The other day the boys and I were hitting on all cylinders and life was really good!
Work is usually pretty fun and that day didn’t disappoint.
Our Lunch break = workout and we had a funny drive over to the gym.
To be Serious, we are a bunch of funny dudes and it was like being in the middle of the Def comedy jam on the way over. Lights out Funny! Well, there was a lot less bling in the crowd and truth be told, two white guys and one mexican dude in a pickup just AINT the Apollo, but other than that, we were on fire! We laughed the whole way to the gym.
It felt good. It made me feel alive.
Obviously, feeling like that, we had a great workout – laughing and joking while getting our pump on. The feel good continued on as we then proceeded to the grocery to pick up our lunch.
While at the grocery store I had a smile like my man deCaprio over here…
Just smug and alive and ON POINT.
OK, I’ve set the mood, now on to the story…
I observe a lot – I love to people-watch and something seemed out of place this afternoon.
Within a minute it was obvious. That something was us. We were out of place. I told the boys to just look around. Observe. Nobody was smiling.
It was like the Twilight Zone. Erie. Like a scary movie I could imagine I heard noise like a child’s music box running down and everyone started to slow down their movements. Just creepy…
Nobody – not ONE soul was smiling. Not a store clerk, not a customer, drivers of cars and especially not a single person in the fast food restaurants we were walking past.
Being who I am, I made a game out of it – I challenged the guys to make someone smile. Pay it Forward as it was.
It’s Christmas time! Everyone I know contests to spreading CHEER and most folks have wooden signs with carvings on them with words of JOY and LOVE and “‘Tis the season.”
So where is the love and the JoyBombs? It’s Christmas time and it’s GONE!
My guess is it’s all been blown up so much we just have built up a tolerance to it. It’s like sugar and caffeine. Too much and it backfires!
The ad’s, the pressure,, the expectation that we need to be amped up happy like Will Ferrel on ELF 24/7…crazy, giddy, border line wild.
So where is it is the mystery I need to solve? Someone or someTHING has stolen the smiles. Where are they?
As a amateur detective I have to start with leads and follow a direction.
I am 100% positive you won’t find it in the bottom of that paper sack full of french fries. If the grocery store is any indication, it’s not in the millions of yummy, chocolates and nummy’s they have stocked. Doesn’t seem to be in the lines either, not the TV’s nor the toys…
It’s lost. And trying to find happiness and smiles is what I feel is the actual problem. We’re looking too hard. We’re trying to FIND it. it’s lost, probably tough to find.
My take? Forget finding it. Let’s just create more.
I’m no expert at emotional control guys so I’m trying not to judge too much. I am a thinker so allow me to offer a few pointers that might allow for more smiling and less scowling and misery. Especially during the Holiday mashup of worldwide religion and festivus.
First off – Realize this pursuit of happiness is in vain – it’s not out there floating around obtained by some enlightened few and just out of reach to the uninitiated. You definitely can’t judge happiness by what you see…even double that for social media.
example: The posts I left on Facebook were at a great time in my life and I looked my best- it’s not EPIC here every second, heck, I picked up dog poop in the backyard today and even yelled at my kids last night on the way home…it’s not always perfect!
Happiness and smiles are fleeting and on and off but mostly function as a small trickle, like a garden hose left half turned on, to be soaked up by the dinner plate dahlias and starfighter lilies. On a scale of 1-10 we all naturally gravitate towards a 7.
So when you feel like a ten – it’s a surge. It’s a crest of a wave. If you want a boost, then you have to create some waves yo!
Some simple tricks:
#1 To be happy, you only need to do something nice for someone else.
Seriously – it’s that easy. Make somebody else happy and it pays back 1.5 – like Blackjack. Even it’s just the smugness of anonymously buying the next guy in line a coffee you’ll ride that crest of secrecy and goodness for a while. The longer you keep it a secret and don’t tell your friends the longer you ride it.
On that point, a little smugness can go a long way. Don’t doubt me here. Go out to dinner with some friends and order the salad. Feels good huh? Whatever, you know you feel smug when you eat a salad. My clinic is right next to a Little Caesars’ pizza place – I can feel dietary smugness at will. All I have to do is eat a salad and watch the guys walking in and out all lunch break long.
#2 Finish something
Ask my wife…I will have a crappy weekend unless I have some sort of manual labor task to accomplish. It can be as easy as changing a bike tube on the kids’ ride or planting a new tree or seed. Give me a man project like Christmas Lights or chain saw a few branches and my weekend is made! If you are skilled and talented enough to actually have a craft, such as my brother in law Nelly…(he’ll make you outdoor chairs with matching fire pit while sharing a Coors with you over an afternoon)..well if you have that kind of skills – you can basically turn your fleeting happiness wave into high tide. Ride that pony for hours and days.
Just brush off all the other “crap” that’s “so important” in your life for a while and play with your kids and/or pets. Throw a ball, play some hoops, hide and seek whatever. Do it. You See, kids have this smile fun thing figured out. It doesn’t have to last for hours and hours, it just has to be right now. Kids enjoy their fun in 5 minute segments and are just fine with that. The problem does not arise until the teenage years through our OH, 70’s to 90’s, as we are certain that we felt fun nonstop, full time ON through our youth and we want to get that feeling back now. But, We didn’t. We did it with play in brief episodes but often.
Play works nearly all the time.
#4 Imagine yourself naked
I know our speech professor as a college frosh told us to imagine the crowd naked and no doubt that indeed makes me smirk, but if you want to have fun, flip the equation around. I’m more than happy and find it insanely funny to the point of actually smiling to imagine myself on the freeway or walking around Best Buy completely buck ass naked. You may think that’s strange, but I’d guess you’re smiling right now as you listen to this. No harm – no foul, I’m not telling you to actually get naked. Just imagine it.
Let your brain have these experiences that aren’t so concrete in reality and it’s like having a super power. I still love the movie Walter Mitty for that one idea alone. The ability to create your own alternate reality. Honestly, your brain probably doesn’t really know the difference anyway. The dopamine it shoots out is real enough I can promise you that.
#5 Create a mild sensation change.
This is simple. Cold shower, Loud 90’s rock or my recent favorite, Wear headphones at the grocery store. I know…we all hate those dudes that have their ears plugged in public but just for a smile, try it. Shopping to your own playlist is life altering.
Crazy isn’t it – its like having a secret. Bonus smiles if its 90’s Gangsta Rap that curses or crazy fun music like Bert Kaemfert etc.
#6 Tag You’re it
Play the smile game – first one to make 10 people smile wins. Easy and fun and the world wins.
That’s plenty to get started.
Note: I didn’t include stuff like “buy something for yourself”, “supersize that sucker”, “get the car, you deserve it.”
Despite all we’re promised from the commercials and ad’s, I’m fairly positive you cant buy happiness.
Now true, these thing may indeed bring you some brief joy and a smile. I’d smile like a mofo if I was driving down the beach in a red convertible corvette but being true to myself, that’s one crazy expensive dose of fun and joy. Most likely it’s actually two sided fun meaning there’s a strong possibility of second thought and even regret following it.
A lot of purchases for fun and thrills are this variety. And therein lies our dilemma. I think as a society, heck as humans we chase the idea of purchasing our joy. Because It works. It’s the positive feedback loop that I’m sure Maslov was talking about.
However, it’s dry and too turbulent. It’s fleeting. It’s got too many swings and ups and downs. It’s instant gratification and simply NOT GOOD ENOUGH. This article is about simplicity, it’s not about hard work, cost and energy.
It’s definitely not about guilt from fast food, and pains and aches of long term bad decision making and expensive purchases that don’t pay off long term.
It’s just as simple as smiling more. So do it.
NOTE: So now I need your help. In a year and a half of doing this web page I have wanted that one “boom” article that generated comments and kept the party going. This, by no means, is my BEST article nor it is ground breaking nor life altering. It is however the one that could be added to and expanded the most by you all!. If each of you would just take the 30 seconds to write your “trick of the trade” below, together we would all be elevated in the smiles game! And honestly, we could all use a few more in our bag of tricks.