Happiness & Grudges

Despite the dubious math involved, I’m on a quest to kick my happiness factor up a few points using a list from Mindful magazine. Really have been noticing the little joys that surround me but will refrain from mentioning all of them because that would just be bragging.

So, DITCHING GRUDGES was an interesting exercise. I made a list of all the people I held grudges against. They are usually front and center somewhere, so I didn’t have to think long or hard about it. 14 people, some of whom I have held grudges against for several decades. Nobody holds a grudge like I do. I know this. I’m not proud of it. But I am trying now to just stop it already.

14 isn’t that many. I figured the number of people who have done me wrong would be much higher. I have likely forgotten some folks. These others on the list–I’ve done a lot of work on “forgiving” each and every one of them. Many of them more than once. Forgiving works, for awhile. Then up comes the thought “If he hadn’t done that to me…” or “If she had only….” and I start thinking of the ways this person made my life so difficult and sad. And the grudge is reborn, like a weed in spring.

And you know how stubborn weeds are when you try to pull them out at the roots. But I did a good mental pruning of my life’s garden, and all the grudges have been burned like bad bridges. I learned a few interesting  things along the way. Like this: every person I held a grudge against had disrespected me in some major way. And they never apologized. Not even did they fail to say sorry, they pretended as if there was no need to do so, and in some cases, projected the blame back on me.

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So, yeah, I can feel that righteous grudge juice stirring. But no. Down the drain it goes. I’m done with that. What else I discovered: anyone formerly on the list who has passed did not make the last list. (And it will be my last list, if not my last forgiveness session.) It must be impossible to hold a grudge against a dead man. That surprised me. And gave me faith. In exactly what, I don’t know. The power of death to transcend and erase all the silly grudges of life? Or how about: What really matters at the end is not the grudges you hold but that letting go of the ugly stuff is an act of grace. In my case, bestowed by unknown angels, because I did no “work” to release those grudges as I am having to do with the living ones.

The “work” for me meant a long session of thought and writing and forgiving. When I feel a grudging thought pop up (and a few have since I started this grudge-begone business) I just think “I forgive you, and I forgive me too, for not being able to let this go before now.” Quick and effective. I can feel the happiness increase as the weight of those grudges slides off my shoulders.

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Another lesson learned while drawing up the (now extinct) grudge list, a few people I really love who hurt me bad were nowhere on the list. Probably we had an unpleasant verbal altercation or six. Difference was, those people loved me back, we talked things through, we made it okay. Turns out I’m pretty easy as far as grudges go. That delighted me just a little. I thought I was a way bigger bitch. Just don’t hurt me or hate me then leave me hanging on.

Truth is, haters gonna hate, I’m not always gonna be everybody’s best beloved, and nobody says I gotta hang with that grudge. I can be like a breeze and just blow it off. Done!

Happiness tip #3 is GET MOVING and I don’t mean out of town, though that might help some people. I am still banned from most exercise while my knee repairs itself, but I have been doing some easy floor stretches and other things that don’t involve my precious left knee.

Happiness tip #4 is GIVE THANKS and I know I can use some help in that department. Got any good ways to give thanks? Please let me know, in comments or email or phone call! I’ll post whatever I come up with in a couple of days:)