Don’t let disappointment steal your happiness
I grew up an angry young man, well into my twenties I lived with a constant anger raging inside me. That rage marinated inside me, soured and turned to depression which led to me becoming an alcoholic and an addict. I fought bouts of severe depression well into my thirties. Many of you reading this know this story, it was what led me to first research happiness, and eventually led to the creation of this blog, The Ministry of Happiness. I can truly say this journey, and the work I undertook on myself over that time, has made me a much happier person. It’s been many years now since I’ve had to live constantly with that knot in my stomach that accompanied those feelings and I’m thankful every day for that.
This last year has been hard on everyone, not only have people died and others had to suffer through the loss of people dear to them, it’s not just been about working from home, homeschooling our children. It hasn’t been just about wearing a mask, washing your hands constantly or the ever present smell of hand sanitizer. It hasn’t just been about not seeing friends, or not visiting restaurants or amusement parks. It hasn’t been just the lack of hugs, or seeing smiling faces or the deferred vacations. It has been all of those things and more that have made this past year hard for people, there has been an extra level of stress and pressure on already busy and stress laden lives. That extra pressure has unfortunately revealed some unfortunate things about people we know.
The truth is I can handle all of that, most of us can, we know this, most of us have handled it while retaining a functioning life. For me, as hard as all of that has been, what has truly gotten to me over this time is the disappointment I’ve felt in my fellow man. What this year of pandemic life has revealed about all of us, is what our true core values are and how we act upon them. This year has revealed in many ways our selfish nature as humans, our lack of willingness to be inconvenienced, our me first attitude. Honestly, what have people done with all of those hundreds of rolls of toilet paper that they hoarded over the last year?
I’ve never been someone with a deep well of faith in humanity. I’ve seen too much horror over my lifetime to believe the platitudes that are often thrown out about how people are basically good. Let me be clear, I’m not saying that there aren’t good people, there are, there are a lot of really good people. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen time and time again over the last year, people can be selfish, mean and unconcerned for the welfare of others. The default position for most people is I get mine, then if I have time, I’ll worry about others.
The only time I’ve truly felt a high level of faith in humanity was during my time hiking the Appalachian Trail. The hiking community and the community around and supporting the hiking community were utterly amazing people. When you’re walking for six months in the forest with no facilities, or the normal support, or the conveniences of society you have to depend on each other. Kindness abounds in the hiking community, even more so there is a whole community of folks who support the hikers in so many ways. The best of them, trail angels we call them, are people who just plain give. When you’re on the Appalachian Trail people provide food, rides, places to stay, I was even asked if I needed money from someone I’d only talked to for a few minutes one afternoon. These people do this just to support the hikers, sure they live through you a little vicariously, but they give so much. A fellow hiker, fully sick with Norovirus, was taken into a person’s home and taken care of for a week. This was a complete stranger who took an incredibly sick and contagious person into their house out of pure kindness and caring for others. So I know we’re capable of being that way. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Appalachian Trail this weekend, March 15th is the sixth anniversary of the start date of my journey that I detailed in my book Appalachian Trail Happiness.
That memory has really been the counterbalance to my mood this weekend. For the last few days I’ve felt that knot in the belly anger that I haven’t for so long. It’s all about disappointment, a year of disappointment has just worn me down. Disappointment in family and friends, disappointment in my job, all of it tied to the way people are treating each other, they way they’ve been treating me, the amazing lack of caring for others that I see all around me. My experience in dealing with the anger, disappointment and the depression I faced in my earlier years has given me the tools and ability to bounce back from this.
This week I’ll get my second vaccination, I’m about to get my first vacation in a year, which will include several days in the Mojave Desert in Anza Boreggo State Park, one of my favorite places. I desperately need this time in the crisp desert air, hiking under warm sunny skies and sitting around a fire at night under a curtain of stars. This is one of the ways I get my mind and my mood right. It’s important that we all develop these mechanisms. Everyone’s remedy is different and individual to themselves, but it is imperative that you understand yourself well enough to know what works for you and get it when you need it. So while tonight’s post is not uplifting, I hope you’ll take the time to consider what I’ve just written. Find the way you reset yourself, invoke that self-care cure when you need it, this is the one time I want you to be selfish. Have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane