Q: I have a friend who is always so happy! Nothing seems to worry her. She finds good in everybody and everything, no matter how bad or sad they or it appear to be. Is this some quirky trick of the brain? And is it something I can have as well?
A: Happiness and exuberance are highly valued ways of living. We love the company of relaxed, happy people who lift our spirits and make our day memorable. We feel so much better in the presence of those who tap into a reliable supply of joy and happiness.
Hunter “Patch” Adams said, “The three grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, someone to love and something to hope for.” Adams reminds us that happiness isn’t something that we will obtain by specifically going after it; it is more of a consequence, a result, an outcome, a by-product.
A cursory glance at advertising suggests the source of happiness will be found in obtaining things: the new car, an upgrade in the way we live or where we live, a certain perfume, exotic destinations or those new body-shapers that make you look a million dollars. But those who are well-off don’t have a monopoly on happiness!
Joy and happiness tend to come along when we concentrate on someone or something else. If we say to ourselves, “I am going to be happy today,” we may feel like a failure the moment we feel discouraged or disheartened. But if we begin by saying, “Who can I help out today?” or “What difference can I make in the life of a colleague, family member or neighbour?” we may find that a true sense of contentment and joy will follow.
One of the best reminders about happiness comes from Helen Keller, the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, who said, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.”
The next time you see your friend, ask her if she has a favourite saying about happiness that she keeps clearly in mind. It could be one by Dale Carnegie, author of the bestselling book How to Win Friends and Influence People: “Throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it and you will find happiness that you thought could never be yours.”