On the Corner

Listen to this article

Now, listen here, kid

by Robert Docter, Editor-In-Chief –

Are you happy? It’s the only
way to be, kid.
Yes, be happy, it’s a good nice
way to be.
But not happy-happy, kid, don’t
be too doubled-up doggone happy.
It’s the doubled-up doggone happy-
happy people . . . bust hard . . . they
do bust hard . . . when they bust.
Be happy, kid, go to it, but not too
doggone happy.
(Carl Sandberg’s Snatch of Sliphorn Jazz)

It seems to me “happy-happy” people go through life without empathy, in an unperceptive state of denial, fairly insensitive to pain and problems of people around them. Then, when some personal catastrophe strikes and demands that they lift themselves into awareness, “they bust hard, kid – they do bust hard – when they bust.”

They fall apart. They can’t cope. They have no experience on which to base a defense to their ego system. They “bust.” The product of their pretending is hopelessness.

Their plans, manipulation of others, desperate drive for delight in a crazy quest for a new ecstatic life ends in failure.

These people find themselves at the far end of a normal curve of emotional awareness – oblivious to the difficulties of people around them –truly insensitive. They have little consciousness of personal tragedy. They have lived imaginary lives, completely wrapped in a tight, thick cloak of self-centeredness. Even their happiness seems false. Reality escapes them.

And when they “bust,” they are unable to find “some sweet antidote” to cleanse the soul. They discount life itself – as did Lady Macbeth who thought she could find happiness as the wife of a king, and, instead, found only despair. Her husband, Mac himself, found only a short life “signifying nothing.”

Life needs to be a balancing act – neither too high nor too low. We can enjoy peak moments of exhilaration and even dwell there for awhile if we are willing to accept the mirror image of deep despondency when it comes. Highs and lows travel together.

People tend to isolate when they “go bust.” They don’t want to be around other people. They seek some kind of mood change, but ignore their own capacity for resilience.

Robert Brooks, author of The Power of Resilience – achieving balance, confidence, and personal strength in your life states that “Resilience springs forth from our connection with others.”

Brooks identifies ten keys for resilient living and, in his book, explains exactly how each may be achieved. They are:

Rewrite the negative scripts
These are “obstacles to a resilient mindset. They are often patterns in one’s life that continually repeat themselves in the face of regular negative results. We trap ourselves in these scripts by trying to blame others for our own problems and dissatisfaction.

Become “stress hardy” rather than stressed out.
Be aware of your stress. Know how to relax your entire body. Eat properly and exercise regularly. Understand you don’t have to stay stuck with the way you currently handle stress.

View life through the eyes of others
Place yourself in the shoes of others. Treat them the way you would like to be treated. Feel with the other person.

Communicate effectively
Learn how to listen effectively. Complete transactions with others. Be mindful of the tone you communicate. Watch your non-verbal message. Keep congruent. Avoid refusing to let go of ancient stereotypes.

Accept yourself and others
Have realistic expectations and goals based on your strengths. Be genuine in your relationships. Hold firm to your values. Abandoning them will only cause you pain and stress.

Make connections and show compassion
Lighten other’s burdens. Understand how human development changes people, and, therefore, the nature of the connection must change. Know that empathy leads to compassion. Care about others.

Deal effectively with mistakes
View mistakes as experiences leading to learning and growth. Work at learning that lesson. Avoid being a blamer. Be optimistic – internally controlled. Understand the manner you currently respond to mistakes and work to improve it.

Learn to deal well with success
Learn to enjoy success and grow from it. Avoid needing all the credit. Foster the competence that led you there. Understand your needs to feel successful

Develop self-discipline and self-control
Recognize that self-control is the capstone “fruit of the spirit.” Avoid excessive, visible anger with others. Avoid acting on emotion. Think prior to action. Plan ahead. Avoid impulsive action. Accept ownership of your own behavior. Be consistent and flexible.

Maintain a resilient life style
Be committed to something positive. Don’t give up. Maintain positive relations. Love who you are, what you do, and others – especially your spouse. Assess your life and work on all the steps above.

If we can avoid the denial and as well as an inordinate need to kid ourselves into happy-happy feelings we will become more balanced, move more effectively toward our goals, have improved relationships, and not “go bust.”

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