I confess I need this more than many people. I worry too much. I let others’ actions derail me too often. I let the weight of life on Planet Earth bog me down. This article is for people who seem to have been weaned on vinegar and lemon juice.
I have always respected people who perpetually seem to be cheerful. Regardless of what is going on around them, they seem upbeat and even happy. I have always said I wanted to be like that. In the last couple years, I have finally started doing something about it. I am not great at it, but I am making progress.
All our emotions are based on habits. If we want to we can find something bad in everything that happens to us and around us. Just the same, if we want to, we can find something good in everything that happens to us and around us.
Sometimes I have put a scowl on my face to let people know I am unhappy with them. I am aware that that doesn’t work. Treating them poorly because they have treated me poorly is on the same substandard level of them treating me poorly in the first place. They will see me as someone who is unhappy, but won’t reflect it back at themselves to understand that they are acting poorly. That’s normal. People don’t take responsibility for anyone but themselves, and many take very little responsibility even for themselves.
To try to change a habit, I catch myself when I have acted crossly, and I go through the scenario again in my mind, this time doing it cheerfully. And I have been increasingly successful in doing it right the first time around.
When I am treated with poor customer service, I smile and say–or when I catch myself acting crossly, I wish I had smiled and said–”I hope the rest of your day goes better.” I can even be cheerful, yet matter-of-fact, and say, with a smile on my face, “I am disappointed in the customer service, because other than that, I enjoy shopping here.” If nothing else, it is best to simply smile and say, “Thank you.”
When I am caught in heavy traffic where people act selfishly (which is what causes traffic congestion to be as bad as it is), I realize that being upset about it will not change it. Neither will being cheerful, but I prefer being cheerful. It’s simply a mindset. I make a decision to not be upset about it. However I feel, it’s a decision, so I might as well be cheerful.
We should be the happiest people in history. Our lives are better than was possible at any other time in the past. We ought to be cheerful at all times. I think we compare ourselves and our lives to some ideal, and then are not happy if we’re too far away from that. If we were all prisoners of war, perhaps just an extra half slice of bread would put a smile on our faces and convince us that life is worthwhile after all, whereas in our prosperous times, we might scream out at our family demanding to know who put a half-slice of bread back in the bag.
Our emotions really are habits and we can control how we feel and how we treat other people in every case.
Predictably, the more cheerful we are, the more people like us and the better they treat us, and the more good opportunities and success come our way. The unreformed part of me wants to say that that makes it even easier to be cheerful, but that would assume we’re still not being cheerful for its own sake–because it is simply better than any other course; rather we’re cheerful because of what goes on around us–and then we’re right back to the problem. We can just as easily be grumpy because of what goes on around us.
So we must not be cheerful for any reason other than because good cheer is best. Because it works and anything else does not. It must come naturally to us; it must be integral to us. I’ve got a way to go to get to that point, but I want you to know that I’m happy about it. I improve myself and my day by working at it. I enjoy it.
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” – Buddha
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