How to be cheerful

Written by joshua becker · 34 Comments

Last updated: December 21, 2019

Happiness is a state of mind. Specifically, it is a state of “well-being and contentment.”

But the definition can be tricky and assumptions about the word can cause confusion. Many don’t even realize learning how to be happy is something that can be intentionally practiced. Some people, when they hear the word ‘happiness,’ assume it is speaking of an emotion such as pleasure or joy. For them, it is what people feel in the immediate here and now.

This is the reason some people say, “Don’t pursue happiness, seek joy. Happiness is fickle and fading, joy remains forever.”

But this short-term definition of happiness is not how everyone understands the word. Some define it to mean long-term satisfaction.

In fact, when I speak of experiencing happiness in life, I am not thinking of short-term emotions at all. I think of a quality of living—a much longer-term view of the word.

Both definitions are understood to be correct and speak of different realities.

But are they really that different? I don’t think so.

After all, a long-term experience of life satisfaction is almost certainly made up of many short-term feelings of joy and pleasure. Does that mean every day is a great day with no trials, temptations, or downturns? Certainly not. But it does mean when we look back at the many seasons of life, we can look back satisfied at how we navigated them.

The long-term feeling of life satisfaction is most experienced when we embrace the emotion of joy in the here and now.

And we accomplish that by taking steps each day to be happy. Here are some tips on how to be happier starting today.

Daily Actions

1. Choose happiness

The most important thing to realize about happiness is that it is not an outcome of current circumstances. Just the opposite, happiness is a choice. Is this easier on some days than others? Absolutely. But if you get caught in the trap of thinking your circumstances need to change before you can be happy, you’ll never, ever get there.

2. Focus on the good

There are good things in your life right now: you are alive, you are fed, you are healthy, you have family and friends, and you have opportunit i es each day to pursue meaningful work. Maybe not all of those are true for you right now, but certainly some of them are—which means there is good in your life that you can focus on.

Marine Sgt. Jonny Joseph Jones lost both of his legs in an explosion while serving in Afghanistan. I was struck by a quote of his I saw recently. He said this, “People ask how I stay so positive after losing my legs… I simply ask how they stay so negative when they have both of theirs.”

Happiness is about perspective and if you’re looking for reasons to be happy, you’ll probably find them. Happy people focus on positive thoughts.

3. Stop comparing

No matter how you choose to define happiness—short-term or long-term—comparison will rob you of it. Whether we compare our finances, our body type, our vacations, our talents, our house size or our shoe size, there are no winners in the game of comparison. But here’s the good news: Nobody is forcing you to play! You can stop any time you want. Be grateful for what you have, appreciate who you are, work hard every day to live your best life, and stop comparing yourself to others.

4. Practice gratitude and generosity

In the world of positive psychology, there are a few themes that emerge every time happiness is studied. Among those recurring themes, we find gratitude and generosity.

Both of which can only be understood correctly when we see them as disciplines rather than responses. A discipline is something we practice regardless of our circumstances. If you are waiting for enough money to become generous, you’ll never get there. Likewise, if you are waiting for everything to be perfect to be grateful, you’ll never experience it. Choose to be thankful today. And choose to be generous with your time and money. Making them both a discipline in your life will result in a happier today… and tomorrow.

5. Don’t pursue physical possessions

Possessions are necessary for life, but our society has seemed to confuse consumerism with happiness. Marketers work hard to convince us their products are not just needed for life, but that they are essential for happiness.

Slowly but surely, we begin to believe their empty promises and waste our lives pursuing things that can never satisfy. We sacrifice time, money, energy, and focus chasing and accumulating things we do not need.

These excess possessions add stress, worry, and burden onto our lives. Want to become a bit more happy today? Go declutter a closet or drawer and start to challenge consumerism in your life.

6. Be present in your relationships

Robert J. Waldinger is an American psychiatrist and Professor at Harvard Medical School where he is best known for directing the world’s longest-running longitudinal study tracking the health and mental well-being of a group of 724 American men for 76 years.

One thing that he has learned, and has been confirmed by studies elsewhere, is that relationships hold the key to happiness:

Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.

We don’t get to control every aspect of our relationships (we didn’t choose our family, for example). But we can all take steps to be a good friend. And good friends tend to attract healthy community.

7. Develop healthy habits

Annie Dillard is credited for saying, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” And she is right. Our lives are filled with days, our days are filled with hours, and this present hour is filled with whatever you chose to fill it with. So pursue healthy habits that add value to your hours, days, and lifetime.

Spend time outside. Eat healthy. Exercise regularly. Quit smoking. Put down your cell phone. Work hard. Pray often. And get enough sleep.

8. Look outside yourself

The pursuit of self comes natural to us. We don’t need to be reminded to pursue our own self-interests. We pursue self-survival, self-promotion, self-actualization, and self-exaltation as if it is hardwired in our genes.

But the most efficient pathway to lasting happiness and fulfillment is not to look only at your own interests, but also to the interests of others. When we shift our focus off of ourselves, we live lives of greater meaning and greater contribution. When we serve others without concern over what we might receive in return, we experience the beauty of selfless love. The size of our universe (and happiness) begins to expand exponentially.

It is no small thing that happiness is pursued by so many. Let’s make sure we find it—in both the short term and the long term.

For more than a week, I’ve spent most of my time in a rehab center. My 91-year-old mother broke her hip. I noticed one thing as I watched her and the people who care for her, as well as the other rehab patients. Cheerfulness makes almost anything bearable.

For a patient, it’s easy to get depressed, lose hope or feel frustrated. When you get injured, in pain, lose your independence, and are forced to live away from home, it’s difficult to feel positive or happy. Additionally, as a caregiver, seeing people in pain, depressed, angry, or frustrated every day can prove quite trying. It takes a lot of patience and compassion to serve others who are challenged by difficult situations.

Cheerfulness Makes the Job Easier

In both cases, cheerfulness makes the “job” easier. Put a smile on your face, say a kind word, crack a joke, or offer a positive thought. You’ll be amazed at the response you get from the other person—and at how much easier what you have to do becomes. Patients become more relaxed and willing to comply with requests, and caregivers become kinder and more willing to help and listen.

For example, my mother has been quite despondent. If a nurse smiles at her and jokes with her, she smiles and jokes back, even if she was complaining and unhappy previously. At that moment, you can see the stress leave her face and body. For even a few seconds, she’s happy or happier and less stressed.

When my mother works with a physical or occupational therapist who is cheerful and upbeat, she has more ability and desire to perform given tasks—including walking. These individuals help her feel more hopeful and capable.

When I’ve asked the caregivers how they manage to stay so cheerful, they all respond the same way. They say, “Being cheerful makes the job easier, so I just work at staying in that frame of mind. And it helps everyone—the patients and me.”

I’ve seen a variety of patients and residents in the rehab facility. Some are unhappy and unpleasant. Others are happy and pleasant. Who do you think makes the most progress? The second group of course. And who is easier to work with? The second group.

Approach Challenges with a Cheerful Attitude

We all encounter difficult situations in life. I wouldn’t say uprooting myself to care for my mother is easy, for instance. I’m away from my family, juggling my work, and spending long hours cooking for my mother and caring for her. I have a friend who has been flying to another state every other week to care for her elderly parents—and she has been doing it for three years—while she juggles work.

Your situation might be different. You could struggle with a horrible boss, long work hours, or a project from hell. Your marriage could be failing. Maybe you’ve had surgery or suffer from a long-term illness. You could have business or financial concerns.

The struggle or challenge doesn’t matter. A cheerful attitude makes whatever you are going through easier to bear. It also helps you deal with it with less stress.

I met a man at the rehab facility who has multiple sclerosis. He was there because his illness relapsed. He is always smiling and cheerful. He lives with his condition every day of his life, yet he doesn’t let it get him down.

Practice Cheer

What about you? Can you keep a cheerful countenance despite life’s challenges? Can you flow through your days with a smile on your face, and a kind and uplifting word for all you meet—no matter what is happening in your life or theirs? Can you make others happy and ease their pain simply by being cheerful?

It takes practice, but I know you can do it. Let your inner light shine, and the world will be a brighter place. After all, your essence isn’t dark and sad. It’s bright and cheery. Be cheerful, and you’ll see the light in every face that cheerfully reflects your light back at you.

If you want to find your inner light, I’d be happy to discuss how High Performance Coaching might help you fulfill your potential and live your life with more clarity, courage, energy, productivity, and influence—and cheer. To set up a 1-hour FREE High Performance Coaching session, click here. Then download the free session application, and submit it. I’ll contact you to schedule your session time.

A downloadable game for Windows, macOS, and Linux

| The first fanmade Stray Kids videogame!

“How To Be н–‰ліµн•ґ”, better known as “The Felix Game”, is a video game about Stray Kids, made by STAY, for STAY.

About the game:
The Felix Game is a choice-based game that focuses on a collecting mechanic. In the game, the player plays the role of Lee Felix who gradually discovers more about Stray Kids and its members by making the right (or wrong) choices. By progressing through the game, Felix gets the chance to collect memories with the members in the form of polaroids and notes, which again teach the player about the journey of the group.

We made this game as a gift for Felix, Stray Kids, and STAY. The game will be released in multiple chapters, of which you can download the two first here!

For more information and updates, follow us on our social media: https://linktr.ee/thefelixgame

Install instructions

For download tutorials, please visit our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheFelixGame

• How to get the 2nd chapter if I never played the 1st one?

Simply follow the tutorial on our youtube channel, and you’ll be good to go!

• How to get the 2nd chapter if I already have the 1st one?

-On your computer, go to the folder where your game is and delete that folder.

-Download the new one according to the tutorial.

• Wait. What about my saves?!

No worries, the save files are stored in a different folder on your computer, they will still be available!

• So, I just delete the old version and download the new one?

Exactly! Simply follow the tutorial on our youtube channel and play it as usual. Once you start the game, you should be able to go to the “Load” screen from the Title Screen and load your latest save. You can go from there!

• I have to play (a bit of) the first chapter again?

Not necessarily. If you saved your game right before the end of Chapter 1 you can reach the end quickly and begin Chapter 2. However, if you have no saves, or saved far from the end, you will have to play through the remaining part of the first chapter.

We kept this in mind for future release and there is now an autosave function, that saves your game at the very end of a chapter (after the cutscene!) so you can simply load and play the new chapter right away. You will be able to do so with Chapter 3!

• Something’s not working as it should.

If something is looking suspicious or the game isn’t launching fine, even without the help of the tutorials, please contact us here or by DM on our Twitter account @TheFelixGame. Our main programmer will be there for tech support and will try to do his best to help!

!!ADDITION FOR MAC USERS:

To make sure you’ll be able to launch the game, please follow this little tutorial:

-Navigate to where the How To Be Happy – District 9 (Mac OS).app folder you unzipped is.

-Open a terminal (it’s available in Applications). Then start by typing this command :

sudo chmod -R 755

-Don’t press enter yet. Drag the game app onto the terminal to copy its path and now you can press enter.

The command you’ll have then should look something like that:

sudo chmod -R 755 /Users/user/Desktop/How\ To\ Be\ Happy\ -\ District\ 9\ (Mac\ OS). app

-It will ask for a password, simply enter yours. If you’re not the administrator on the computer, you’ll have to enter the administrator’s password.

-And when that’s done you should be able to open the game by double-clicking or right-click + OPEN on the app.

Joy is within your reach — so go grab some!

We all want to feel happy, and each one of us has different ways of getting there. Here are 10 steps you can take to increase your joie de vivre and bring more happiness into your life:

  1. Be with others who make you smile. Studies show that we are happiest when we are around those who are also happy. Stick with those who are joyful and let it rub off on you.
  2. Hold on to your values. What you find true, what you know is fair, and what you believe in are all values. Over time, the more you honor them, the better you will feel about yourself and those you love.
  3. Accept the good. Look at your life and take stock of what’s working, and don’t push away something just because it isn’t perfect. When good things happen, even the very little ones, let them in.
  4. Imagine the best. Don’t be afraid to look at what you really want and see yourself getting it. Many people avoid this process because they don’t want to be disappointed if things don’t work out. The truth is that imagining getting what you want is a big part of achieving it.
  5. Do things you love. Maybe you can’t skydive every day or take vacations every season, but as long as you get to do the things you love every once in a while, you will find greater happiness.
  6. Find purpose. Those who believe they are contributing to the well-being of humanity tend to feel better about their lives. Most people want to be part of something greater than they are, simply because it’s fulfilling.
  7. Listen to your heart. You are the only one who knows what fills you up. Your family and friends may think you’d be great at something that really doesn’t float your boat. It can be complicated following your bliss. Just be smart, and keep your day job for the time being.
  8. Push yourself, not others. It’s easy to feel that someone else is responsible for your fulfillment, but the reality is that it is really your charge. Once you realize that, you have the power to get where you want to go. Stop blaming others or the world, and you’ll find your answers much sooner.
  9. Be open to change. Even if it doesn’t feel good, change is the one thing you can count on. Change will happen, so make contingency plans and emotionally shore yourself up for the experience.
  10. Bask in the simple pleasures. Those who love you, treasured memories, silly jokes, warm days, and starry nights—these are the ties that bind and the gifts that keep on giving.

Happiness and fulfillment are within your grasp, but sometimes just out of reach. Understanding what works best for you is the first step in finding more of them.

A comic novel about love, lust and social angst at the dental surgery vividly evokes English provincial life in 1980

Glimpses of a wider comic world … Nina Stibbe. Photograph: Karen Robinson/The Observer

Glimpses of a wider comic world … Nina Stibbe. Photograph: Karen Robinson/The Observer

Reasons to Be Cheerful reintroduces us to the child and then adolescent protagonist of Nina Stibbe’s previous two novels, Men at the Helm and Paradise Lodge. In this book Lizzie Vogel, intellectually sophisticated yet essentially unworldly, has just turned 18 and moved out of the family home – which is currently occupied by her lovable but wayward mother (“drunk, divorcee, nudist, amphetamine addict, nymphomaniac, shoplifter, would-be novelist, poet, playwright”), her kindly stepfather Mr Holt, and their infant child Danny. Lizzie has talked her way into a job as a dental assistant, and is at last living by herself in the big city (Leicester), in a flat above the surgery that comes with the job.

The dentist, JP, is a memorably unappealing creation who sucks on panatellas and is obsessed with joining the Freemasons. But we’re encouraged to sympathise with Tammy, who shares Lizzie’s work as his dental nurse but is taking time off in order, somewhat reluctantly, to try for a baby with JP. Lizzie – weaned by her mother on the classics – has a large vocabulary and a sharp brain, which she now starts applying to the practical life advice available in women’s magazines. She aspires to be a journalist, and is often musing on the features she could write:

Extrapolating, I might research an article about all the things men don’t like women doing . My own limited experience showed that men disliked their wives driving, eating onions and spices, having a dog, talking about sport, laughing loudly, spending money on fripperies, disagreeing with them, chatting on the phone, climbing trees, talking about dogs, mowing the lawn in flip-flops, wearing too much make-up, being too fat, being too keen, worrying and, I suspect, reading the news on TV.

Lizzie develops a chaste relationship with a handsome apprentice dental technician called Andy and spends a good deal of time trying to figure out how to have sex with him. She wonders whether her footwear (she wears socks with sandals to combat her athlete’s foot) might be putting him off; or her failure to be (as her magazines advise her) “rampant”. When he becomes her mother’s lodger this impasse gets worse – and the poignancy of her shyness and awkwardness, her not quite knowing where she stands, is delicately done.

The whole thing is very well crafted. Stibbe will drop the seeds of unwritten chapters into asides – glimpses of a wider comic world in little metonymies. At one point, for instance, Lizzie mentions: “My mother had a series of lodgers over the years. A woman who used to cry if the Beatles came on the radio, and couldn’t use tampons. A doctor who let a mature spider plant die of thirst and had a problem swallowing, and a student who invaded the treehouse.” Further elaboration, as so often in Stibbe, would spoil it altogether.

The spirit of Victoria Wood hovers over the way Stibbe generates tender human sympathy via mundane provincial detail

The book is set in 1980, and the period detail is exact and remorseless without ever quite shading into camp or kitsch. This is an England where a grandmother has “come back from Knossos with various olive-themed objets d’art and a replica fresco”, and “the kitchenette window had a gingham half-curtain that I’d run up myself from a pattern in a magazine”. Everyone smokes indoors. People in their 40s and 50s are older than they are now. There’s a background thrum of golf-club-calibre racism, anxiety about nuclear war and poor oral hygiene. Salad spinners are a slightly exotic innovation.

The food, incidentally, is also just so. There is consternation and disapproval about the high cost and growing availability of ready-made sandwiches. One character is suspected of eating candy prawns and Toffos. We encounter Whitworths dried onions, a Splayd (I had to Google this: a cousin of the spork), and a dinner party where “Tammy’s mince-and-aubergine bake (moussaka) with green salad and vinaigrette went head-to-head with my spaghetti ring and chopped-egg flan (Crosse & Blackwell recipe featured in Woman’s Own which was nicer than it sounds).”

But as things progress the story changes gear, giving a fuller resonance to what could otherwise be taken as a simple assemblage of whimsy and kookiness. I shan’t give away any plot twists, but there is innocence, and the loss of innocence, and the reassertion of a wider and better sort of innocence. The spirit of Victoria Wood, I think, hovers over the way Stibbe generates tender human sympathy through an accumulation of mundane provincial detail. As Lizzie puts it: “I’d known sadness before, I’d seen it, but I’d not experienced the sort of pain that makes a person switch sandwich preference.”

The critical thing you must do before confronting a negative person.

How to be cheerful

“There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. That little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” –Robert Collier

I’m pretty sure I don’t need to tell you how important being upbeat, optimistic and downright happy is to your well-being. For decades, you’ve all heard how being positive improves your relationships, your academic potential, and even how successful you’ll be in your career. And in recent years, research has shown that negative emotions are directly related to a slew of physical conditions, such as hypertension, impaired immune system, cardiovascular disease, digestive disorders, and infection.

Bottom line? It’s better to stay happy!

But even on good days, when you’re bopping around like Pharrell Williams singing “Because I’m happy!” at the top of your lungs, you can run into that professional grump who is determined to ruin your mood with his complaining, whining, criticizing, balloon-popping negativity.

Many of us weren’t around when the L’il Abner comic strip was popular. But there was a character named Joe Btfsplk in the comic who walked around with dark rain cloud over his head. Misery and bad luck struck anyone who came within Joe Btfsplk’s vicinity.

Sound like anyone you know?

The fortunate (and unfortunate) thing is that your brain is naturally sensitive to negativity. Fortunate because if the source of that negativity could do actual harm to you (say, a saber tooth tiger ready to pounce), your brain is ready to signal your body to spring into action to defend yourself. But it’s unfortunate because your amygdala doesn’t distinguish between a real threat and your crabby neighbor whose specialty is doom and gloom. Even if the negativity does not threaten your physical survival, your brain will still turn a good amount of your attention to that negative source—and your happy mood is shot.

So how to get the Pharrell Williams track playing again? How to get the happy back—or never lose it in the first place?

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), we use the phrase “perception is projection.” In other words, whatever you see out there is in some way a reflection of what is inside of you. That said, the truth is that there are negative people in the world, people who, given the opportunity, will do harm to others. But before dealing with Mr. or Ms. Bad News, you need to check to see how much of your negative reactions to their negativity comes from your own internal issues.

The first step is to track your triggers, those things that instantly make you feel mad, bad, or sad. It can be a particular type of person, like someone who is very successful or someone who is a non-stop talker. It can be a particular topic like your weight or certain political views. A trigger can even be a certain tone of voice such as a patronizing tone or a high-pitched squeal. Pay attention to whatever it is that bumps you out of your feeling of well-being.

Make a list of those things or people, and notice if you can see any similarities or themes. For example, you might notice that you’re bothered by people who constantly gossip about other people—your co-worker, your father-in-law, or your golf buddy. As soon as they start in with the back-stabbing, you feel particularly defensive and uncomfortable. What’s the real issue here? Are you worried that they’re doing the same thing to you when your back is turned? Are you feeling judgmental about others as well but ashamed to admit it?

Just becoming aware of and acknowledging your triggers can go a long way toward helping you maintain your positive mood around negative people. But sometimes a trigger runs deep and needs a more concerted effort to unplug you from your reactions. When that’s the case, you can use what NLP calls a “reframe” by asking yourself: “How can I see this differently?” For example, with the gossiper, you might reframe it and notice that by gossiping and letting off steam, these people are less likely to do actual harm to the people they’re criticizing!

If reframing doesn’t work, your trigger may run deeper. Perhaps you saw an elementary school bully taunt others before pummeling them. You may have some deep-seated fear attached to people speaking ill of someone else that needs releasing. In prior articles, I’ve talked about several techniques like ho’oponopono and the Mental Emotional Release Process® (MER®) that can help with this release.

However you do it, it’s critical to release your own stuff before you confront that negative person. Why? Because by doing so, you’re able to come from a place that is clear, a place that will serve your highest and best intention. Let’s compare how you might respond to the gossiper with and without your own baggage in the mix:

If you haven’t dealt with your own issues, odds are your confrontation will go something like, “I’m sick and tired of hearing you gripe about other people. What’s wrong with you? Can you say anything nice?” Compare that to: “I’m uncomfortable hearing you talk about others that way and I don’t feel good participating in it. Can we talk about something else?”

I’m guessing both approaches would get a reaction from the gossiper. But which feels more centered? Which has the potential for maintaining the relationship, maybe even allowing the gossiper to consider his actions? Which would get you back to happy the soonest?

Bottom line: You’re responsible for and in control of your own happiness. And being happy is important to your overall health and well-being. To paraphrase a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, no one can make you unhappy without your permission!

Use cheerfulness to heal yourself and others

An increasing number of doctors, today, all over the world, are of the view that if a man is happy and light-hearted, cheerful and contented, positive and uncomplaining, disease will not draw close to him and, even if it does, it will not stay with him for long.

“Laughter,” says Dr Bradley Wilde [USA], “provides a rhythmic movement of the abdominal muscles, gently massages the intestinal organs, improves digestion and blood circulation.”

In the Harvard and Yale Universities of America and at the University of California Los Angeles’s Neuro-psychiatric Institute at West Los Angeles, neurobiologists and medical researchers have confirmed that smiling, laughing and cheerful expressions set in motion happy waves in the mind and generate neuropeptides that revitalise the immune system. This helps prevent and fight disease. People who stay away from negative thoughts and emotions such as jealousy, envy or greed, are healthier than those who live cloistered, unhappy lives.

Laugh more

Many modern hospitals and clinics display messages like: “Laugh your way to health”, “Laughter may be hazardous to your illness” and “Cheerfulness is the new wonder drug”.

Doctors are of the view that our blood molecules contain receptors that get signals from the brain. If a person is happy and content, the receptors transmit signals of happiness, and healing is accelerated. Modern science has discovered that the more you laugh, the healthier you become. Jolly physicians, it is said, are more effective than pills.

Cheerfulness is the greatest lubricant of the wheels of life. It diminishes pain, fights disease, mitigates misfortunes, lightens burdens and eases one’s life.

The importance of cheerfulness

A young girl, suffering from a dreaded disease, was brought to a hospital. When she was being prepared to be taken to the operation theatre, she found the nurses sad and glum. “I know what you are thinking,” she said to the nurses. “But, let me tell you, I am not going to die so soon. God has other plans for me. I have spoken to Him and that is what He has told me.” When she was taken to the operation theatre, she kidded the doctors, until she came under the influence of the anaesthesia. The doctors opened her up and found that cancer had spread so extensively, that it was no use performing the operation. So they stitched her up.

When she regained consciousness, she was told that she has only 3 – 6 months to live. She was advised to restrict her movements and live a relaxed, activity-free life.

The young woman was not taken in. “I have long cherished a desire to visit Switzerland,” she said. “And even if it takes the life out of me, I will do it! Switzerland is known as the heaven on earth. Before I visit God’s heaven, let me see the beauty of the earthly heaven to be able to compare the two and decide which one is better.”

The doctors did all they could to dissuade her. “The strain of the trip will kill you,” they said to her. But she remained adamant and guess what? Both the travel and the climate did her good. When she set out, she had to be taken in a wheel chair; when she returned, she walked with a straight gait, and a rose-tint on her cheeks. The doctors were amazed. Till this day she lives a happy life and bears testimony to the fact that if you live happily, not focusing your attention on disease and illness, health and strength, vigour and vitality will be yours.

Being cheerful is therapeutic

There would be no need for hospitals if only people could be happy and light-hearted!

Two years ago, on the sacred day of Muharram, they took me to Imam Bara. There, I met a man who went by the name Mr Agha. He said to me: “Your people, I am aware, do a lot of service. But, I too, in my own humble way, render service to people.”

“What do you do?” I asked him.

“I appear on the TV, and make people laugh!”

How true! Those who make people laugh, also serve. Many of us have forgotten the ancient art of laughing.

Cheerfulness is therapeutic. And I wish to share with you a few practical suggestions on how a person can keep up the spirit of cheerfulness.

  • Get up in the morning with a smile on your face and the words, “Good morning, Lord!” on your lips. These words are from the title of a book written several years ago by an American businessman. He has been waking up this way for many years and says that doing merely this much has added a new dimension to his life.
  • Always look at the bright side of things. Everything has two sides, the bright and the dark or as I wish to put it, the bright and the less bright. But it is the way you look at it that matters.
  • Get a hearty laugh at least three times a day—once before breakfast, once before lunch and once before dinner. If you find it difficult to laugh, look into the mirror and make funny faces.

Cheerfulness is indeed a physical, mental and spiritual tonic.

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Spot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!

The critical thing you must do before confronting a negative person.

How to be cheerful

“There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. That little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” –Robert Collier

I’m pretty sure I don’t need to tell you how important being upbeat, optimistic and downright happy is to your well-being. For decades, you’ve all heard how being positive improves your relationships, your academic potential, and even how successful you’ll be in your career. And in recent years, research has shown that negative emotions are directly related to a slew of physical conditions, such as hypertension, impaired immune system, cardiovascular disease, digestive disorders, and infection.

Bottom line? It’s better to stay happy!

But even on good days, when you’re bopping around like Pharrell Williams singing “Because I’m happy!” at the top of your lungs, you can run into that professional grump who is determined to ruin your mood with his complaining, whining, criticizing, balloon-popping negativity.

Many of us weren’t around when the L’il Abner comic strip was popular. But there was a character named Joe Btfsplk in the comic who walked around with dark rain cloud over his head. Misery and bad luck struck anyone who came within Joe Btfsplk’s vicinity.

Sound like anyone you know?

The fortunate (and unfortunate) thing is that your brain is naturally sensitive to negativity. Fortunate because if the source of that negativity could do actual harm to you (say, a saber tooth tiger ready to pounce), your brain is ready to signal your body to spring into action to defend yourself. But it’s unfortunate because your amygdala doesn’t distinguish between a real threat and your crabby neighbor whose specialty is doom and gloom. Even if the negativity does not threaten your physical survival, your brain will still turn a good amount of your attention to that negative source—and your happy mood is shot.

So how to get the Pharrell Williams track playing again? How to get the happy back—or never lose it in the first place?

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), we use the phrase “perception is projection.” In other words, whatever you see out there is in some way a reflection of what is inside of you. That said, the truth is that there are negative people in the world, people who, given the opportunity, will do harm to others. But before dealing with Mr. or Ms. Bad News, you need to check to see how much of your negative reactions to their negativity comes from your own internal issues.

The first step is to track your triggers, those things that instantly make you feel mad, bad, or sad. It can be a particular type of person, like someone who is very successful or someone who is a non-stop talker. It can be a particular topic like your weight or certain political views. A trigger can even be a certain tone of voice such as a patronizing tone or a high-pitched squeal. Pay attention to whatever it is that bumps you out of your feeling of well-being.

Make a list of those things or people, and notice if you can see any similarities or themes. For example, you might notice that you’re bothered by people who constantly gossip about other people—your co-worker, your father-in-law, or your golf buddy. As soon as they start in with the back-stabbing, you feel particularly defensive and uncomfortable. What’s the real issue here? Are you worried that they’re doing the same thing to you when your back is turned? Are you feeling judgmental about others as well but ashamed to admit it?

Just becoming aware of and acknowledging your triggers can go a long way toward helping you maintain your positive mood around negative people. But sometimes a trigger runs deep and needs a more concerted effort to unplug you from your reactions. When that’s the case, you can use what NLP calls a “reframe” by asking yourself: “How can I see this differently?” For example, with the gossiper, you might reframe it and notice that by gossiping and letting off steam, these people are less likely to do actual harm to the people they’re criticizing!

If reframing doesn’t work, your trigger may run deeper. Perhaps you saw an elementary school bully taunt others before pummeling them. You may have some deep-seated fear attached to people speaking ill of someone else that needs releasing. In prior articles, I’ve talked about several techniques like ho’oponopono and the Mental Emotional Release Process® (MER®) that can help with this release.

However you do it, it’s critical to release your own stuff before you confront that negative person. Why? Because by doing so, you’re able to come from a place that is clear, a place that will serve your highest and best intention. Let’s compare how you might respond to the gossiper with and without your own baggage in the mix:

If you haven’t dealt with your own issues, odds are your confrontation will go something like, “I’m sick and tired of hearing you gripe about other people. What’s wrong with you? Can you say anything nice?” Compare that to: “I’m uncomfortable hearing you talk about others that way and I don’t feel good participating in it. Can we talk about something else?”

I’m guessing both approaches would get a reaction from the gossiper. But which feels more centered? Which has the potential for maintaining the relationship, maybe even allowing the gossiper to consider his actions? Which would get you back to happy the soonest?

Bottom line: You’re responsible for and in control of your own happiness. And being happy is important to your overall health and well-being. To paraphrase a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, no one can make you unhappy without your permission!