Friday, December 13, 2013

Exurberant Skipping: Managing my own happiness

I walk my dog Kaya several times a week. Most of the time my wife and I walk together.

Last Sunday, however, I walked Kaya by myself. As I walked along I suddenly had a irresistible urge to skip. So I did.

Now before you laugh skipping has a rich history as a great exercise. It benefits your heart, your brain, and battles osteoporosis. (Granted most of the benefits of skipping talk about skipping rope and not just skipping but I digress.)

So last Sunday I occasionally skipped as I walked Kaya. Now I am not saying that people were surprised, but even Kaya, our blind dog, wondered what I was doing.

Photo: Walked this morning with Kaya. I added random exuberant skipping to my walk. I'm not saying I looked funny but even our blind dog Kaya stopped and stared. But I did learn two things. It's harder than it looks. And you have to smile when you skip.

So I asked myself, "What am I doing?"

After considering this for a few moments I decided I was trying to combat negativity.

Let me explain. As I have reviewed some of my recent entries here I noticed a pattern. It seemed like I was starting to become a complainer, a whiner, a "negative Nellie" if you will.

Not that there isn't a lot to complain about. Our state legislature has been debating legislation that would require 3rd graders to be retained if they failed the state reading assessment. They were also debating a new school accountability system that would force 5% of the schools in the state to be failed - regardless of performance.

In the spring the legislature passed legislation that allowed any student in grades 5-12 to take two online courses a year - paid for by the local school district. No evidence was presented that this was a good idea but still it is state law. We have to publish the new online catalog starting January 2014.

Then last week the new PISA results were released. The United States education system took another pounding.

So overall the last couple of weeks have given me plenty of reasons to look at the world through dark lenses instead of rose colored lenses.

So Sunday I decided to fight back. Step one - skipping.

Happiness is a choice. No matter how bad the world gets I still have the choice. I can choose to be happy or not.

Sunday I decided that I wanted to be happy. Skipping seemed like a good way to start.

Happiness, for me, is a hot topic. What has been most appealing to me in these discussions about happiness is the idea that I can control my own happiness.

As an example, having a purpose in life tends to make your happier. The greater the sense of purpose, the happier we feel. The belief that I need to reserve my energy for me instead of reaching out to others will probably work to reduce my happiness. The thing that is most likely to help increase my happiness is reaching out.

So Sunday I decided, as I was skipping, that I would become more intentional about focusing on my purpose in life and less focused on the things that work against me.

And I'll skip occasionally.

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