How To Be Happy In 3 Simple Steps

Some days are rough, like when you get a flat tire on your way to the store to buy sour cream because SOMEBODY can’t eat fajitas without it. Yeah, people can be grumpy and difficult like that. They can also be snakes and assholes. They can get road rage, and break into your car and steal your daughter’s laptop because she was dumb enough to leave it there in the first place – in plain sight on the front seat (yes, Tess, despite your protests to the contrary, that could happen to you).

People can say things like, “You look like you have a mullet.” Thanks Charles, my son, the boy I brought into this world and for whom I’ve done a million and one things. It’s because I was exercising OK, and I had my hair in a pony tail. Sheesh!

People can pull out guns and shoot you (more likely in the United States than in Canada because our rules here are stricter – thank god), or they can simply let the door at the bank slam in your face when you are juggling groceries, two little kids – one fussy baby and a screaming toddler – a stroller, AND a coffee, because without that last item, you’d be passed out on the sofa at home, the kids (ages six months and two years) “making” dinner themselves. Some people just can’t see beyond their own feet.
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Yes, I know, most of these cases are fairly insignificant, and others – like the gun example – are pretty extreme AND dangerous. No matter what though, you are not going to get through life without experiencing some really “how will I ever cope?” shit. And the kicker? You can’t control most of it. The only thing you CAN control is yourself, and how you respond to things. So for me, happiness is definitely something I try to cultivate. If I just sat around waiting for the sun to shine and awesomeness to drop into my lap, I’d be a very sad and pathetic person indeed.

I look for happiness anywhere and everywhere I can – like when the cat throws up inside my shoe, I say, “Well, that needed a good washing, so thank you cat.” Or when I’m driving, and a small rock whips up at my car and puts a hole in my windshield, I remark jovially, “Could’ve been worse. It could’ve been a long steel rod that came off the back of a truck and impaled my chest cavity, causing me to bleed internally, and ending my life just outside of Sears – beside the garbage cans – because I wasn’t quick enough pulling into the mall to get help. Whew, am I ever lucky to be alive.”

That’s it, STEP ONE to being happy. Whatever happens, try to see the bright side of things. Like I always tell my kids, “Life is great if you think it is.” Sort of like Miley Cyrus and some of the outfits she wears. She likes them (I assume); she wears them; ipso facto, she looks good – in her mind. It doesn’t matter the rest of the world’s opinion. It’s what Miley thinks about Miley that matters. And you about you.

I’ll admit, seeing the bright side is easier said than done. For example, my daughter and I have had conversations like this one before… “Oh my god, the zipper on my skirt just broke,” she’ll exclaim, running down the stairs on a Saturday night. “What am I going to do? This sort of thing always happens to me whenever I go out. I plan to wear something nice, and somehow, it gets screwed up. Now, I have to change my whole outfit last minute. I’m going to end up looking like a bum.”

To which I reply, “OK, well that’s a huge exaggeration. First of all, you could wear a garbage bag, and you still wouldn’t look like a bum.” She’s tall, young and beautiful – she almost always looks amazing, except when she’s wearing her too-short pajama bottoms, and she pulls them down to level with her hip bones, sticks out her belly like she’s pregnant and groans like she’s about to give birth. Then she just looks scary, mostly because the thought of her having a baby when she can’t even remember to turn off the light in her bedroom is problematic in my mind. “Why don’t you wear any one of the other hundred outfits that you have in your closet?” I reply, trying not to sound too sarcastic, but at the same time, trying to make the point that people aren’t going to be blinded by her hideousness if she can’t wear the damn skirt. Can you say “first world problems”? Exactly.

But that’s young people for you – sometimes, they wallow in their own pity, and they make life difficult when it doesn’t need to be. I was probably the same way once – note that I’m “looking at the bright side of things” here [wink, wink]. When you don’t see that your life is half over, you can be wasteful with time. As you get older however, you value every second. That’s where the ninety-year old grandpa (hairs coming out of his nose and all) not giving a fuck comes from. “Wallowing” when you are almost fifty or sixty or ninety is just stupid. It’s a waste of time when you are twenty as well, but at that age, you just don’t get it. Your biological “you are gonna die soon” clock hasn’t started to tick yet.

Now granted, some things in life are awful – cancer, dying babies, pets having to be put down, war, the aforementioned Miley Cyrus’ clothing choices, etc. That’s all shit, and if you want to cry about it, go ahead. But life isn’t always that way, In fact, it’s not most of the time.

Which leads me to STEP TWO on the path to being happy: you need to associate with happy people whenever and wherever possible. As I said already, you can’t control the world, but you can control yourself. Using another mother/daughter scenario, it’s very hard for ME to escape HER when she can’t find her “I could buy fifty items at the thrift store for the same price as these” sunglasses – and that’s a real “tie me up to a tree in a wet forest, cover me with honey, and let the mosquitos feast” type of situation. But that’s what I get for being a mother – we make our beds sometimes. I will have you know though that I make every effort to go somewhere else when she’s being like this. Obviously, I don’t want to be around the negativity, the yelling and crying, and the occasional (out of frustration on her part) name-calling, so if I can sneak out the back door and walk over to the store while she is running up and down the stairs – more on the “up” part when she isn’t looking – I will. Otherwise, she blocks me, and then I’m doomed to helping her look for the ridiculously priced Tom Fords while she freaks out. What would typically take an eternity for her, takes me about five minutes. Yes, I am a magician – like every other mother.

To reiterate (I’ll say this again and again because it’s important for people to know that they have a choice, and that they can control their environment to a certain extent): try to keep company with happy and uplifting and smart and ambitious individuals. The miserable ones – the ones that ask you if you want to go out for dinner and then expect you to drive AND pay, the ones that say little condescending things like “you are such a bitch” every other second – THOSE ones, when they call and ask you to hang out, tell them that you’ll meet them at Wendy’s (or wherever), and then just don’t show up. Don’t have anyone else? You are better off getting a gerbil, and I don’t recommend that. They aren’t the best cuddlers.

Now, the name-calling thing brings me to my third recommendation for happiness: try NOT take things personally because people WILL say shit, and people WILL be mean, and people WILL try to take advantage. Again, it’s hard – I know – especially because energy is so contagious. Like a rotten apple at the bottom of a barrel, if someone is telling you that you are the “worst finder of sunglasses they’ve ever met”, you might be tempted to believe them. But then you pull the lost accessory out of the pocket of a coat that someone shoved in the back of the hall closet, and you sarcastically exclaim, “I guess I got lucky – again. Just admit it, I’m amazing.” And you walk away, knowing that you truly are.

No, whenever I encounter a person like this, I take a deep breath and say (to myself because it’s not always the best idea to say these things out loud to grumpy people – remember that gun from the beginning of this post), “The fact that you are being difficult or nasty or underhanded or whatever, is about you, not me. It’s about your low self esteem, or your negative ideas about the world, or the fact that you ate half a bag of Oreo cookies all by yourself and you can’t handle the guilt. Whatever the case, it’s not MY problem.” Then I walk away and go make myself a kale/blueberry/tumeric smoothie, or I go pet my cats, doing my very best to forget the preceding event because you MUST purge negativity from your life whenever possible. Note: I said “negativity”, not sarcasm. A person can’t be good at everything.

Final part: Also try to make sure that YOU are not one of those awful people that no one wants to be around. Like a chip in a domino line, each one of us plays an integral part in this thing we call life. Take me or you or any other person out, and the chain breaks. The line of black and white, click-clacking pieces will stop, and in the end, the ball won’t go in the spinny thing, the twirly gadget won’t activate the wooden thingamajig, and the toaster will never get turned on. The world needs me – and you – as insignificant as you or I might seem.

We work together in this universe – that’s what makes each one of us important. From the tiniest snail, to a one-hundred-year-old tree, to Mark Walhberg [wink, wink] – we are ALL integral to one another’s existence. What I do affects you, and what you do, affects me. So be nice. And be kind. And fucking pick up your dog’s poop when you are walking through the park, and stop throwing cigarette butts out your car window. Stop fucking smoking, for that matter. It will make you sick, and potentially kill you. In the time that you are alive, you will likely become a burden on our medical system – into which we all contribute money by way of taxes – and there is really not enough of that to provide good care already.

See – and I know that this is slightly off topic, but too bad, this is MY blog – you have to remember, at some point in the distant past, we were shrews, running around clawing at and probably spraying urine at each other. And this leads me to my final, FINAL point – if we were once shrews, then that means my cats will one day evolve to some higher form of intelligence, and they’ll be wearing Lululemons (even if they don’t workout) and running the White House. Can’t be worse than what happened today. #notmypresident #notmyfuckingcountry #thankgod

Now watch this…

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Author: Amanda Fox

I have three slightly neurotic grown children, three very active and extremely cute cats, and one crazy busy husband. I've been married for more than twenty-five years. I love fitness, fashion, dancing, interior design and architecture, music, and movies.