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The Secret To Happiness

I have been on the fence with what to write lately. Like everyone else, I swing like a pendulum back and forth from diligently monitoring the world news until my anxiety ratchets up to a breaking point in which I completely tune it out. And then I feel guilty for turning a blind eye. And then the cycle begins again.

I often think, who am I to complain about my life, or for that matter, enjoy my life, when some people are living in such complete devastation. And I often feel the compulsion to consistently overcommunicate to my kids how very lucky they are, worried they will grow up taking what they have for granted.

It is a fine line teaching your kids to appreciate what they have in life and at the same time not creating soon to be anxiety ridden adults. The same can also be said for caring about the world you live in and still finding joy in your everyday life.

I think what I need to do daily, what everyone needs to do, is to say, “It is okay to be happy. It is okay to laugh. It is okay to enjoy the life that I was given.” To do these things doesn’t mean that I don’t care or don’t have empathy for those suffering.

Today I had lunch with a friend and we discussed some heavy topics, but then we had a ridiculous conversation with some silly jokes and it felt good to just laugh. Really laugh. I don’t think anything soothes the soul quite like a good laugh with someone.

My ten year old son and I tend to spend quality time together at the end of the night watching a show or movie. We have worked our way through many of my 90’s favorites and we somehow stumbled upon the TV show Ghosts, currently in its first season. As it is quirky and makes me giggle, that is pretty much the death knell that it is going to be canceled soon. I hope I am pleasantly surprised, and it survives for next year. (Update: I just saw that it is being renewed for a second season. Yah!)

My son loves one of the ghosts who is a Viking named Thor. He has the best lines. Such as, “Landship! Landship!”, in reference to whenever he sees a car approaching the mansion. My son can do a wonderfully deep voice impersonation, circa his Venom movie phase, and does a spot on Thor voice.

So, yes, to giving kids much needed perspective, as long as it is balanced out with love, and a little bit of laughter. Because life is just too darn short. It just is. When I interview people about their lives, the big picture of their life, that is what it always seems to come down to, what life is all about: love and laughter.

Everyone has that one funny story they want to tell that has been passed down through the family, and everyone wants to talk about the people they have loved in their life. It isn’t that you need to go through your life laughing it up, it is more that if you can see the funny side of life, you can see the lighter side of life, and you probably have a more positive outlook.

If your first inclination is to laugh and to smile, rather than to frown and complain about a situation, think about how different your perspective on life could be. I am so often guilty of letting worry consume me and jumping to the worst case scenario. I have been trying to shift to expecting a good day, rather than a bad day. Maybe seeing the best in someone instead of the worst.

Recently, my husband stopped what he was doing and said, “It is nice to see you happy. It is nice to see you smile.” It made me feel bad that has not been the norm for me lately, but also was encouraging that I CAN shift my outlook on life.

One of my absolute all-time favorite movies ever, About Time has such a great example of choosing happiness, in a scene where the father explains to his son “The Secret Formula For Happiness.” This is about five minutes, but just stick with it. It is something that has stayed with me over the years - a powerful example of how much your attitude shapes perception of your daily events.

Note: This movie is based on the premise that the father and son can both time travel and revisit experiences in their lives. Watch this clip:

So, as you are reading this, if you could replay your day and do it differently, how could you do it better? Or as you prepare for tomorrow, think about how you can enhance the day of those around you and bring some much needed joy to other’s lives, even if just to make someone break into a brief smile or laugh.

The photo at the beginning of this post is a picture I took in Colorado when visiting my sister. We were walking a little mountain in her neighborhood and she told me that people hide stone hearts throughout the trial to surprise people. I like this thought and I think we can all use little surprises like this in life right about now.

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