Mental Health, Motivational

Free to Change Ourselves

An ever so slight adaptation of a quote from William James.

When things are grim for Christmas in your part of the world, it may help to ponder an old Norwegian saying: “behind those those dark clouds, the sky is always blue”. The old Norwegians did not have an easy life through the long, harsh, unforgiving winter. One group of settlers died out, literally starving to death in Greenland, but even so they balanced their negative thinking with such a positive saying.

In olden times, a negative attitude may not have been conducive to a successful community. They may have had to put emotions on the back burner and concentrate on sourcing or rationing meager food supplies. Life priorities were vastly different and yet, all that time these old people were fostering self-reliance and resilience to adversity.

We can learn much from their attitude if we are open to it.

What do you think? Is action correlated with our level of happiness?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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65 thoughts on “Free to Change Ourselves”

    1. Bravery is a definite must, Laurie. Especially if we have our own personal demons that chip away at our courage and spirit. What do you mean face the dark times with ‘honesty?’

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Honestly dealing with emotions- that is a biggie! That makes me think of the many folks who hide behind a smile, or frown or spoken platitude.
          The whole world needs more of it and perhaps in knowing more real ‘truths,’ we might put pride aside so the jobs can get done, (despite personal bias). I see this as a big obstacle in the climate change debate.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Just wrote about this fake response of “I’m fine how are you? ” Which is what I should say…. Instead of actually thinking how awful I am. Lol. I knew that sounds ungrateful and negative…but that’s my life right now…

            Liked by 1 person

    1. You agree with this Athira. I remember reading another adgage: In action, anxiety disappears. I cannot remember the author, but the truth in those words left their imprint on me.
      It is the illusory and temporary nature of happiness that keeps us so hungry for more, don’t you think?

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Your comment indicates a strong sense of confidence in your own identity. You sound self- aware and also that you might have decided there is little point giving oxygen to negativity. Not a bad way to be, at all, TravTrails. Have you always thought along these lines?

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I heard feelings follow behavior –
    And I like the action point about reminding us to do our part

    I just don’t like the word happiness – it seems to be subjective in defining and then can be so up and down (happiness based on happenings)
    And the positive psychology folks have gotten away fro
    The term – when they were often called happiness engineers
    But over the past 15 to 20 years they have opted for words like flourish, thrive, and joy

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Those few words are great for more detailed descriptors for the generic word Happiness. How would we describe the word and the emotion that comes with it. It is very broad. A general sense of wellbeing doesn’t seem to describe the totality of happiness. Everyone wants it yet it can be subjective to define. If we flourish and thrive, we might logically feel happy, but possibly be unhappy inside.
      Joy – this seems more externally orientated, yet happiness an internal feeling.
      Happiness is not and I guess can never be static. It does fluctuate markedly from day to day, even minute to minute at times with the ebb and flow of daily life and the challenges and elations that come our way.
      Have you read a book called the Happiness Trap,. Yvette? From some years back?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi – have not read the happiness trap but it sounds so good –
        And I guess a lot of this is semantics – because my term for joy is this internal overflowing that leads to external –
        And another word I find is very “misleading” is the word positive – even though that can have some great definitions –
        Side note
        Thought of you when reading a book this weekend
        It is called “you can’t afford the luxury of a negative thought”
        Published 1988 and updated a few times and my edition was 1995 –
        Almost 500 pages (soft cover book I bought in the fifty cent sale and I am just getting to some of them still)
        And I thought if you because there are quotes galore – and it reminded me of your love for quotes (like that other book did in the summer)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh I hope that you will share some of those literary gems on your blog, Yvette with a pingback to my blog, if possible so I don’t miss reading them. And you are so sweet to think of me in relation to that book. I believe Russ Harris published the book, The Happiness trap which delves into our continual and illusive search for emotional elation, when we think of happiness. Looking at the net, it seems the book also delved into ACT, of which I am not familiar. I think the value of this book – given that I read it more than two decades ago, is that it assists us to explore our own relationship with chasing happiness and dependency on that “hit” of feelgood brain chemicals.
          Re: Negative thought being emotionally expensive. I have no doubt that is so very true. In my darkest times, I refused to allow those thoughts in my head knowing that it was the path to further despondency. (I was going to say unhappiness there but changed it….Lol)

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Hahaha – love how you used different words from the unhappiness – seriously cool! And maybe later we can talk about his the opposite of satisfaction is not dissatisfaction- another time!
            And that book sounds good and I bet I ha e been exposed to the principles or even parts of it

            I wonder if it also connected to the term hedonistic treadmill?
            Have you heard of Tal Ben Shahar? He is just so amazing in how he teaches and he has this cool hamburger analogy for happiness archetypes –
            I will try to find the link to the video !
            And regarding the post to share about the book – I will dedicate it to you – and I am looking to set up a mini interview for Late January or early February – let me know if you want to do a little question and answer
            Just sharing why you live quotes – maybe how you use them on your blog and in life.??

            Liked by 2 people

            1. I would love to do a written Q and A if that is what you are thinking, Yvette. Because talking about emotions is a complex area, it may be better for me, and I actually prefer, time to mull over my answers, in written form, if that is okay with you? The hamburger of happiness. That sounds fun! Tell me more! Yes let’s talk more about satisfaction/dissatisfaction too.

              Liked by 3 people

              1. yes, was thinking written!!
                that way we could do it in our time – and hey – there are enough “V-logs” out there – it is nice to have some good old fashioned words – lol – — and I think it will be super fun to do a mini – interview with you and then I can share about the book – I will email you and let’s take our time (and make sure it fits both of us) and short for mid to end of January but I was thinking four questions and replies and then I will share about the book with 500 words or less – something like that

                Liked by 2 people

    1. I rather believe the quotation to be true for me personally, Derrick. Doing something is preferable to sitting and dwelling on one’s pessimistic thoughts. If nothing else, it distracts from one’s worries.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Most times you are correct, although I’m sure that sometimes doing absolutely nothing is the best course of action. I can’t think when, but I’m sure there have been times in my life when nothing would have been the best course of action.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you are right. There are times like that, Chris. We might need to wait a while before jumping in and solving someone’s else’s problems too soon, if they are marginalized. One has to show confidence in another’s ability and stepping in too help when it is better for them to do it themselves, isn’t one of them.
      The quote doesn’t exclude happiness from happening in the absence of action. At a stretch, you could say that deliberately doing nothing ( with an aim) is a type of action.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Patiemce! Yes we do need to have patience and remember, when things are tough: ‘like everything, that this, too, shall pass!. Another Norwegian wisdom that relates to this topic. Life is always changing moving; it’s never static. Which is reassuring when one is in a dark hole and feels it is ‘always’ going to be horrible.
      Thanks ever so much for your comment and a Merry Christmas to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Definitely love this quote and also a reminder that action doesn’t have to be “seen” in a physical sense. It can be action from an internal place of growth like spiritually or emotionally. Even doing nothing as someone mentioned is an action of choice we make. It can also be physical action in the way of exercise or a positive action we take on behalf of others. Guess all my rambling is a way to say that action does bring happiness 🙂 Wishing you a wonderful and safe holiday season and here’s to 2021!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh. That is such a great point to highlight, Linda. There are many actions internal, external and on behalf of others that spark happiness. May we spread that spark around everywhere this Christmas. Thanks ever so much for your very welcome comment. Have you come across this quote before?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m not sure that I have seen that quote, but I do like it! A great reminder now more than ever 🙂 Have a wonderful holiday season…however you will be celebrating. Stay safe!

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  4. I think that action is totally connected to ones happiness! If you are unhappy with any situation, whether it be a small or large aspect of your life, only you have the power to take ACTION and make changes to ensure your happiness!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It seems that some folks are so accustomed to negative thinking they have changed their neurophysiology. It is near impossible for them to “just think positively. It is not their fault that they have ended up this way. It happens gradually with wound upon wound being exacted upon them by society. For them, they need to nurture new neural pathways and it will always be a constant and lifelong struggle to reinforce them as the brain chemistry selects the well worn nerve path as preference- ie. The line of least resistance in the neurons in the brain. Having said all that and framed within that context, you are right. A near death experience may jolt a person to switch on ir exercise those quieter parts of the brain.
      I wonder if that initiative begins perhaps, with the ‘will’?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. In some of the Christmas cards I sent out I mentioned that we are all receiving the gift of adaptability and resilience this year. Hopefully we use that gift well. Times will always have hard moments that challenge our character. Something I know a lot about. How we handle these times speaks volumes about our character. Action in the face of adversity says it all. Get up and dance instead of sitting and wallowing. I have to face that choice every morning that I’m lucky enough to wake up. Good post, Amanda. Happy Christmas and New Year to you and yours.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do like these little nuggets of wisdom you share with me, Marlene. A gift of adaptability and resilience is a preferred perspective on the year that is referred to by others as s horror year.
      Our mood may shift when we look at problems through a constructive rather than a destructive lens. Many do not know how to do this and any of us might forget this at certain times and wallow in self-pity, sadness or grief. Thanks for the welcome reminder.
      Your fortitude and tenacity is inspirational given the health issues confronting you. We are so blessed to have you in our blogger community, Marlene. Merry, merry Christmas to you, and your family, my valued friend.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree Su, that contributing in some way – to the betterment of one’s society, family or pursuit fosters a happy feeling that you have done good, helped someone else to learn, grow or experience some enjoyment or relief. It seems there is some sense of satisfaction mixed up with that cheer. I would not like to think I wasn’t useful in some way.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Interesting notion and post! I do believe that we need to take action ourselves for our happiness. The grass is green where you water it. I also think it’s rewarding when you work towards something, it works out and it makes you happy. Also, for me it’s important to realise that things don’t have to be perfect in order to feel or be happy. If you can look beyond the imperfections, water your own grass, put in the effort and not be discouraged when things aren’t going right at once, I think that goes a long way towards happiness. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love how to put that, Sann. “Water your own grass. The grass IS green where you water it.”
      That personal effort and perspective can make all the difference as to how you see things.

      Liked by 1 person

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