Back again with another square for your Dear Daughter quilt. I know you liked my last letter, especially the cake part. Not sure I can offer cake this time, but we will see.
This letter is about being happy.
Some people seem to float through life being happy, with no effort. A constant smile. Some people seem constantly sad and see no good*. The classic half-full or half-empty glass approaches to life. Most of us move between the two states, and several degrees in between. I am a half-full kind of gal, an optimist and happy person, but I have my moments. We all do.
When I was carrying you, people would ask me if I wanted a girl or a boy. I used to say that so long as you were happy and healthy, I didn’t mind. (Your father’s response was that he’d like a puppy, but he was only joking…..well I think he was!) I wanted you to be well set up to cope with whatever life threw at you. Being happy is a good step in that direction.
It’s difficult to write about happy without a passing nod at least to the other side of the coin: sadness. They both exist. Inexplicitly linked. It is a rare person that does not experience both at some stage of their life. The optimist inside me, suggests that we have to experience some sadness so that we can fully appreciate happiness. Maybe happy people are able to flip the coin to the happy side more quickly and easily.
This is the real point of my letter, I want to pass on some of my tips on how to be happy. Ten steps to flipping the coin to the happy side!
1. Smile. I think this may be the biggest tip. When you smile it releases a hormone that gives you a happy feeling. Even a fake smile, will help, and hopefully the smile will soon turn into a real one.
2. Smile. Again? Yes. If you smile at someone, even a stranger passing by, then you may receive a smile back. We often feel better being surrounded by smiling people as its less stressful. (if they look at you strangely, don’t worry, just see the funny side of it.)
3. Look for a silver lining. There is always one and don’t argue with me on this point. I’m your mother. Things can feel bad and they become worse as you dwell on them. If you can find a silver lining in the situation, then maybe you can see a way through. It may not chase the bad away, but it could put you in a different position to cope with it.
4. Celebrate the little things. Obvious to make a fuss of the big events, but some little moments of success can disappear without even a high 5 . Maybe you figure out how to do something at last, or get a better mark in a test than you imagined. No certificate issued, but why not do a little dance of joy or run round the garden for a lap of honour. Sounds daft, but see how you feel afterwards!
5. Avoid bucket dipping. I hear you groan. At 11 you are too old for the Have You Filled A Bucket Today? book (which really deserves its own blog post), but the message is still good. Being mean to someone will not bring happiness. You will never get that happy feeling at someone else’s expense. (hitting your brother will not make you happy – as if you would!!!!).
In fact, the complete opposite is true. Bucket filling (or, in other words, doing something genuinely nice for someone else) will bring happiness.
6. Sing a silly or happy song. As loud and as silly as you like. Pretty much provides same effect as smiling, but works better in some situations more than others.
7. Practise saying and thinking the positive. Next time you are about to say something that went badly, try saying it using positive words. Choose “yet” instead of “never”. “How do I?” instead of “can’t”. May need to couple it with the silver lining point too. Trust me. Try it.
8. Being content. Yes, the grass always seems greener over the fence. It’s easy to focus on the bad or to see what we don’t have. So a good exercise, when you feel like you are missing out, is to remind yourself about what you have already. List it if you need to.
9. Take somethings with a pinch of salt. If someone says or does something that saps your happy feeling, stop and think about their motive. Are they jealous? Has someone said it about them? What advantage is it for them to say it? Are they unhappy and looking for comfort in numbers? Often a comment says more about the person saying it than the person on the receiving end.
10.Finally, in the unlikely event that all of those fail, eat chocolate. Oh, yes. Not too much, but it helps to release a hormone that gives you that happy feeling.
Coin flipped to the happy side, yet? Good. Just as I hoped before you were born, I wish you happiness now (not furry, as your father hoped.)
your loving mother
*Please note: I am writing about the choice of being happy or sad. I am not referring to people that suffer from depression, which is on a whole different scale.
So are you a glass half full or half empty kind of person?
Joining in with #MotivationalMonday over at: