I woke up this morning from a dream in which my older son was holding a book. He asked me, “Why do you have this old book? You should get rid of it.”
I went on to tell him it was a book from my mother’s library and that the title came from an incident when Alabama was struck by a huge meteor storm in 1833.
My mother had told me that her grandmother recounted the incident to her children, telling them it was so bright outside that the roosters crowed as if it were dawn, and the chickens exited the hen house. Everyone awoke thinking it was time to get up and start their day.
Mom had quite a collection of southern literature, and I remember seeing the book in her bookcase. Often, I’d think I should read it, but time flies. Life is too short to do all we want. When my mother passed, I, as the book lover in the family took her books home with me.
The inside title page shows it was published in 1934 by The Literary Guild in New York. It’s a first edition.
With thoughts of my mother on my mind, I thumbed through the book, thinking that the older I get, the more I miss her and my dad even though they were not the easiest people to get along with—not with each other and not with their children.
My mother and I had our love of reading and of books in common. Unfortunately, she was a perfectionist. It’s not easy having a perfectionist for a mom. She had a difficult time being happy because life is so imperfect. Maybe that’s why I write romance, creating characters who, by the end of the book, have found their way to happiness. In many instances, they learned how to be happy. Learned? Yes. Happiness is a learned skill. Sometimes, it’s a choice we make.
For my mom, everything had to be perfect for her to be happy. That’s rather odd, because when I was a kid, I remember my grandfather—her father—often saying, “Folks are about as happy as they decide to be.”
Many times through the years, I’ve remembered my grandfather saying it. Maybe he was saying it for my mother’s benefit too?
So, my point in today’s post is that it’s never too late to learn to be happy. Even though I don’t read all the books in my mom’s collection, just having them in my bookshelf makes me happy and makes me think about the things that joined us together rather than the things that kept us apart.
As a writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about human nature and motivation. One thing that’s true for fiction and real life is that most of us seem to make the same mistakes as we bumble our way along the road of life.
If you have a hard time being happy, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.
1. Never take advice from anyone who’s more screwed up than you.
Everyone likes to give advice, but always ask yourself if the person dishing out the advice is living life more effectively with less hiccups than you.
3. Be patient with those you love, especially when they interrupt you as you’re trying to accomplish something you feel is important, but in the grand scheme of things, it may not be.
4. Spend your time working effectively rather than hard. Assess what your doing and how you’re doing it so you can keep what works and toss what doesn’t.
5. Enjoy yourself and your life. Have a good balance between work and play.
6. Change how you think about work. If you can think of it in more positive terms, then you may enjoy it more rather than dreading it. This is important since you probably spend more time each day at work than at leisure.
7. Always make room in your life for the people you love. If you tell them, “Not now,” often enough, they’ll go away.
8. Be patient and slow to anger and bite back words that may poison your relationship. Too many people vent their frustration and irritation on those around them. Words really can hurt. Words can kill relationships. If you need to vent, hang a body bag in the garage and get a pair of boxing gloves and go at it.
Embrace your life and everyone in it.
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Joan Reeves—Keeping Romance Alive…One Sexy Book at a Time—is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. From Romantic Comedy to Romantic Thriller, all of her books have the same premise: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.” Joan lives her happily-ever-after with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State. They divide their time between a book-cluttered home in Houston and a quiet house in the Texas Hill Country where they sit on the porch, stare at the big night sky, and listen to the coyotes howl. Sign up for Joan’s Mailing List and be the first to know about new books and giveaways.