As I was leaving Dunkin’ Donuts yesterday after my usual Sunday morning two hours of coffee, donuts (just two) and reading, I held the door for a woman who was walking in, smiled at her and said hello.
“How do you do it?” she asked. “You’re always smiling. Always so happy. How can that be?”
Background: she often meets her daughter and adorable baby grandson here on Sunday mornings. She seems like a lovely person, though she often seems to be annoyed at everything around her. She has that general aura of unhappiness. I’m not judging her (who am I to judge anyone?); it’s just how I’ve always seen her from my unique viewpoint.
“Well” I explained. Please know that I’m not always happy. Life throws us all curveballs; some more serious than others, but we all have our ups and downs. Life is…life! There are three things I try and keep in mind though.
“First, if I’m unhappy about something currently happening, there’s no reason to bring others down. It doesn’t add to their world, and it doesn’t make mine any better.
“Second, there’s a lot to be grateful for. When I’m in a down mood I try and keep in mind that there are people in other parts of the world living on a dollar a day and walking miles and miles in quest of drinking water for themselves and their loved ones. And, there are people who have disabilities and are living in devastating pain every day. So, while my heart breaks for them, I realize I’m very fortunate, and I’m filled with gratitude.
“Third, I simply act my way into feeling happy.”
“What was that?” she suddenly asked. And, I must admit, I thought she was asking in a way that implied it was about the silliest, stupidest thing she’d ever heard in her life.
“Well,” I explained, “most of us have been taught that we must first feel happy in order to be happy. However, it’s actually the opposite. We can actually act our way into the feeling we desire. Put a huge smile on your face and just try to be sad. It’s difficult, if not impossible to do so because the mind cannot simultaneously hold two opposing thoughts.”
She looked amazed. “So, act happy and you’ll be happy. You’re saying you can really act your way into happiness” said as though she needed affirmation that what she’d heard…I’d said.
“Yes. You can act your way into feeling happy.”
“Amazing” she replied. “I’m going to go in and write that down right now!”
Now, that made me happy…no acting necessary.