Monday, April 28, 2014

Be happy with what you have while you're working for what you want

That Helen Keller quote might be just the thing for a tattoo on your whip hand.

Who among us hasn't let frustration creep into the equation when we're engaged in something challenging?  The drive to move forward is human.  The drive to run over everything in our path is equally so. Fortunately, the race has spawned some wiser minds amid the rabble.

To start you off on a better foot today, here is a link to someone's list of The Best Happiness Quotes.  I'll wait while you read them.

Whatever you do after this today, why not start by feeling happy about where you are, what you have, and what you are about to do?  Imagine how much better your day will be with a little front-loaded appreciation.  Your horse does that instinctively.  It's morning; nothing ate him during the night;
he's happy.  That's not to say that there aren't cranky horses or horses unhappy with their abusive or neglectful circumstances, but even under the worst conditions, a horse always seems happy to see water, hay, sun, grass, companions...just another day above ground.

Little kids have a built-in joy.
If you can't find any of your own, go look for a little kid
and borrow some.

So you get up on the wrong side of the bed, can't find your cell phone, burn the toast, and spill coffee all over the desk, and from that auspicious start, your day goes swiftly downhill to the moment when you turn the key in your car's ignition and hear...nothing.  You've got dinner plans, and now you have a twenty-minute wait for Roadside Assistance to come and fire up your dead battery.

And tonight you're going to have a lesson on your horse with a trainer who is bound and determined to get both of you through a show this weekend with honors enough to earn her a new student or two among the railbirds.

Good grief!  Is there any wonder your horse is wound tight and your voice is shrill and your muscles tense?

There are a few things you might want to do to turn this day around, and the first is to take stock of your situation.
  • Do you have clothes?   
  • Do you have a job? 
  • Did you eat today? 
  • Will you have a dry place to sleep tonight?  
  • Were you able to look in the mirror today and see something pleasant about yourself?  Your smile, maybe, or those bright eyes your mother said were your best feature?
  • Is there someone in your life you can call "friend"?
  • Do you have hope that things can always get better?
  • At the end of the day when the crazy has departed and you look your horse in the eye, can you smile because for some reason known only to him, he lets you sit on him and ride the lightning for just a little while?
If you can't answer a resounding Yes, Ma'am! to at least most of those, there's probably something in your head preventing you from feeling the joy of the things you do have.  

Remember Helen Keller, whom illness struck blind, deaf, without much hope of an education in an age when "deaf and dumb" was an accepted category.  Remember what she accomplished in her life with the help of Anne Sullivan and a drive to succeed that was overpowering.  Remind yourself that she didn't start at the top and fly a smooth path to fame and happiness.  Odds are you're in a far better place today than she was when she began her journey.  Be happy with that.

Then see if you can't be happy about just being here...just a little happy will do for now.  If you're reading this, you probably have animals, most likely a horse or two (or five).  Not everyone gets to say that.  Not everyone gets to ride the lightning at will.

So if your horse isn't in the mood tonight to master the sliding stop or the piaffe or the four-foot vertical spread, so what?   You've got a horse!   And you've got tomorrow.  He couldn't care less whether he gets past beginner walk-trot work.  He's happy you showed up, and if you gave him a carrot chunk, that's gravy.  He'll be completely content with a slow walk around the property or a few made-up games in the arena, and there's no pressure from him to master anything at all.  You've got ample opportunity to learn from a peaceful species that there's as much joy in a blade of spring grass as there is in a gold trophy.  If you're not getting that, you have work to do that doesn't involve collection and extension but might give new meaning to "flying change".

Let's start with this quiz to see whether you are a "Maximizer" (those folks always looking for the greener grass in someone else's pasture) or a "Satisficer" (those who can  manage to find happiness with what they have even if it looks as if they simply have no drive to succeed).  I've posted about this before, so if you're not sure about how this applies to your life choices, you can reread that and the article linked there.  

Then let's move on to what your style is doing to your life and to your horse's life.  Somewhere in the middle is a nice spot for you to rest and just smell the clover while your equine partner breathes some sanity into the space that used to have all that confusion and anger and frustration stuffed into it.  If you're reading this while you're waiting for the AAA tow truck in the company parking garage, all the better.  Maybe  twenty minutes of quiet reflection will make all the difference in your horse's day too. 

It's the least you can do, and the most.   

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