I have a confession to make. I’m one of those “full of sunshine people”. Yep, it’s true. That statement was actually offered to me one time when I was working (my day job is in civil service). One of our regulars who suffers from many emotional and personality disorders snapped at me, “You’re just one of those ‘full of sunshine people’, aren’t you?!”
My response was “Yes. I am.” With a smile, of course.
It’s not the only time I’ve been accused of being overly happy and positive. It’s a disease, really. One of my co-workers said to me once, “You’re always so happy! Do you drive your husband crazy?”
My response was. “Yes. Of course.” With a smile (naturally).
So what’s my secret? Why am I so damn happy? It’s not always easy. Sure, part of my natural make-up and personality leans towards the optimistic, but sometimes you can make yourself happy, or happier. How? See my list below. These are the things you need to STOP doing (if you do it), or things that can be worked on.
Some of my writer friends and I recently talked about our “works in progress” or WIPs; the current book that we’re writing. We came to the unanimous decision that our first drafts suck. They’re terrible. Awful, horrible, not even good enough to be used as toilet paper. But that’s why they’re “in progress”. We know they will get better with a little time and elbow grease. They may not EVER be perfect, but we can get them close enough.
We, as people, aren’t so different. We’re all “works in progress”. We can all get better with a little work and time.
The concepts below are simple in theory if not in execution. If you’re a naturally pessimistic or negative person, you might have to work at it harder, but I’m convinced anyone can do it (because I always think positive!).
Here is my list of things I see people doing that contribute to sucking away their happiness and preventing the “progress” part of our stories.
1. Dwelling on things we have no control over
I put this first because it’s probably the most difficult, for me anyway. This is because (sorry to tell you this but) 95% of things in our lives are out of our control. There’s really only ONE major thing you DO have control over. Yourself. You control yourself, your actions and your reactions. That last one is the most important. You control how you react to situations, no one else can claim that. When you find yourself in a bad situation, stop. Think. What can you change about the situation? What can you control that will make your life better? If it’s a terrible “something” that’s happening, allow yourself to feel and cry and rage if you need to, but then focus on what you can control and work on what you can, let go of what you can’t.
2. Letting other people control us
This is a tough one, too. And we all do it. You let the guy who cut you off on the freeway make you angry. You let that negative co-worker or mean customer make you upset. If you think about it for a minute, it doesn’t make sense. It’s not logical. You’re handing control of your emotions over to a stranger, or someone who should have little say in your life. I have a test for situations like this. I consider how long this person is going to affect me. Am I going to worry about the guy that flipped me off during a road rage incident tomorrow? Next week, will it matter? Hell, will it even be an issue anymore five minutes from now? No? Sweet, let it go.
3. Not learning from our mistakes
We all screw up. We all do stupid things, and make mistakes and feel ashamed. That’s okay. It’s great, actually! The true test of a person is not the mistakes they make, but how they learn from them. Have you screwed up real bad? Awesome. Own it. Feel bad. Then make it right. What can you do to change your habits or make sure you don’t make that mistake again? Do it. Someone who makes the same mistakes over and over and never learns from them will never grow.
4. Not finding our blind spot
We all have a blind spot. A blind spot is something about ourselves that’s true and probably not a great thing, but we can’t see it. Maybe our fragile egos can’t take it and so we inure ourselves to this one, great truth. I’m always looking for my blind spot (probably blind SPOTS, more like). Whenever someone offers me criticism that hurts, after I let myself feel bad for a bit, I stop and ask myself–is it true? Self-awareness is so important. If you can find your blind spot, you can be aware of it and work on it.
5. Comparing our journey to others
I did this ALL THE TIME, especially when it came to my writing journey. I have gotten better, but this is one I still struggle with. Stop comparing yourself, your life, where you are at with others. It will never end. Even when you reach the same level of success as whomever, you will still want more. It’s an unfortunate aspect of the human condition. The grass will always be greener. You will always want what you can’t have and what others have and you don’t. We’re like toddlers fighting over the same color crayon. When you discover that you’re judging yourself against the accomplishments of someone else, stop. Compare yourself to the person who YOU were yesterday. Their journey is not your journey. Maybe around your corner is something even better, but you’ll never see it if you’re busy watching someone else.
6. Choosing hate over happy
Don’t bother hating people. Don’t bother seeking revenge. You won’t bring them down, you will only bring yourself down. ‘Nuff said.
7. Letting the bad juju suck us down
When you find yourself getting stuck in a pattern of negativity, break yourself out of the cycle. Focus on something you love. Find your joy. Take care of yourself. Take a break. Go for a walk. Eat healthy (but don’t completely give up foods you love, everything in moderation). Be open-minded. Most of all, don’t be too hard on yourself. Love yourself, and spread that love around. Forgive people who’ve done you wrong. We’re all human, we all have blind spots, we make mistakes, we let others control us, and sometimes we choose hate over happy.
We’re a work in progress.