I was born in the United States. So do you know how I learned English? I didn’t. Okay, I DID take several English classes, and I even learned how to diagram a sentence. But the primary way I learned English was with conversation: listening and talking. I never thought about my process as learning English. It was just speaking.
In much the same way that I learned English by living in a world of English-speaking people, you can learn to be happier by surrounding yourself with more happiness.
Rub up against happy people. At work, linger a moment longer talking with a colleague who is upbeat and positive, helpful and hopeful. I used to call a coworker named Meredith whenever I needed a pick-me-up. Her way of looking at the world made me feel good and added a boost to my day better than a catnap. Stand in the check out line with the smiling clerk, not the one who looks like his colostomy bag is ready to rupture. Call your high school chum who still knows how to make you laugh after all these years. You might not get to choose the people you work with each day, but when you find someone makes you happy, go back for seconds. Or thirds.
Hang out where happy people hang out. Do you like books, animals, outdoor activities? Then go to a book store, pet store, or outdoor store. That’s where you’ll find people who share your passion. Do you ever see miserable people playing with a puppy at Pet Smart? No! You see happy people involved in things that make them happy. Go join them! When you feel your lips curling in an upward direction, you know that you’re in the right place.
Fill your mind with happiness. Turn off Nancy Grace or any news program that dwells in a world of who-killed-whom. Yes, the economy is in the crapper, bad people are still doing bad things, unhappiness continues to spread faster than the odor of a dead skunk. You might be tempted to catch all of the details on the 11 o’clock news while you’re getting ready for bed, a time when you should be shutting down and unwinding for the night. But don’t. Pass on the sad and dark reality, and find something a little lighter. Don’t watch or read things that get you worked up or in a wad. Turn on a good comedy, something that makes you smile or laugh.
These baby steps don’t require medication, meditation, or money. They just require a small move in the right direction.
So what are you going to do today to water your own soul and nurture your own happiness?