Happiness Lessons from Grandma
A quick update on the project Days 2, 3, and 4 for those of you who are waiting with baited breath. On Day 2, Truman bounded onto my abdomen before sunrise, to which I said “noooooo,” rolled over, and went back to sleep. He’s a fast learner when it’s inconvenient for his humans and he has quickly learned that our new routine is to be expected. One weekend morning, he dragged me out of bed and I managed to put on shoes and sunglasses before we headed out for our morning walk. I followed him around the neighborhood like the dead guy in Weekend at Bernie’s, and was comatose until we arrived back home at which time I decided that I was empirically “still tired” and laid back down to go to sleep. Days 3, 4, and 5 have been easier as Truman and I have silently agreed to hold up our ends of the bargain. He does not jump on any part of my body before the sun rises and I let him drag me around whether awake or asleep to explore the neighborhood.
On my own quest for happiness, I have found inspiration in many moments. I also find that when I search for happiness instead of dread, I find humor in what may have been dreadful. Truman provides a fountain of these opportunities to make lemonade out of lemons. This morning, his dreadful, hilarious act of choice was to bound up to me on the couch after playing outside and drop a dried piece of poo on my lap. It brought a smile to my face and an outburst of laughter instead of my traditional gagging sensation when faced with all things feces-related. Don’t get me wrong, it was gross. But it was also funny. After a 5 minute hand-washing session, I feel renewed by an enormous morning laugh.
Now, on to Lessons from Grandma. What has been on my mind most prominently for the past several days since beginning this “project” of sorts, is the love of a very special person, my Grandma. Grandma is celebrating a momentous birthday this month. She would not appreciate me referring to the amount of years she has acquired as “momentous” so I will call this her 60th birthday to make up for my slip of the tongue. All to say, it’s a big year, it’s a nice mile-marking number, and her family is arbitrarily assigning a lot of meaning to it since we all adore her and want to have a party. She also happens to be the happiest person I know. That’s a hard call to make for some, but for me Grandma takes the cake when it comes to happiness.
For this MOMENTOUS 60th birthday, I decided that I would make something for Grandma as I have many times in my life. She has lovingly put up with these hand-made, heart-felt, taped/glued/scissored, mess-making presents for 59 years now, so I know it will be a hit. I bought a scrap book, and we were in business. But what to say? In line with my exploration of happiness, I wanted to ask Grandma questions about her own happiness. That seemed a little selfish considering it’s her birthday present. Instead, I asked my family members to tell me their “favorite things about” Grandma/Mom/wife/sister/etc. Most of them were food related, so I clarified. “How has Grandma contributed to your happiness?”
The outpouring from my family members was tremendous. After all the jokes were out, they said some of the most adoring, loving, unexpected things about my Grandma and it brought tears to my eyes.
“I love how she is always so happy to grow plants and show them off to everyone, just like her kids and grand kids, and how she is able to grow almost anything even if it’s just by throwing old seeds out into the yard. She is magic.”
“She has taught me that I can always be myself, not to be embarrassed of who I am, and to express myself. She taught me never to feel uncomfortable to be me because I’m supposed to be just like this.”
“She is the BEST listener. I will always appreciate that.”
“She taught me how to laugh until my stomach hurts! Her laugh is contagious!”
“She taught me that food can bring happiness when we eat it together.”
Perhaps my favorite response was from my Grandpa, who at times could be considered a bit grumpy especially when you catch him at the wrong time. Most of the time, he’s a peach, but he’s always good for a laugh.
Me: How or what has Grandma taught you about happiness?
Grandpa: What for?
Me: For her birthday. Just answer the question.
Grandpa: It’s an acquired attitude, for some.
Me: Hahaha! How did you acquire it?
Grandpa: I haven’t!
Me: (Sigh) Ok, how has her attitude of happiness affected your life?
Grandpa: Exposure. Being close to her reminds me that happiness is an attitude that some people choose.
If we were to take lessons on happiness from Grandpa, he would certainly affirm that happiness is a choice (for some people) like my Grandma. What is clear to me after hearing from my family, and knowing myself, that Grandma’s happiness is so powerful because it just is. Her happiness simply exists. She doesn’t preach it, she doesn’t tell you how to live, or really tell you anything. It isn’t dependent on whether you have pleased her or disappointed her. She listens, laughs, and does what makes her happy. Lucky for us, what makes her happy is being with her family. I feel a constant sense of joy and love in knowing that I am her granddaughter.
Take care of you and yours.