I remember a time in middle school when my mom drove me to school. We were both a bit groggy in the morning and things were quiet until my mom randomly murmured, “Huh,” under her breath.
Then the silence resumed.
Naturally her muttering caught my attention and I asked what her remark was about. She explained that we just passed a woman she knew. Mom felt like this woman was insanely cheerful and over the top happy. She confessed to me that she had long since concluded that this woman was a phony: no one could really be THAT happy ALL the time. But, much to my mom’s surprise, that woman had just driven past us, alone in her car, still in her pajamas (probably dropping off her own middle school student,) and she was SMILING. After the initial surprise of seeing this woman looking happy when she was apparently alone and had no one to put on her pretense for, my mom sheepishly admitted, “Maybe she really IS that happy.”
Somehow my mom’s observation always stuck with me. I determined then and there to be a person who was authentic and genuine. I want people to know and believe that I am a person who chooses to find the happiness in life. I want that joy to be real. And so I practice – a lot. When I am alone and I catch myself without a smile, I quickly turn that frown upside down.
Sometimes I really am smiling off a moment of sadness. My husband has caught me in this state more than once. Apparently those smiles come out looking strange and contorted because he will look at me with concern and ask, “Are you OK?”
“Yes, I’m just smiling!” I think to myself feeling slightly put out. And to him I nod an assurance that I’m fine.
Quite honestly I have long since stopped worrying about who might see me or what their impression might be when they do. But I learned years ago that I am happier because I smile – even when I’m alone. In those moments I know that the smile is completely for me, and it feels good.
This morning I read an article that gave great insight on things we can do to increase the happiness in our lives. All of these things have brought me greater happiness at one point or another in my life. Most of these are things that I still have lots of room to improve on. But this list seemed valuable enough that I wanted to share it:
Ten things that supremely happy people do:
1. Happy people surround themselves with other happy people. Joy is contagious. People are four times more likely to be happy in the future with happy people around them.
2. Happy people try to be happy. When happy people don’t feel happy, they cultivate a happy thought and smile about it.
3. Happy people spend money more on others than they spend on themselves. Givers experience what scientists call the “helper’s high.”
4. Happy people have deep in-person conversations. Sitting down to talk about what makes a person tick is a good practice for feeling good about life.
5. Happy people use laughter as a medicine. A good old-fashioned chuckle releases lots of good neurotransmitters. A study showed that children on average laugh 300 times a day versus adults who laugh 15 times a day.
6. Happy people use the power of music. Researchers found that music can match the anxiety-reducing effects of massage therapy.
7. Happy people exercise and eat a healthful diet. Eating a poor diet can contribute to depression.
8. Happy people take the time to unplug and go outside. Uninterrupted screen time brings on depression and anxiety.
9. Happy people get enough sleep. When people run low on sleep, they are prone to feel a lack of clarity, bad moods, and poor judgment.
10. Happy people are spiritual.