Finding Calm in the Chaos

I’ve always wondered about admired the ones who keep a cool head in the face of stressful, sad, and irritating situations. Some people just seem so damn happy all the time. And while I envy them their joyful outlook on life, they’re also annoying as hell. I mean, just how do they find such unbridled joy – let alone, so much of it – when the world around us is so often full of noise and negativity?

I will admit that I still don’t know the answer to that. It’s not alcohol. I know that much. All that gets you is naked on a table at the neighborhood TGI Fridays, dancing to piped in muzak, and no-one wins in that scenario.  As much as I’ve enjoyed my spontaneous tabletop diversions, I’ve decided to explore the idea of joy in a much more productive manner.  And I’m taking all of you along for the ride.

What prompted this experiment in happiness, you ask?  Well, walking through a bookstore recently (of course, right? a bookstore!), I saw a book called Three Moments of Joy.

The cover drew me to the book if I’m being honest. It just looked happy. Contrary to my oft-displayed demeanor, I like happy. Three Moments of Joy is a guided activity journal, and while there’s not much to the book itself, the purpose behind it is amazingly profound.  It’s intended to help us focus on finding three things that bring us a sense of joy every single day. More than that, it’s meant to change our entire outlook on life and the world around us. That’s a tall order for a book with an illustrated bird on the cover, I know. However, this book’s motto… why yes, the book has a motto… sums it up pretty well: “What you focus on, expands.”  Following this logic, it’s not such a tall order after all. Even on the worst days, we can find three small moments of joy, thereby lessening the grief or the stress or the chaos. We may have to dig deep to find those three small moments, but… what you focus on, expands.

One thing I liked about this book is that rather than have all the answers, it sends you off to find your own. This book seemed to say, “Hey, we understand life is busy and chaotic. Life can be a struggle. Life can suck. Why not try to find three things that make you happy each day? This story is yours and you’ll decide on your own path.”

“Stop and smell the roses”, has always seemed cheesy to me. I just don’t have time to do that! But maybe that’s the problem.

As I said, I’m taking you along for this enlightenment ride. I’ll post my “three moments of joy” every evening. Although, knowing me, I’ll likely end up piggybacking a few together BUT I will be giving it my best effort. Maybe you’ll share your three moments of joy with me in the comments so we can truly take this journey together.  I mean, hell, if I can do it, as curmudgeonly as I am, anyone can. Besides, who couldn’t use a little more joy in their life?  What you focus on, expands.

 

Libraries, am I right?

Okay, so I know that I said I was off my book kick, but well, to put it bluntly, I lied. Although to my credit, this is more about libraries than books. Yeah, yeah, fine, I know. It’s about books.

As a kid, I spent a lot of time at the local library. Shocking, I know. The same can be said for when my kids were young readers. Quite honestly, nothing has changed. Walking into a library is heaven for me. It brings a sense of tranquility and excitement, if that makes sense. I do it as often as possible.

I’m constantly amazed at the number of people who don’t even own a library card. I mean, WTF? It’s free for goodness sake … free knowledge, free entertainment, free escapism. The question shouldn’t be, why do you need a library card, but rather, why don’t you have a library card?

They call the internet the information superhighway … well, the libraries had this down pat long before the internet was thought into existence. I’ve always thought that the idea that you could walk into an information storehouse and take as many books as you want home – for free – was just too good to be true. From self-betterment to the opportunity to explore new and exciting worlds, libraries are valuable.

In what might seem like an unrelated statement (but trust me, it’s not), if you’ve never seen 1994’s, The Pagemaster, I highly recommend it. Yes, I know you’re all adults. So what? It’s an awesome movie. I first watched it with my son and it soon became a favorite for us both, and then my daughter as well, when she came along. It brought to life, literally, the books we already loved so much.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve been known to watch it just a *cough cough* time or two in recent years.

The Pagemaster is focused around a ten-year old boy named Richard. Young Richard bases his perception of life on statistics and figures and risk assessment, resulting in a fear of… well, just about everything. Upon getting caught in a storm, Richard takes shelter in a library to wait out the nasty weather. A fantastical adventure ensues as Richard encounters the Pagemaster, three books – horror, adventure, and fantasy – who seemingly come to life (horror, bless his heart, is my favorite … I know, typical, right?), and various fictional characters from beloved classics. To avoid spoiling the entire movie (I will reiterate that I highly recommend you watch it yourself), Richard gains a new sense of confidence and fearlessness by the end of his adventures.

It would be easy to say that The Pagemaster is a metaphor for the way books offer excitement, adventure, and a new perspective on life that we can carry with us forever, because it’s true. But it’s more than that. Books let us explore worlds that we never knew existed while helping us to be more present in our own. They quite literally feed our imagination to keep our sense of wonder alive, and this movie captures it all. An homage to libraries everywhere, The Pagemaster captures the importance of books and the impact they can have on young minds (though old minds could benefit from a book or two as well!).

So, while it might seem a little odd to recommend a movie in order to encourage reading… that’s exactly what I’m doing. I mean, let’s face it, today, now more than ever, we need books (and the libraries that safeguard them) and all they have to offer.

Be Afraid… Be Very Afraid

I’ve been studying some self-enlightenment material lately – more on that later. But one thing I’ve noticed in all these books and articles is that many self-help gurus preach that “you attract what you fear.” Okay. Fair enough.

For the record, I’m afraid of Tom Hardy. Scared to death, I’m telling you. And money! Great big gobs of money. I’m simply terrified of money… terrified, I say! I shudder to think what would happen if I were suddenly flooded with overwhelming financial stability.

There. Now, we wait.