Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Candy Cane Cheers

Random Observation/Comment #267: Russian is very difficult to learn. I think I’m just going to nod, smile, and drink vodka when I get there.

I am a fairly happy person. If you think about it, there’s really nothing to be overly sad about. Maybe there are a lot of #firstworldproblems (e.g. waiting too long for a Galaxy Nexus to be released (WTF, Verizon) or my phone running out of battery on the train so I can’t watch more youtube videos), but these general frustrations don’t really warrant a full blown depression. Sure, I may want to cry when the game doesn’t save after beating a difficult level and then the game freezes, but it’s all usually fleeting.

I may not be rich or have a lot of friends or even have a really cool job, but happiness is not about showing off.  Happiness is mostly a state of mind. I was inspired to write this blog after reading “The How of Happiness” by Sonja Lyubomirsky. Okay, you got me. I didn’t really read it, but I skimmed the important parts and just wanted to share a summary of it.  It may, in fact, change the way you look at life.

“Happy people are all alike; every unhappy person is unhappy in his or her own way.”  True story.  If you talk to one of those cheery jolly fellows with an outgoing personality and a smile that never fades, they basically all exude the same contagious sense of happiness.  I guess some of you may just want to punch these people in the face, but if you talk to them, you’ll find they’re rather light-hearted.  They live in the moment and stay very optimistic about everything.  Even when things are bad, they’re solving the problem instead of wallowing in their own self-pity.  It takes work to be this optimistic.  You’ll probably need to rewire the way you see life and deal with situations, but your days will pass easier even if you’re hustlin’ (all day) every day.

In the book, there are 5 How’s of Happiness.  I will use her list, but explain them with personal examples:

  1. Stay positive.  I’ve rarely seen a happy negative person.  Negativity makes you paranoid or overly careful to embrace change.  Negativity keeps this dark cloud in your mind that doubts your abilities and stops you from making stupid decisions that may actually work out for the better.  Negativity usually prevents fun.  Be positive!  If you go to a job interview thinking you won’t get the job, then you probably won’t.  You won’t have the confidence to make yourself stand out and you’ll just seem timid and unfriendly without the extra charm that comes with a positive attitude.
  2. Pay attention to timing and variety of experience.  The book describes “12 Activities of Happiness”, which are pretty generic and straightforward so I’ll just let you read the book to figure out what you already know.  The important thing is to know what makes you happy and incorporate it into your day in a well-distributed timely manner.  If you have a stressful presentation coming up that you’re partially prepared for, you should treat yourself to your favorite meal or see a supportive friend beforehand to keep your mind clear. Happiness isn’t meant to be a constant state; it’s an overarching appreciation towards life when you step back and take a deep breath.  It will make you feel euphoric because you know you’re trying your best and there’s a lot to be thankful for.
  3. Build your support system. Happiness is contagious and usually best invoked by others.  Maybe you have a happy friend that can cheer you up or just make your day better.  Keep a list of the go-to people in your life that keeps your spirits up and gives you a balanced sense of fun, excitement, relaxation, and mental stimulation.  If you’re trying to reach a long-term goal, use the same support group to help you. Tell them about these goals and maybe they can help you reach them as a team (Wing man open for hire).
  4. Commit to your goals. I wrote a lot of entries about setting goals. I will actually post my year end list of accomplishments and goals for next year before I leave to Russia.  The point here is to figure out what you want to do, and then just do it.  Sometimes it may take a completion of one of your goals for you to find your happiness.  If you’re the type of person that needs to reach that salary mark or show off a new car, then that’s a tangible goal you can work towards.  At least you can break it down and follow some types of steps to reach that goal.  Work hard, but also have fun in the process. You’d be surprised how little the milestone matters.
  5. Habits. Happiness requires some repetition and practice.  If you’d like washboard abs, you’ll probably need to do a daily exercise.  The habit piece is really the way you set up your activities to reach your goals.  Make sure each goal is attainable and then break it down into a smaller subset of tasks that you can do every day to help you reach your happiness.

If you’re already happy, think about what makes you happy. When something goes wrong (life has a sense of humor like that), you’ll know what will make you feel better.  Health and Happiness.

~See Lemons Chipper