One of the surest ways to be happy is to feel good about ourselves. I know from experience that when I am kind to others, my spirits rise. So, I figure behaving well is a ticket to happiness.
However, I haven’t always done so. When I was 15 and living on my own, I used to steal toilet paper from a hospital across from where I lived, which was an Edwardian house converted into a rooming house. I justified this by telling myself that life had treated me unfairly and I had the right to even things out – sort of like Jean Valjean in Les Misérables who feels that life had handed him a bad hand so he feels justified to steal a loaf of bread.
I’ve also noticed that when people are tempted to do harm to others for their own gain, they have a tendency to vilify the other person. A person who wants to have an affair will tend to pick a fight with their spouse to justify having the affair. But we know that in every sin is the seed of its own punishment. The man having a affair suddenly finds himself worrying that his wife might be unfaithful. Also, we can guess that people who accuse others of stealing are not honest themselves. What we hate in others is what we have to address in ourselves.
So, rather than focus on the negative, why not focus on the positive? This sounds cliché, but usually clichés are so because they’re true. It is also true that on the path to being kind to others we sometimes fail. But the times that we succeed are such a boost to our spirits that we crave that high again – the feeling that says, “I’m at peace with the world.” Every interaction with others is a chance to be kind, to give a compliment, or a hand up. So, I’m going to look for opportunities to be thoughtful to my fellow humans. It’s an inexpensive way to bring more happiness into my life.
Manon is a resident of Boyle Street and an active volunteer in the community. This column contains her own opinions, and is not affiliated with the Boyle Street Community League.