiness. This world is not perfect. There are problems. But things like happiness and unhappiness are relative. Realizing this gives you hope”.
Wow, that’s deep, man.
Deep but relatable and true.
Related to FTD – the multitude of problems it brings are never positive. But there are humorous moments in even the darkest depths of the bastard disease. Somehow, those of us charged with watching over the FTD’ers can find humor and hope. A wry irony develops which sometimes makes you smile.
An example – my husband had an old pair of cowboy boots that he had not worn for years but would not part with. In the middle stages of FTD, he found a new use for them. He filled them with large river rocks and put them outside the back door. Simple really – what else would you do with them? Some people might think it sad or offensive that I would find it funny. But his old, practical self was at work, albeit in a nonsensical way. It reinforced the fact that he was still in there somewhere. And happy.
If I laughed at something he did or said, he would laugh too because he somehow knew it was funny, but not how or why. That in itself is a little funny too. Maybe he was just laughing because I seemed happy to him. Later, it didn’t matter to him if I was happy. So I am thankful for that ‘middling’ time when all was relatively calm.
Relatively. (Back to the Dalai Lama again).
The very ‘normality’ of some of his ideas and thoughts almost made me second guess myself sometimes! He was so adamant that he was doing something the only way possible that he could not understand how it could be any other way. Hanging all his belts and ties over the curtain pole for example. It didn’t hurt anyone and it made him happy – so what the hell?
Eleanor Roosevelt said:
“Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product”
This is so true in FTD. It’s a by-product of everything else in your life. But mostly it’s a by-product of how you handle those things. Choosing to be happy whatever is going on. You can’t strive for happiness. Even on those darkest of days, happiness can be found in just being together and savoring those moments which you may never have together again – a new grandchild, Manchester United winning the Premier League title. Photographs of times gone by. Music. Movies. All happiness-makers. Just in a different way than before. Simpler somehow. But still of great value.
Looking back, I found a perverse happiness in just taking care of the man I loved for so long. I was privileged to do it. It was my reason for being here, I think. As hard as it was to do. As hard as it was to lose him. I feel that I did the best for him. That I made him happy. So that made me happy too.
I will leave you with a few amusing quotes on happiness:
“Happiness? A good cigar, a good meal, a good cigar and a good woman…or a bad woman; it depends on how much happiness you can handle.” – Unknown
“A man doesn’t know what happiness is until he’s married. By then it’s too late.” – Frank Sinatra
And my personal favorite:
“Happiness is like peeing in your pants. Everyone can see it, but only you can feel its warmth.” – Unknown
Light up a Hamlet. Who knows? It might just work.
- Alissa Fleck: Social Media and the Unmasking of Psychiatric and Neurological Illness (huffingtonpost.com)