I invite you to join me (in spirit) and celebrating 12 years of writing a biweekly column for the Parksville Qualicum News. The editor titled the original column “The hope and happiness business: New columnist to explore the mind and problems big and small.”
The words “Hope and Happiness” became the enduring header for my columns. This is a personal article about where I come from in my writing…
The underlying principle from which I write my columns is this: We are all hardwired to seek happiness and there is always hope. It’s all about your life perspective.
I grew up in Elmira, a small Ontario town a 3000. (Incidentally, author and Order of Canada recipient Malcolm Gladwell also grew up in Elmira.) As a teen I didn’t have a lot of friends, but when another kid (or sometimes an adult) was troubled about something they often came to me and talked about it. They usually left feeling better and more hopeful about the future. I knew even then that I would be doing some sort of helping work as an adult.
No one knew that before I lived in that community, I twice had been abducted and sexually abused. They did know that I had lost my father in a plane crash just before we moved there. They knew that we were bordering on poverty as my mother struggled to raise me and my three younger brothers. Then eight years later when I was 16 my mother was killed in a car crash in Elmira.
Inspite of the trauma I was a happy child with an adventurous spirit. My mother had introduced me to Norman Vincent Peele and Dale Carnegie at an early age. I could barely read (severe dyslexia) so mother read to me a lot. That’s probably where I gained my optimism and my love of learning.
I studied psychology and then taught it at the University level for 12 years. I was another 10 years in business before I began psychological counseling professionally. Although people never stopped coming to me with their troubles, I couldn’t see myself as fit to help others professionally until I had worked through a lot of my early-life stuff.
As an adult I have been knocked down many times by, among other things, marriage failures, multiple family deaths, including the deaths of three of my children, and most recently, a stroke. But I’ve long since learned to get up, face what happened and get back to the work of creating a brightness of the future. The alternative of staying stuck in an unhappy place is simply not acceptable to me, so I refuse to do it.
Consequently, when I write an article about very human problems such as grief, trauma, addiction, marriage failure, loneliness or mental illness, my goal is to encourage you to think about ways to get past those issues, to regain hope for the future when it feels like there’s no hope and to regain happiness when it feels like the unhappiness will never end. You don’t have to stay stuck.
The majority of the articles on this website began their lives as a “Hope and Happiness” column in the Parksville Qualicum News.
If you would, celebrate with me by adding a comment.