Being Grateful & Being a “Happy Person”
“The key to being happy is knowing you have the power to choose what to accept and what to let go”
Amid all of this COVID-19 ordeal, I’ve found myself being just a rollercoaster of emotions and feelings. We all know that this virus is real…well at least to some extent we know that there is a virus going around, we know people are getting sick, we know there are some people dying from it. What’s real after that, I’m going to say is anybody’s pick, because it depends upon which news channel you watch.
It’s very weird, because depending upon which news channel you watch, you can come away with (2) very different attitudes. You’re either sure that everyone is going to die if we leave the house…ever, or “it’s no problem, go do your thing boo”. “Everything’s going to be just fine…the Democrats did it!” That’s a bit extreme either way, but sheesh, that’s how the media is making me feel these days!
I have to say also that those are the days I’m a bit edgy. I’ve found I have a bit of an underlying “grouchiness” to my demeanor when I try to research the truth. I don’t even know why. I just know that after trying to educate myself on what is a serious matter, I don’t really come away with any new information, I just come away discouraged and a bit tee’d off. Probably justifiable as the media no longer “reports” news, they “make” news and the juicier they “Make” it, the better.
Well when I sit down and truly analyze and try to find out the “why”, I keep getting down to one thing.
“I’m allowing something that I did not start and cannot do anything about, affect my own personal happiness.”
So then, I got to thinking that there must be tons of other people that are being affected in the same way…which I’m positive there are. Although the situation we are all in IS frustrating, confusing, and scary, it still should not determine whether we can maintain our “cool” and it should not steer us away from being generally happy with our lives. No, not happy about the situation across the nation, happy with…you know, yourself. It might be the only thing we can truly control at this point in our lives and for the upcoming months to come.
How do I even know what happiness is?
Does this mean I don’t ever get mad or sad?
…Let’s go down that rabbit hole, shall we?
My first bit of advice: Anyone that hasn’t listened to it, immediately go listen to LITTLE BIG TOWN’S song “Happy People”. Let me tell you what, that song speaks to my soul and is truly the epitome of what I strive for each day. I’m telling you, listen to the words and you’ll get what I’m writing about today.
A good verse in that particular song goes something like this; “You can’t buy it, you have to make it. You can’t get it by taking someone else’s away”. It’s so true.
What is happiness as it pertains to people and how do I get it and keep it?
What experts are saying on how a lot of people are living today is through “Impact Bias”. This is the notion that major life events will dictate the amount of happiness or sadness you have in your life. For example: “If I just get that new job, I can be happy. That new house is sure to be the ticket to happiness.” The reality is though, these are fleeting and cannot be duplicated and/or repeated over and over, so you eventually have to return to what your “normal” is. So, to follow that thought, you have to make your “normal” enough to make you feel satisfied and basically a happy person.
Happiness is actually created through daily habits that you can repeat day in/day out. I’ve went out and researched a few of my favorites. Try them out, if you aren’t already doing them, and see how they work for you.
Any kind of 10-minute exercise helps your system release the “feel good” chemicals in your body. These are called GABA – they are neurotransmitters that go off after exercise. To be technical, they are called Glutamate And Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). I prefer calling them “feel good” chemicals. Don’t you? When released, they sooth your brain and help keep you in control of your impulses and improve your mood. Exercise regularly and you’ll find that you feel generally better for a longer amount of time. GABA! Simple, no?
- Positivity – the practice of being or tendency to be positive or optimistic in attitude.
“pupils draw power from the positivity of their teachers”
- the presence rather than absence of a certain substance, condition, or feature.
“the first biopsy specimen demonstrated positivity for cytokeratin”
Wow, that’s some large words with even larger brain definitions. Now, I’m not saying you smile and wave at every single bad thing that comes along. That’s just not possible and frankly would be a bit ignorant…okay, a LOT ignorant.
Bad things happen to everyone once in a while, even happy people. Here’s the skinny, though. Happy people acknowledge what happened, take a mental inventory of everything, and then take steps both mentally and physically to either move on, move over or move through the situation. They don’t blame others for their situation. They don’t wait for others to pull them out of their situation. They find the best solution available to the problem at hand, tackle it and move on. That’s it. There’s no more. NO dwelling on it, no constantly complaining about it. Move the “eff” along. And, to quote a semi-famous PSI leader and what he says when a situation’s been handled, and someone wants to re-hash it… “nothing more to see here!” ‘Nuff, said.
They Help Others
You know that time you stopped to help that old man/woman along side the road change their flat tire? When you were done and they tried to pay you, and you refused? Didn’t that feel good? Heck yeah! That was someone’s gramma or grandpa, and you’d want someone to help yours if that happened, so it’s only the right thing to do. Plus, it makes you feel gooooood! Here’s where those dang chemicals come into play again. Did you know that helping other people gives your body a surge of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine? I’ll forgo the clinical definitions and just call them “feel good” chemicals again. …and you’re welcome!
Helping others will ALWAYS have a positive influence on your mood, as long as you are NOT overcommitting yourself in doing it. Stressing yourself out by overbooking charity events without some time for yourself & your family, is contradictory to supporting your “happy”, so don’t do it. Do what you can when you can. It’s that simple.
Have a Growth Mindset
Have a whichy, whatty? It’s called a “GROWTH MINDSET”. People can be put into two categories: Fixed Mindset or Growth Mindset.
A Fixed Mindset person goes something like this, “I am who I am, and I guess that’s all I’m ever going to be, and I’ll never be able to change.” You’ve just put yourself into a position that sets a negative tone for whatever you come across. And, if it’s a challenge that appears to large to overcome, you won’t be able to grasp what it takes to overcome it and you’ve set yourself up to fail and then, here will come more negativity because you expected yourself to fail because, “well, that’s just who I am.”
Growth Mindset people feel like they are “ever-evolving” and can grow and learn with every challenge or life-event and thus improve themselves for the next time. By handling and learning from difficulties, they now feel better about themselves, their ability to handle “life”, and thus are generally happier. These people leave Fixed Mindset people in their dust because Growth Mindset people actually embrace challenges and treat them as an opportunity to learn something new and “grow” mentally. Sounds much better than being that “other guy” don’t you think?
They Have Deep Conversations
So, I’ll start with an analogy for this one. Everyone knows a great movie has to have a little of everything. Some drama, some action, a little humor, touching emotion are all really necessary to have a complete movie story. At least in my book they do. Here’s the other very, very key ingredient; dialog, conversation, communication, the interchanging of words between the actors. You know, great script with writing that is meaningful! One can only watch so many “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” type movies before we need some substance!
Well, that’s what life and how our days on this planet generally are. We have drama, we have some funny, I hope we have adventure and action. We always have conversation. You have to if you have a wife, a family, you work, go to the store or generally go out into public. And there are different types and levels of conversation depending upon the situation and who you are talking with.
Did you know there are actually 3 clinical levels of conversation? Yessir! I won’t go crazy on them here, but here’s their level and the definition.
Level 1: Informational – simply a data exchange– no real intimacy, though you may find coincidences or overlapping circles of friends, interests, or background.
Level 2: Emotional/Personal — sharing about our thoughts, feelings, desires — our internal experience (a “deep connection”).
Level 3: Relational — engaging about what’s happening *right now*, in the moment, between us – it’s the most dynamic, rarest, my favorite, and the main focus of this section. This one is the “substance” level.
Actually all 3 are needed to get throughout our everyday life, because again, they are situational and that constantly changes. Here’s the difference maker, though. Quite a few people never really get to level 3. Whether they were emotionally stunted when younger, were never shown how to reach that, or just are afraid to, they never reach a substance level. They settle for mostly level 1 and once in awhile delve into level 2, but level 3 scares most people. Why? Because that’s where sh*t gets real. Good and bad.
Happy people know that happiness and substance go hand-in-hand. They avoid gossip, small talk, and judging others. Instead they focus on meaningful interactions, whether they are a happy interaction or a not-so-happy one.
Regardless of the situation, they engage with other people on a deeper level, because they know that doing so feels good, builds an emotional connection, and is an interesting way to learn.
Happy people know that all emotional connections don’t have to be positive ones, and that difficult conversations actually can lead to further happiness, because you faced a situation with someone, handled it properly and now you both share a unique bond over a problem that you two worked out as adults. You can now move on because you took a bad situation, resolved it and can carry on your day with zero regrets.
Okay I have just one more, so bear with me.
Happy people are Grateful
There’s a very famous line that keeps going around in my head:
“Have an attitude of gratitude”.
It’s true, because not matter what the situation, it could be worse. If you’re reading this, you obviously can read (80% of the world population can’t read at an 8th grade level). Could be worse, huh?
Find ways to be grateful and ways to cultivate gratitude on a daily basis. Giving thanks and being grateful for all you have will make you happier and more content.
Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what you have received in life. Those gifts may be tangible or intangible. If you take time each day acknowledging all that is good in life, you’ll see there is more good than you realize, and you’ll find that sadness, anxiety and depression are just not anything to take up a lot of your effort.
Gratefulness helps you exude positive energy. Positive energy draws people closer to you and brings out their positive energy and compounds those good feelings. Good feelings help us do great things together and makes us all better for having come together. The contagiousness of it all supports everything I’ve been writing about in maintaining that “happy” attitude.
Know that finding your “Happy” isn’t something that is automatic, and it, like most things in life, is evergreen, meaning it’s constantly growing and evolving.
Happiness is a state of mind, and ironically no one else can truly control that except you. So even when you think life is spiraling out of control, know that you still have some control. You can still control your mind, control your thoughts and actions. Happiness is attainable. It’s not always easy, but definitely attainable.
“When someone told me, I lived in a fantasy land, I nearly fell off my unicorn.”