It's hard to believe that 31 days of happiness, joy and mirthful exuberance are coming to an end. Now the challenge is to avoid wallowing in a pit of April sadness. I don't think that this will happen, as all of the challenge participants are on a smiling roll now. Here are my final challenge-motivated reasons for happiness, but I'll remind myself that I don't have to be challenged to write something in order to be really happy.
28. I'm happy for today's technology. I'm in the last generation that grew up without computers. My kids may have started with the Commodore 64, but my grandkids could use a mouse before they could write. I used a slide rule in my college statistics class. I learned how to type on a clunker of a manual typewriter (as fast as two fingers would allow), and was thrilled to go to college with an electric Smith Corona. But I had to keep carbon copies (Yes. that's what "cc" stands for!) of all my reports. I hated white-out, so I re-typed many lengthy assignments at 3 AM when I wasn't happy with my initial results. I went to the library to do research for my work, sometimes more than one to get enough references. I know that this is hard to believe, but if we had a TV, we had to get up from our chair and turn the knobs on the set to change the channel or the volume! At least there were only three channels to choose from! I used paper maps to find my destinations. I pulled the car over to make calls on pay phones. How did I ever survive my early years?
But I am now so happy that we have the technology of today, almost all of it invented in the most recent 25% of my life. Shane calls me an "early adopter" and I do tend to buy the most recent toys that are available. Laptop, desktop, iPod, iPad, iPhone, Apple TV (thanks, Ryan!). I watched my early Yankee games on a black and white TV that required that I stand up holding the aluminum foil-wrapped rabbit ears in just the right direction so Dad could see a clear picture. Now I can tune in a game on my phone or tablet. Satellite TV and TiVo give me too many choices. XM radio makes the old car AM radio seem laughable. I still enjoy sending a hand written note and some photo prints, but life wouldn't be as enjoyable if we didn't have immediate communication with friends and family via email, Facebook, cellphone calls, etc. Storing tens of thousands of photos digitally (even if we still keep albums for the best prints). The ability to correct a typed error on an iPad and reprint the page in five seconds, via wireless printer. The FaceTime call to see your new grandson rolling over for the first time or the video message of your other grandson dancing at a wedding miles away, five minutes ago. The Facebook photos to see your friends' fun in St. Thomas or Hong Kong or New York. The ease of ordering gifts online instead of driving to multiple stores. The ability to make travel arrangements sitting in front of your computer in your PJ's at your convenience. Reading newspapers from around the world, with just a click of a mouse.
Are there downsides of all of this technology? Sure, especially the anxiety that we can feel if we're not connected 24/7. The times we write something nasty in anger or frustration before "counting to ten", and wish that we hadn't been so fast on the "Send" button. The risk that everyone in the family can get lost in their own technology bubbles and forget to communicate with each other. But all of these are controllable with a little willpower, and the benefits outweigh the risks. I know that I gained productivity during my working years. But I'm positive that I'm closer to my family using the technological tools that are available today. I've reconnected with old friends online. I'm sure that my retirement is happier because I have so many new ways to use my time, that I couldn't have dreamed of 20 years ago. Now, if I could just figure out iCloud, my life would be perfect!
29. I'm happy that I have faith in God. And I'm pleased that I have enough judgement to know that faith is not the same as religion. A loving God could not approve of the things that the ___________ religion (fill in the blank) is doing allegedly in His name. God has watched over my family, and I know that we are blessed for all that He has done for us.
30. As we near the conclusion of the Happiness Challenge, I'm happy that Amy Bickers thought of this great idea. Every day, the tough things in our life smack us in the face, occupy our thoughts and exhaust our energy. It's unfortunate that we need to be challenged to focus on the happy things around us, but this challenge from Amy has done it for me. It has also encouraged me to return to one of my most enjoyable activities - writing. For both of these, thank you, Amy!