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Don't worry - Be happy.

© Catherine Ripplinger Fenwick

Thomas Aquinas wrote, "Wonder is to the cure of the soul what medicine is to the cure of the body." A sense of wonder influences our ability to live happy lives. In my book, Healing With Humour, I write about the importance of having a healthy humour attitude and how to get more of it. The idea is simple, but not simplistic.

One person sees night coming on; another person sees the hand of Creator painting a magnificent sky. Mark Twain said, "We're about as happy as we make up our minds to be." We really do see what we are looking for. "Yeah right!" says the person who is going through tough times. I know the feeling, I've been there, done that, even bought the t-shirt, "Don't Worry, Be Happy" indeed! We all know the bitter anguish of loss and grief. Being happy doesn't mean that we don't suffer sometimes. What's important is that we don't get stuck in the suffering and fail to see the beauty and joy that is there.

Happiness is an elusive thing. It can mean so many different things. Happiness can mean health, success, love, a warm kitten, or whatever we want it to be. For most of us, our goals, aspirations and dreams revolve around the concept of happiness.

I know a few happy people. They are people who know and like themselves. They feel worthy and competent. They are able to learn from life's experiences and think positive thoughts. Happy people have a healthy sense of humour. They readily share themselves and their resources. They learned to share their toys when they were children and can grasp the meaning of cooperation and sharing. They are capable of committing random acts of kindness.

Happy people remember how ridiculous they are when they take themselves too seriously. They can accept who they are and know that in the whole scheme of things they are not the centre of the universe. Happy people find joy in the happiness of others and are able to give and receive love. They know that their acts of kindness have a ripple effect that reaches far beyond the moment. I am grateful to know a few people like that.

Happy people are available when a loved one is in need. They are able to lend emotional and physical support when necessary. They can relate to the other person's pain. Happy people sometimes cry. In their humility they can step into someone else's shoes and feel empathy for their pain. They feel sorrow for another's loss, pride in another's achievement, and pleasure in another's joy.

Happy people have a deep appreciation for the gifts of the earth and have acute awareness of the interconnection of all living things. They admire the beauty of a sunset, the power of a summer storm and the peace of long walks in the country. If you want to feel better, get outdoors and walk in the sunlight. Vigorous physical activity and morning sunlight can put us in a better mood.

Happy people make an effort to be physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy. There is meaning and purpose to their lives. They have a belief system that makes some sense of it all. They love their work and love to play. They can lose themselves in the sheer pleasure and celebration of life.

I recently reread Eleanor Porter's Pollyanna. It's a great book! Pollyanna was a little girl who grew up in material poverty, but was very spiritually rich. She played "The glad game." No matter what was happening, she was determined to find something to be happy about. Yes Susan, I do believe that a positive attitude is the key to a happy healthy life.

In workshops and retreats that I give I often ask people to think about what they still want to do in this lifetime. People have come up with the most inspiring responses. Recently I received a letter from a woman who attended a "Sacred Humour" retreat. She wrote, "Since taking your workshop last year I have made significant changes in my life. For example .........."

This is a happy woman!


Cathy Fenwick is a therapist, author and educator. She develops and delivers workshops and keynotes on how to get more healthy humour into your life.

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