Trying to be Happy
During the last month, I’ve been consciously trying to be happy–one of the “habits of supremely happy people” as outlined on Huffington Post, based on the TED talk by the founder of positive psychology.
My biggest challenge was on the micro level, trying to maintain a happy disposition despite the myriad frustrating mundanities that tend to plague us all. So when I would catch my inner voice grumbling about something, I would immediately replace my negative thoughts with positive ones.
For example, driving down the road in a city plagued by meandering, mindless drivers (when is it ever ok to hit the accelerator when you’ve been stopped at a red light and there’s oncoming traffic???), I’d curse a driver for nearly taking my life–that habit hasn’t changed. But rather than simmering over it for the next mile, I told myself how lucky I was to be driving a car that’s equipped with so much safety stuff, and that if I did get into an accident, I’d probably be just fine.
Or when my baby would fuss and hang from my legs while I attempted to make dinner, my first instinct would be to get annoyed, barely contain my frustration, and unload it on my husband as soon as he walked in the door. Instead, I’d take a deep breath, pick up my son, and take a moment to check in with him. Although it delayed dinner a bit, comforting him and distracting him was a much more pleasant way to get through the evening.
What does this have to do with happiness?
Grousing about things not being the way you want them to be is fruitless–like trying to force a square peg in a round hole. I’m not encouraging you to give up in the face of these challenges; I’ve found happiness in finding new ways to approach problems.
On the macro level, I’ve been focusing my attention on how beautiful and amazing our world, and on a really macro level, our universe, is.
Driving down the same stretch of road that I always drive down, I looked up from the cars before me and saw a snow-covered mountain range jutting up from the surrounding high desert landscape. Ha! I thought to myself, I’m so lucky to live here. That’s a pretty groundbreaking statement when you consider that I’ve been homesick for a temperate climate not far from the Pacific Ocean for the last year and a half.
Trying to be happy is, so far, my favorite habit to cultivate. It’s been the easiest to do and given me the most immediate reward. I am, after all, a lazy American. And the pursuit of happiness is part of the foundation of this country.
Next up: Being mindful of the good.
Photo credit: Oak Trees and Mariachi