I have a giant list of Smiley things taped to the wall in my office. I started it when I took the class Awakening Joy (http://www.awakeningjoy.info/). Discussing ways to be more joyful was a very pleasant way to spend one evening a week.
The first night we were told to spend 3 minutes writing down everything that made us happy. What fun! When the 3 minutes were over I was still writing away, just trying to get all the things down before I forgot one while writing another.
A lot of people struggled. Not me. I needed another 3 minutes or even 30 minutes (undercooked brownies, the hot car on a sunny day, 3 day weekends, math puzzles, singing, bubble bath, Scrabble, thick socks, NPR, the hammock). I needed more time, more paper.
Pausing to notice that something is pleasurable is the secret to being happier. But you have to decide to notice. It really is a decision! By labeling a thing or an activity as smiley/joyful, it becomes more so. Talk to yourself with the voice in your head. I do. As I sink in to the bath water I say, “I love hot water.” As I slip between the sheets I sing, “Bed, glorious bed. Soft, fluffy and flannel.” (to the tune of Food, Glorious Food from the musical Oliver). As I put down my empty glass I say, “Boy, do I love cold water.” I don’t do this once, I do it every time.
Making a giant list of happy things is really fun. When I got home I transferred mine onto butcher paper, added a dozen more things and hung it up. Every day or two I think of something else to add (Triple washed spinach, the smell of a cat’s tummy, gulping milk straight from the carton, sourdough toast, getting my back scratched, the Beatles, peanut butter, afternoon light…). Onto it I’ve taped fortune cookie fortunes and headlines & snippets from newspapers.
True, I was lucky to be born a glass-half-full-gal, even a my-cup-runneth-over-gal. But I still believe being happier can be an ongoing, conscious exercise/choice that is available to everyone, but only if you decide that it is.
Smile. Be Happy.
We feature Ruth’s Smiley Blog here on FriendlySuggestions.com. I hope you’ll enjoy reading her friendly suggestions about choosing to live a happier life. We also encourage you to learn more about her cause, gathering smilies to get funding to help children get the facial surgeries they need through Operation Smile! Magical cause! Please learn about it and support her efforts!