Reality…and the Yellow Smiley Face

In light of my last post on Happiness, I’d like to revisit this piece I wrote more than five years ago. It had been awhile since I’ve read it, and it reminded me that I can sometimes be quite cynical…

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We’ve all known them…the people who fill their worlds with yellow smiley faces, as they spout quotes such as, When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! while playing their old cassette recordings of  Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Ack!  It makes those of us who take on a more realistic, cynical approach to life’s challenges want to gag, because we all know that this Pollyanna, sugar-coated crap is simply to mask their unhappiness so that others won’t notice just how miserable their lives really are.

Reality takes its toll on all of us.  None of us is exempt from the pain that life dishes out.  Truth be told, most of us don’t finally learn the toughest lessons until we reach middle-age, though the journey has taken us down the same path many times.   Still, we keep blaming the journey, or the fool characters we meet along the way, for dragging us back down that road, rather than focusing on what we already know to be true because we’ve seen it before.

I’m not sure when or where I first heard the statement that “knowledge is power.” Over the years I ignored much of the knowledge gained by my experiences, only to step foot on the same old path over again, surprised when my “think happy thoughts” attitude didn’t change what I continued to encounter time and time again.  I’m also not sure just when I realized once I had the knowledge and the power that it gave to me, everything else then became my choice.

From then on…I chose to stay stuck in my ruts or to make tough changes.  I chose to continue to blame my circumstances or I acknowledged how my thoughts and beliefs colored the decisions I made, which would thrust me right back into more of the same insanity.  I chose to try to fix everyone else in order to divert the attention from my own issues or I let go of the unhealthy patterns in friendships and other relationships so that I could work on taking a look at the things I needed to change in me. It all came down to the choices I made with the knowledge I had been given by experience.

Once I began to look at the role I played in how I created my day-to-day realities, I noticed that I started to change– not only did I look at the world differently,  but what became important to me also changed.  I stopped the constant flip-flop between sour-pickle cynicism and sugar-laden optimism and started to enjoy the taste of a sweet ‘n’ sour realism.

The reality of life is not always kind.  However, to deny the lessons we can learn from it by living out a fantasy in “La-la Land” is harmful.  So is wishing we can go back and change what has already transpired. What we can do is grow in the knowledge and power that life’s experiences offer to us.  If we change the way we look at our experiences, then what we look at will begin to change.

And we won’t need to keep hiding behind those annoying yellow smiley faces.

(Author’s note:  Originally posted here Jan. 3, 2010.  Pulled from archives to update posting.)

Photo credit:  Public domain.


4 thoughts on “Reality…and the Yellow Smiley Face

  1. How true! Changing our perceptions is the first step in changing the way we perceive our world. We have to choose to look at our world through a more positive lens, instead of wallowing in self-pity. My first step was in realizing that we are ALL being challenged in some way or other – some of us are just better than others at coping with life’s challenges. I’m trying very hard now to learn how to cope better with the results of the choices I’ve made and with the random things that continue to happen to me. But I always attempt to view my challenges as steps to a better me than as roadblocks that prevent me from moving forward.

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