So, here we are on day 18 of Happiness Happens Month.
I haven't written for a few days. My last post was about finding balance between trying to do everything and lying around on the sofa doing nothing. In writing it I stumbled upon a rather large irony. I realised that having accidentally set myself the task of writing a post every day of Happiness Happens month, covering one of the 31 types of happiness every day of the month, I'd unwittingly added a big fat weight on the wrong end of my see saw and was steadily slipping away from my comfortable balance spot towards my 'aaaggghhhh, panic, hide, freak out make it all go away' spot.
So I decided to redress the balance and stopped writing for a bit. I decided if something came to me I would write it down, but if not, hey ho, nevermind.
What have I been doing instead? Pleasing myself that's what. Amusing myself however I fancy; with a silly book, a daft TV programme or a visit to meet my mum's new dog.
Especially the last one.
I indulged in that last one just this morning. The visit went like this: 5 fully grown adults standing around/lying on the floor staring for long periods of time at a tiny ball of black fluff and delighting in every movement/non-movement, whimper, slip and shuffle the little thing made. Her name is Buttons by the way, not 'little thing'.
I looked around. Everybody was happy. What type of happiness is going on here? I asked myself...Amused, that's it. We are all well and truly amused by this little critter. Even when she's not really doing anything. Her mere existence in the world and in our lounge is utterly amusing to us.
(Well, to most of us. Lilly, her soon to be long suffering sister and existing resident in the family home, didn't find her in the least bit amusing thank you very much.)
The puppy's name is pretty amusing too...as was the day long debate that went on before mum settled on Buttons. I think the low point was when my brother suggested 'Twig', or it may have been my 'Storm' idea. Either way, it was all hilariously amusing.
So, I had my inspiration for the day and I had my post.
So I got to thinking about this whole being 'amused' thing. It ties in with the posts I've written on being playful and humour. But I think amused is a bit different.
Being playful is quite sort of active, out and out silly in a lively, physical, joyful way. Buttons was being playful but we weren't really. Unless you count grandma waving a string of plastic sausages at her.
Humour is specifically about something being purposefully funny, making and laughing at jokes, comedy etc. The dog is pretty funny to watch, but she was rubbish at telling jokes and to be honest her 'stand up' is more wobble over.
Being amused has a slightly more laid back, passive type of feel to it for me. It's not as roll about funny as funny is.
But it's also conversely a more active process for us the beholder. The thing in question isn't necessarily amusing, but the way we see it is. We're able to look at something that isn't innately on purpose funny, and see the funny in it. The dog wasn't trying to entertain us, but we found her to be amusing...we did that in our own heads.
Which just goes to show that a lot of this happiness stuff is in our own heads and we have the choice, the power to conjure it up ourselves. If we can make an innocent little dog just doing it's thing amusing (even when she weed. And even when I then stood in it with bare feet), then what else can we do it with?
Whichever way you look at or define it, being amused is a very handy thing to be. Being able to find life's little whims amusing rather than irritating, see the light in or make light of life's serious stuff is a great skill to have.
The world and the people around us (and in fact us, ourselves) are full of weirdness, silliness, nuance and foible, but only if we can see them and appreciate them as such, allow ourselves to be amused by them.
There's plenty of stuff to get all serious about and given our natural negativity bias it's all too often easy to get hung up on these so they fill our world and blind us to the other stuff. The nonsense and the fun. We need to find a way to take the boring blinkers off and put the funny specs on.
People often say "it'd be funny if it wasn't so...", or "that would be funny if it wasn't true". Well, it probably is funny even if it is true, you just have to choose to see it like that. In fact it's probably its being true that makes it so amusing. I think there's something about amusement that suggests a wry knowing sort of feeling. We recognise something in it...that's why seemingly mundane observational comedy about day to day stuff is so funny. Because we know it's true. In fact, it's normally life's crappy bits that comedians get the best material from. So if we can laugh at it with them, what's to stop us laughing at it in real life?
We're pretty good at laughing at ourselves after the event, so maybe we just need to try a bit harder to laugh at ourselves or the situation during the event. It'll probably make it a lot easier to get through it and move on if we do.
There are, of course, times when lighthearted froth and amusement, just trying to jolly yourself or somebody else up isn't going to work, and isn't even a good idea. If somebody is really down in some deep emotions, they just need to feel them and being urged to 'cheer up' or laugh at videos of pandas sneezing on youtube is really not very helpful.
But for all the other times, especially those times when we're just being a bit stubborn and ranting and raving for the sake of it. Desperately trying not to smile or forgive or be amused by anything (we've all done it). Just stop it, get over yourself and see if you can reframe what's happening as something highly amusing that you'll laugh at not just later, but now. I don't know, maybe imagine Michael McIntyre (insert your favourite comedian here) prancing about on stage re-enacting it in his next sketch. Or do a bit of a quantum leap and imagine how much you'll fall about laughing about this when you tell your friends later. Or imagine how funny it'd sound if it were happening to a friend instead of you...nice bit of schadenfreude for you there.
Sod it, even if it's not in the slightest bit amusing at all, just pretend it is. Fake it 'til you make it and all that.
Or if all else fails, just buy a Scottie dog puppy. And call it Buttons. That works too.