Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson  



     Such a small little word, but so important to us all.  We all want to be “happy.”  Perhaps even more, we especially want our children and grandchildren to be happy.  We want them to do well in school, find good and meaningful work, and to be “happy” in life.  And when we have been sad for some time, we all think to ourselves, “If only I could be happy again.”  Hmmm.  How is it that we do that?  What should we tell those we love about finding life satisfaction?  I’m not so sure anymore, but there is one thing I’m sure of.  It’s not where we think, and we need to be careful what we wish for.
     One goal we all agree on (without thinking much about it) is that we would be happy if we were really good at something.  Most every kid in America would love to be a major league baseball player, a star quarterback, or to be known for a deadly jump shot.  Or what if we could sing like an angel, or maybe golf our ball like Tiger?  Maybe if we were a marketing genius, or even better if our kid became really rich?  And most people from my world have - for a lifetime - wanted to rope better than anyone else on the planet.  What if we could do any of those things?  Would that allow us to never have another bad day?
     I enjoy reading biographies.  To read and learn what makes high performers tick is a source of real interest, and after reading them for years, I’ve begun to see a pattern…
     Long ago, I read the story of Elvis’ life; the man who really could sing like an angel and about all the millions he made.  A few months ago, I read the life story of Steven Jobs, of Apple Computer fame – and his marketing genius that generated billions and changed the way we live.  Just lately, I read Hank Haney’s story of his time with Tiger Woods and the years Haney spent as the coach of one the greatest talents that ever lived.  I have read many others, and after all that time and all those words, there is the strangest thing.  No matter what they did, or high they flew, no matter how miraculous their accomplishments, in the stories of all those household names, I never read a word about…happiness.
     Late in his life, Elvis was asked, “As a young man, you said when you were grown, you wanted to be rich and famous…and happy.  Are you?”  Elvis answered, “I’m rich and famous…and miserable.”  Jobs’ life was plagued by contentious relationships, shouting matches, and all sorts of troubles.  For all his accomplishments, still Tiger imploded.  Howard Hughes died a recluse in a dark hotel room.  Michael Jackson died in debt and in misery.
     So what does make us happy?  According to Dr. Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology, (and a host of other researchers) there are some answers…
     Relationships promote our happiness.  May be family, could be friends - humans and animals - if we have connections with other living things, we tend to do better than hermits do.
     Faith helps us with life.  People who have some religious connection report significantly higher life satisfaction.
     Knowing your passion and purpose does too.
     Being positive is a key.  Some people say you have to be born that way.  No.
     Being kind, caring, and supportive, generates far more happiness than being cold, brusque, and aloof ever will.
     Gratitude is a characteristic of people who report higher life satisfaction.  No matter how sad – and true – your story may be, there is someone around the corner far worse off in life…and they are often heard whistling a little tune.
     Appreciation of the little things in life.  Here are a few that fill me with thanks…when the martins come back in the spring, cardinals, wood ducks, my dog, the horses, the barn cats, deviled eggs, tacos, and my wife’s barbeque sauce.
     Forgiveness – developing the ability to do that helps us a great deal.  Especially when we forgive ourselves for some wrong we can’t take back.
     It is interesting most of us can’t do extraordinary things, but still wish we could.  (I, for one, have always been a superstar trapped in a less than average body.)  Yet, even if we could, that ability would not make us content.  Having true friends does.  Faith does.  Good horses and good dogs do.  Giving does.  Love does.
     Reminds me of my old friend, John Redwine, when I asked him about finding happiness.  “The Lord meant for it to be easy to find, son,” he said.  “But we make things so complicated, turns out it’s in a place most of us never think to look.”
     “Where’s that?” I asked him.
     “Right under our nose,” he said.  “He put it right under our nose.”

                                                                                               --Michael Johnson

 Ed. Note:  In January of 2012, RFD-TV’s All Around Performance Horse TV, and Roping and Riding with Tyler Magnus, will broadcast the first embedded segment of The Advice Barn, a viewer call-in show hosted by Dr. Harry Anderson, with featured guests, Dr. Michael Johnson, and Dr. J. D. Norris.
The Advice Barn is sponsored by Total Feeds, Inc. maker of Total Equine, Dr. Harry Anderson’s creation of an all-purpose feed designed for the horse.  Total Feeds, Inc. sold thousands of tons of Total Equine last year.




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