Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 11/3/2011 [Archive]

Martha's Big Adventure - Growing Happy

Martha's Big Adventure — Growing Happy

By Martha Randolph Carr

There are so many ways to grow in the English language. I can grow taller, grow older, grow wiser but we never hear the phrase, grow happy.

It's more common to say, be happy and particularly to the guy in front of us who is frowning or lamenting. It's like we think the state of happiness can be attained at a moment's notice.

That's why the response we get is often full of complaints and justifications. Not just because there are some really good reasons to be unhappy circling the poor slob but because happiness seems so far out of reach.

Sometimes its just a dot on the horizon and being told we need to blink ourselves back into a happy state of being only increases the frustration.

But remind me that I can grow toward something and I can feel the weight lift off of my shoulders. I don't need to know everything today. Sometimes things take time and all I need to focus on is the step right in front of me. That I can do.

I know this all sounds a little simplistic and with good reason, it is. Even when I have faced some big, hairy deals in life like cancer or not being able to pay bills, having someone remind me to stay present was like a helpful nudge.

Life is about progress, not perfection so get moving but keep it simple.

Starting on whatever is right in front of me also shrinks life down to manageable terms and lessens the amount of time I spend thinking the world is about me.

If I were to go by all of the time and devotion I put into thinking about how to solve whatever is bothering me, I'd have to conclude that I think my power is rather vast.

My old philosophy was that if I had not found a solution to an issue then there must still be something for me to do. Prayer never occurred to me or recognizing that enough reasonable steps had been taken so a little waiting and seeing might actually be useful.

I would lie in bed at night running through my head possible solutions from every angle.

The consequences of all of my doing, doing, doing was that I stepped on a few toes, ignored helpful suggestions that didn't fit my timeframe and was perpetually frustrated in pretty much every area of my life.

Happiness was momentary and tied to getting what I wanted, the way I wanted, when I wanted it. It's amazing that it ever came together.

My happiness was tangled in all of the different projects, concerns and got-to-haves that I had cooked up for the day.

As it turns, though out none of them are under my control, anyway.

But choosing to be happy is mine to do as long as I'm willing to recognize that it's a choice, and that on some days it's easy to get to spot of happiness and on others it will only be a close approximation.

It's actually possible to feel happy without the state being tied to anything going on in our lives. To get there I have to recognize that I'm powerless over pretty much everything and that includes outcomes. Then I add in an idea that there's something bigger, for me that means God, who has my back and loves me.

That last part has been the essential ingredient for me to make all the rest not only come together but also start working in harmony. I'm not dropping the reins just out of exhaustion so that random fate can throw things at me.

I'm shrinking down to the right size in life where my powers are limited back to that small step, trusting just a bit more in the love of God for me and others and getting back to my life.

Sure, my happiness takes a good punch every now and then but the pain or confusion never lasts as long.

The old method meant my attention had to stay on what I was calling a problem and the new means no matter what I'm looking at how to grow toward the happiness. That's already a step in the right direction. More adventures to follow. Tweet me @MarthaRandolph and let me know how your day is going. Email Martha at

© 2011 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email Download Martha Randolph Carr's black and white mug shot photo.

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