I hope you found yesterday’s post regarding Forgiveness and Flexibility to be helpful. If you just joined this journey, be sure to take the time to go back and read from the beginning. Without delay, let’s get to it and discuss the letter “G”.
Giving and Grieving
On those days when your mood is dampened, what can you do? That’s what we’ve been exploring in this alphabet journey. Have you ever considered the real benefits of giving? We’re talking about giving of your time, yourself, your talents, your knowledge and maybe even your own possessions.
I’m guessing you have heard the widely popular term, “Pay it Forward?” Wikipedia defines this as, “an expression for describing the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor.”
How about the phrase, “A Random Act of Kindness?” If we reference Wikipedia again, it states that it is, “a non-premeditated, inconsistent action designed to offer kindness towards the outside world.”
In my humble opinion, those two catchy phrases embody the essence of giving. What happens when you unselfishly, without prior planning or preparation, and willingly offer something to a complete stranger? You feel fabulous! This is especially true when you can witness the immediate gratitude expressed on the other person’s face. What a feeling, both for you and for them!
The act of giving is not quantified. In other words, you can’t measure your gift, nor can you compare it to another’s. In my life, even through the years with the lowest financial means, I can always find a way to give. Too often we think about giving as dollars and cents. That is only one way to give and not always feasible.
What if, instead, you thought about an act of giving as allowing those two cars to pull out onto the road in front of you, before the street light turns green. Wow! You just made their day. How about the individual sitting in a wheelchair who is looking at an object on the top shelf they can’t reach. Without being asked, you retrieve it for them. They are overcome with gratitude! What about the letter you received in your mailbox that belongs to your neighbor and you walk over and give it to them. They are so pleased!
How can these acts of giving not put a smile on your face? When you engage in these random acts of kindness, you will feel better. Your mood will be elevated and you will gain a sense of happiness within yourself. Go ahead, give it a try!
I know, you’re thinking what does grieving have to do with happiness. First, let’s examine the grieving process. This is generally referred to as the amount of time and emotions felt following a loss. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a famous Swiss psychiatrist, described the five stages of grief in her popular book, On Death and Dying. In 1969, the year her book was first published, her studies centered around the feelings and emotions individuals face while dealing with a terminal illness. Since that time, she has further realized that her stages of grief are applicable in many other situations as well.
Kübler-Ross later expanded her model to include any form of personal loss, such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or income, major rejection, the end of a relationship or divorce, drug addiction, incarceration, the onset of a disease or chronic illness, an infertility diagnosis, and even minor losses, such as a loss of insurance coverage. Even sports fans go through such a process if their favorite team loses an important game, and also supporters of a losing candidate in an election. (Source)
The five stages of grief, as defined by Dr. Ross, are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Dr. Ross proposed that each individual, faced with any type of loss must go through each of these stages. Recently, I read an article wherein the author, Megan Devine, a licensed clinical counselor wrote, “Ms. Ross identified five common experiences, not five required experiences. Her stages, whether applied to the dying or those left living, were meant to normalize and validate what someone might experience in the swirl of insanity that is loss and death and grief.”
When we think of the grieving process, we most often think about the death of a loved one. But, as mentioned above, experiencing the feelings of grief can involve just about any type of loss.
For an example, in the last three years, I have had partial knee replacements done in both knees. My entire activity level as I once knew it has completely changed. This is a large loss for me and something that was preventing me from feeling any happiness in my life. I’ll show you how this looked for me:
- Denial: “NO NO NO! This can’t be happening! Not again!”
- Anger: “Dang it! Why does this always happen to me? I’m not going to go through another surgery.”
- Bargaining: “If only I had done things differently. What if I just modified my activity? Isn’t there another way?”
- Depression: “I’m neve going to be healthy. There’s no reason for me to get out of bed. I’m just going to sleep all day. My life is pointless.”
- Acceptance: “I’m going to go join the local gym so I can have access to other activities that aren’t as strenuous on my knees. I can’t wait!”
When you are buried in grief, unable to accept your current situation, you are limiting your ability to move forward and to feel happiness where you feel sadness. I know none of these stages or feelings are easy to work through. Remember, I’ve been there. However, when you can work through your loss(es), you are opening the door to a lot more happiness. Regardless of the difficulty, it’s well worth the effort.
As we continue this journey together, I encourage you to keep reading. If you have yet to find your own how or why to happiness, I strongly believe you will. Please come back tomorrow as we explore the letter “H”.