Compliments are so strange. We crave them, yet once they are delivered we push them away. It's like ordering a pizza and then throwing it out the window. Like many women I've struggled with graciously accepting and actually enjoying when nice things are said to me. The struggle continued the other day when someone told me that they liked how happy I was. This compliment stopped me in my tracks, because I've never heard anything like it. Smart, funny and devilishly good-looking yes, but happy? Not so much. Of course the kind words didn't sink in right away because I brushed them off like an invading tick. It's almost like we think compliments are fattening or dangerous in someway.
Later on I came back to the happiness compliment and allowed it to give me a proper dose of warm and fuzzies, but then doubt once again crept in (aren't you glad you don't live in my head?). Isn't it selfish to be happy? Doesn't it mean we are taking care of ourselves and not others? Isn't happiness one of the fluffier values that is nice to have but shouldn't be a primary goal? Dogs and kids are supposed to be happy, but grown ups not so much. Well to all that I say “fooie!” And I say it with a sock puppet on my hand just because I can.
Happy people don't start wars. They don't hit their partners (unless their partners specifically ask). They don't veng honk when someone cuts them off. They smile at strangers and let small injuries roll off their happy backs. I'd be willing to guess they litter less and recycle more. Happy people have the emotional space to listen and empathize with others. They have the time to stop and help. They have the capacity to appreciate beauty and the energy to share it with others. Happy people are just nice to be around. Their energy is lifting, calming and present. You almost wish you could get stuck in an elevator with happy people just so you can hang out and maybe learn their secrets.
Happiness isn't selfish and it's one of the best values you can cultivate to make your world and the bigger world a better place.
The happiness formula is different for everyone, but here are five things that helped me finally climb to the top of Grump Mountain and slide grinning into Happy Valley:
1. Making peace with the fact that it takes a considerable amount of time and energy to take care of myself and maintain my physical and emotional equilibrium. You can't make me feel guilty about taking naps and baths in the afternoon anymore, so don't even try. For me this meant cutting back on all expenses and working less and differently. It was also a mental shift.
2. Being hyper aware of how it feels to be around particular people and choosing to spend most of my time with other joy factories, while limiting my time with grump-o-saurus’s. Also making a point of connecting and reaching out to people especially when I don't feel like it. Turns out not feeling like it is often a defense mechanism that keeps me isolated and sad.
3. Committing considerable time and energy toward the creative things that I've always wanted to do. I think not doing your “soul work” leads to a low level of anxiety and grumpiness that you just learn to accept and live with. But it turns out these neglected dreams are like tiny, angry monkeys with sharp nails clinging to your back. They keep you agitated and on edge, even though you’re not exactly sure why. Once you get back to doing your important stuff the little guys relax, loosen their grips and go out for banana flavored ice cream. It feels so much better.
4. I stopped watching, listening to the news. Enough seeps in so that I still know what's going on, but no need to point a pipeline from the heart of darkness directly to my own heart every day. If I want to know about something I'll research it on my own terms and on the sites that I know aren't just trying to scare the bejesus out of me. I have a feeling being proactive like this makes me happier too.
5. Making peace my my moody pinata-ness. Some days are just gonna feeling like I'm trapped in a German impressionist painting and that's okay. It's okay to ride it out, maybe listen to some depressing folk music and write angsty poetry. Tomorrow will be better.
For even more research proven ways to get your happiness on check out this awesome post from Eric Barker. My favorite point from this point is that consistent little happy’s make us happier then a few giant happy’s. Helps to take the pressure off.
What makes you happy?