Happiness is an Inside Job
It’s important to remember to feel good all the time.
It’s not something that happens – it’s intentional.
Of course there are times in our day (sometimes many, many times) when people or situations will try your patience. Like being late for an appointment or getting stuck in traffic when you have to pee or being on the receiving end of someone else’s bad day.
But we are in control of our reactions to these situations. I’m not a Pollyanna-type person. I wasn’t born with eternal sunshine streaming out of my sphincter (thank you spellcheck).
I’ve been through my share of depressions and down times. I’ve seen low tides.
But at a certain point, don’t you just get sick and tired of feeling like sh!t?
I know I did.
So I went on a journey to discover happiness.
I remember reading a transcript from a talk once given by a very loving and positive person – someone who spent most of their adult life volunteering and helping others. He gave a talk entitled “Happiness is an Inside Job”, or something of that nature. He talked about people who were put in prisons or concentration camps but still found joy and happiness. They didn’t find it in there situations or their fellow humans who were suffering with them.
They found it inside.
They decided to be happy, regardless of the situation. It confounded their captors and made them targets of more abuse, but they kept their joy.
Can we learn a lesson from them?
Can we try to act like we have it better than these prisoners, or people who had been torn away from their families and starved to death?
The next time you are ready to strangle the person in front of you at Starbucks who seems to be ordering for the very first time – for everyone in their office – try to look at the situation from a different perspective. Yes, it’s going to be a while before you get your hot cup of burnt tasting yuppyhood-mocha-latte, but maybe you could use this time to reflect on all the good things in your life. Like the freedom and ability to be standing there waiting for your name to be called by someone who seems to be rushing, but still takes forever to put 3 pumps of hazelnut in your very short “tall” cup of joe.
Maybe you could reflect on just how you view happiness.
I use to think of it as a myth. Then later in life I changed my philosophy to imagine happiness as something that came in short bursts – like a minute or two at a time throughout the day, or week. Joy was still a myth. I wondered exactly what joy felt like – what a very strange word – joy – J O Y.
I’m very happy (genuinely) to say that in the last several years, I have found joy. Not in a person, nor a circumstance. Not even in my V8 powered Shelby Mustang (Oh but it sure feels like joy).
I found it inside.
Here is a concept that I am still working on: Everything we have ever heard, seen, felt, experienced, read, watched, touched is still inside our minds. I believe that. How else could we pull random crap from a bad movie we saw way back when we were 8 at just the right moment during a trivia game?
Of course it’s true. It’s just that our filing system sucks.
But think about it: If everything we have ever been exposed to is still in there bouncing around, all we really have to do to access it and make it usable is believe. Right? Relax, take a deep breath, accept the concept as fact, then let our mind release to us all we need to know.
Of course it will take practice. And we will be frustrated more times than not. But why not try?
Why not start with relaxing and thinking about the last funny thing we saw, or the last funny time we had with friends. You know that feeling? When you catch yourself smiling so hard your face hurts? Grab that feeling – like a match being lit on a windy day. Protect that flickering emotion – cup it with your hand and concentrate on it. Nurture that flame until the fire reaches the meaty part of the match stick. Now watch the fire dance and grow and as you do, let that emotion grow – happiness, joy, laughter. Let that feeling stay for a minute or three. Dwell on that happiness. Dwell on that feeling until it starts to feel comfortable and at home inside. Let that warm glow of joy settle in a corner of your heart that you are not using at the moment. Make it a special place that you can go to whenever you think about it.
But don’t stop there. Visit that little flicker of joy every single day – many times each day. Visit that feeling as often as you like. Pretty soon, we will actually start to feel genuine happiness. And it will last for more than a couple minutes. It’ll last for however long we want it to.
Happiness is an inside job.