In 29 years of counseling, I've heard it over and over again: "I just want to be happy." It's said with a groan, with a whine, with regret, with hope, with just about everything, including whipped cream and a cherry on top.
Being happy is not as hard as it's cracked up to be. The prescription is simple, but not easy.
That's right. Mind Your Own Business.
Which, it turns out, is easier said than done.
Consider these examples. In a recent Sunday New York Times, there were articles on an entrepreneurial yoga diva (bloggers comment on how she's exploiting the great art of hatha yoga), a private citizen running his own CIA (with comments on how he's playing different aspects of government against each other), a serious NRA enthusiast, and how to stop the proliferation of private gun ownership and usage.
We like to mind the business of other people. A lot. It's hard to maintain anything even resembling happiness when you behave as though you are in charge of even a sliver of the universe that doesn't belong to you.
Take Keith Olbermann's "sudden" departure from MSNBC. I'm sorry to see him go; I thoroughly enjoyed his status as a bad-boy liberal. I expect we won't have long to miss him, and that's not the point.
Does it affect my level of happiness? No, not really. The reason is because I know for absolute certain that there was no way I could have an effect on Mr. Olbermann's agreement with "The Company," as they call it. Why should it touch my happiness? Mr. Olbermann's happiness? Of course. But not mine. Not now. Not ever.
You see, I'm happy. I wish Mr. Olbermann happiness, but his happiness isn't mine, or most of yours.
What we do by over-minding the business of others is ignore our own. Our sports and television habits have made us vicarious, virtual livers. Celebrity reality isn't the reality most of us live. By focusing on the reality of others, we neglect our own and wonder why we're unhappy.
Minding Your Own Business is quite a task if done virtuously. First, the advice implies that we're being mindful. Applying our own minds to our lives. Are we paying attention? Doing what needs to be done? Showing up?
Knowing what's your business is crucial because it means you know what's not your business. Clear boundaries are recommended for relationships all the time. How about with yourself?
Your own business is what belongs to you. I'm not advocating that we not care about, say, state or federal government infrastructure; I'm advocating mindful ownership in places you can make a difference, not borrowing the troubles of others.
And finally to business, what keeps us busy, the daily stuff of life. Business is about getting stuff done: groceries, cleaners, T-ball, whatever fills your days.
I challenge you to put down all your 2011 resolutions and live one day M.Y.O.B. At the end of the 24 hours, take your happiness quotient. It will surprise you.
For spiritual nourishment, visit Dr. Susan Corso's website and blog, Seeds for Sanctuary. Follow her on Twitter @PeaceCorso and friend her on Facebook.