If you’ve ever watched a child on a swing or running in the sand at the beach, you know. That simple, wild abandon. The sheer joy. How are they so able to enjoy life and the little things? To be so … happy? “Well,” you grumble, “…they don’t have to work 9-5, …they don’t have a horrible boss, …they don’t have bills to pay.” But the answer is easier. They live in the present.
You know how it goes. “Five more minutes!” you holler. Then, when five minutes are up and you announce it’s time to go, they are shocked and hurt. As if you’d never warned them at all. They didn’t spend their last five minutes being miserable. They happily resumed playing.
Now, you may have some adult-like child who’s different, but in general they forget the bad news that it’s all drawing to a close and soak up the remaining fun.
I have a friend who ruins the last half-hour of her massage thinking how it’s about to be over. “Oh, he’s on my legs. Then it’ll be my arms and then it’s over. Oh, he’s on my left arm. Then it’ll be my right arm and then it’s over.” And so on.
The secret to being happy is being positive in the present. The way we think, the way all of society operates, is that if x happens (we get the promotion, buy the new house, make the bonus,) then we’ll be happy. We delay our own gratification, always changing the goal, thereby putting happiness out of reach. It should work in reverse. A brain that is happy performs at a higher level, making all those other things possible. Listen to this TED talk on the subject. (Make sure you’ve got your thinking cap on. This guy talks at warp speed.)
To train your brain to be more positive, try the following. (It’s suggested for 21 days in a row, but that’s a little daunting to me. I say anything’s better than nothing.)
~ 3 Gratitudes
~Random Acts of Kindness
Personally, I think I’ve got this positive brain stuff down. I’m happier than most. Particularly, given my situation. You know, the wheelchair and all. That’s why I tend to get annoyed when someone starts positive thinking me to death. “Keep working hard! Never give up! Never say never and you’ll walk again.” The problem with this thinking is that it makes my happiness dependent on a particular outcome (walking again) that may never happen. I need to be happy today. With what I’ve got right now. Right this second. If I never walk again.
And you know what? I am.