How to make happy happen every-damn-day? That is up to you. However, there are a few tried-and-true tips that I’ve put in my stash to make happy happen at least pretty often. The first clue? Don’t read this if you’re looking for something to make you feel better right now. Just as poppin’ a pill or taking a swig is a temporary distraction, there are no words I can offer that are going to make your life forever peachy. That’s not how happy works. Happy is something that you have to practice- something that you have to work at. It’s not so much a feeling as it is a perspective. Maybe it’s just me, but the only thing that makes me even less happy on a unhappy day is someone who is exuberantly (dare I say it, excessively) happy telling me how to be more like them. My knee jerk response to such advice is usually something very eloquent and mature, along the lines of “that’s dumb” or even the occasional “you’re stupid.” So, if you’re feeling a little Debbie Downer today, maybe(definitely) bookmark this one for later. If not…
Find Something Beautiful
Anything. The bright blue hue of the massive sky above you. The tiny little grubs crawling around in your garden. The fine human specimen you refer to as your significant other. It can be as big, small, lasting or impermanent as you want. Just find something beautiful and appreciate it for a hot minute. Sometimes we get so caught up in how wrong things are going that we tend to forget that we are sitting on a big ball of rock and water spinning in circles around an even bigger ball of lava in an endless mass of something so mysterious that we can only label it as creatively as space. If you give yourself a few minutes every day to look at your surroundings through new eyes, pretending as though it’s the first time you are really seeing it, you will find with time that it gets much easier to find something beautiful wherever you are.
Rid Your World of Strangers
It’s easy to hate on strangers. They don’t have names. They don’t have feelings. They are potentially the worst people you will ever encounter. Strangers are mysterious people walking around us like big targets for misdirected anger. On good days, we slow down to hold the door for a stranger, we let them merge safely in front of us, we might even flash them a smile. But on bad days, strangers are the worst. They drive like idiots, they don’t say thank you, they bump into us as we just try to go on our not-so-merry way. Is it really a coincidence that you only cross paths with the most horrendous strangers on your bad days? Or is it you? This realization struck me recently in an intense bout of road rage. For a minute I thought that the person I was dedicating some of my finest foul mouthings to was one of my students and my heart dropped into my butt. And then it hit me- this stranger may not be one of my students, but how embarrassed would I be if one of my students saw me- the crazy lady with the loud horn? Is there anything in the world that differentiates this guy with one of my students? Suddenly, that jerk that cut me off was no longer a stranger. You can get rid of strangers without meeting a single soul; you just have to treat them as such- a person with a soul- and things will be inevitably happier.
Write Your ______ A Love Letter
Take a few minutes every day to stop, breathe, and say something positive. Okay, you don’t have to actually sit down and literally write a letter (but you could…and it helps tremendously) but at least create a mental memo to someone, something, or YOURSELF. It could be as simple as “Dear Shoes, Thank you for not making my feet sore, I appreciate the work you do,” or “Dear Me, You did a great job feeding yourself some healthy stuff today, you look and feel like all that jazz.” Done. With time and practice, your appreciation for the little gears that make your world tick will grow.
Let the Sad Come Too
Suffering is not the absence of happiness. Happiness is your perspective of suffering. So often our suffering is compounded by the idea that we are alone in it, that no one else experiences the pain we carry. True, you are probably the only one feeling your own personal flavor of hurt, but you may find solace in the fact that you are not alone. To feel such raw feelings is a blessing, and it helps to compile a bigger, brighter spectrum of emotions. Without suffering, we cannot feel compassion, sympathy, empathy. What a truly mundane world it would be if our ability to connect to another’s feelings evaporated. Let the sad come (and go) so you can paint your world with the most vibrant of palettes.
Happy is as Happy Does
One very common misconception is that Happy people are just like that All.The.Time. I call bullshit. Seeing a person living their happy and saying “I wish I could be as happy as her” is like seeing someone work hard for their successes and saying “I wish I could be as lucky as her.” No. The only thing in your way is your attitude and your willingness to commit. Although there is a lot to be said about those special souls that make us feel warm and fuzzy, happy is not something that can be given to you; you have to be diligent about making it yourself. And while it might seem to come easier to some, it’s probably just because they have more practice. So buck up barbie! Go live your happy!