I'm sure everyone – or almost everyone – is familiar with this old quip: A horse walks into a bar, the bartender says, "Hey Buddy, why the long face?" I've always gotten a chuckle out of that one, but then again, I'm a simple girl.
The sad thing is nowadays a lot of people are walking around (or driving, God help us all) with long faces. They're gloomy or angry or just plain annoyed. I really don't know why that is, but it is. Hostility abounds. For the most part, life has never been easier (even in these 'tough' times), and yet people seem to be at their wit's end on a short fuse.
I think part of the problem may be this weird state of celebrity worship that seems to have overtaken our society. In spite of some to vilify the wealthy, it's still okay to revere the life styles of the rich and famous. Tabloids are filled with every last detail of the goings-on of these famous folks and for up-to-the-minute, nitty-gritty minutia you can follow them on Twitter. (I've asked this before, but does anyone else find it as befitting as I do that the root word of Twitter is twit? No? Okay.)
This is all fine and dandy except for the fact that I think a lot of people measure their lives by the celebrity yardstick. It's not practical and, let's face it, for your average run-of-the-mill schmo, it's not attainable. As a result, people bitterly walk around feeling as if they've been screwed over somehow. Not that anyone's responsible for their own choices in life – heaven forbid.
I believe this is why so many today are on prescription drugs. A recent article in USA Today reported that use of anti-depressants has skyrocketed nearly 400% since the late 80s. 400%! Everyone wants to walk around in a carefree state of bliss as if it were their birthday. Yippee, hooray for me! Unfortunately that's not realistic; and it's my opinion that all these drugs actually make things worse.
I listen to a Christian rock station in my car (if you want to be naturally uplifted, check out K-Love, it's all over the country). I was shocked to hear that since the year began, they have received 167 suicide callers – that's more than one per day – 167 people seriously contemplating taking their own lives. Luckily these folks called in and got a glimmer of God's hope and regained their will to live.
I don't know what people go through that makes them feel death is the only option. I can't imagine. I'm grateful for my life – not that it's been without its ups and downs, but I feel blessed. Someone, or a really good fortune cookie, once said, "The roots grow deep when the wind blows strong." I think that's true – a little adversity makes us stronger. You can't have light without the dark. You can't have good without the bad. And you can't have joy without some sadness. Columnist Regina Brett summed it up nicely in a piece she did on Life's Lessons: No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
I think happiness can be a choice. My advice to the downtrodden is this: stop the pills, turn off the devices and don't worry about the Joneses. Assess your life, take stock of all that's good and be grateful for the little things – of which there are many. Be kind to others and kindness will come back to you.
Life is short. Spend your time smiling, not frowning.