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International Day of Happiness

March 20th was International Day of Happiness.  Let’s take a moment to think about the benefits of having a happy outlook on life.  How might your life benefit?  How might you benefit someone else with your happy outlook?

Consider this:

You wake up one morning with a happy, can-do attitude.  You feel optimistic for the day ahead and are ready for the tasks you need to accomplish for that day.  You greet the day with a mindset that you will be productive and are determined to have a successful day.

Feeling happy and ready to tackle the day, you choose healthy foods to put into your body, knowing the benefits they will have on fueling your body.  Those intentional choices help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and make you feel energized throughout the day.

When you stop at Starbucks to treat yourself to a morning coffee, you look your barista in the eye, ask her how her day is going, and give her a compliment about how her shirt brightens up her eye color.  Doing this makes that barista’s entire day and her own interactions with customers will be take on a sweeter flavor for the rest of the day because of this.  

Before you leave Starbucks, you choose to pay for the order of the car behind you.  For a few extra bucks, you have provided a random act of kindness to a stranger.  It didn’t break the bank, but it made you feel good.  That person is so thankful for the small, unexpected token you have provided that they decide to do the same thing to the car behind them.  And so on.

When you get to work, you provide some positive feedback to your team member.  He worked really hard on a project and the unsolicited recognition you provide instantly brightens his day.  

At lunch, you call your wife just to say hello and tell her you love her.  What she doesn’t tell you is that the baby just spit up on her shirt and that she had just been crying and feeling so ugly about the way she looks.  Your call immediately cheers her up and inspires her to take a shower, put on some makeup, and dress in something other than yoga pants for the day.

That afternoon, you get some discouraging feedback on a project you’ve been working on, but instead of getting down or angry about it, your can-do attitude makes you bounce back quicker and have the resiliency to make the edits then and there and to resubmit.  You know that pushing it off will just bring your down and increase your stress levels.  Happy to have it done, you are now ready to go home.

When you get home, you greet your wife with a long hug and tell her how pretty she looks.  In fact, she is glowing and exudes a confidence that you haven’t seen in a while.  Your baby is happy to see you and gives you lots of smiles with his drooling little mouth.  And your little boy jumps into your arms and squeals with joy and a giggle.  You take him and the dog out into the backyard and play ball together, knowing that the work you still need to finish can wait.  In fact, when you do get to the work later that evening, you feel more creative and make better decisions because of the fresh air and quality family time you had earlier.

As you lay down to bed that evening, you review all of the moments in your day with a sense of gratitude.  You and your wife fall asleep in each other’s arms, and you drift off into a peaceful sleep.

Consider this:

What you don’t realize is the ripple effect of positivity and happiness that you provided to so many people that day by the choice YOU made to wake up with that can-do, happy attitude.  You see, you could have woken up grumpy and the day could have gone much differently for you, and thus for all of those other people.  

For the barista who had been feeling depressed because she recently broke up with her boyfriend.  Or the person behind you at Starbucks who had just lost her mom to cancer.  Or the colleague whose work you praised who was planning to give his resignation notice at the end of the day because he didn’t feel his work mattered to anyone.  Or to your wife, whose self-esteem had plummeted after not being able to get back to her pre-baby body.  Or your son, who could have been easily let down by a dad who chose to put work over time spent with his boy.  Each of these people were positively influenced because of YOU.  Because of the choices YOU chose to make when you woke up that morning.

Happiness is a choice each of us can choose each new day.  It is a free gift that can be handed out to others.  Sure, it may sound too good to be true.  But you would be amazed at how this one small intentional action can positively influence yourself and those around you.  Even if you are sad or feeling overwhelmed, try it out for a day and see if you are able to surprise yourself into having a happier day.  

It’s the small things that count in life.  The little changes that we can make that turn into the big ones.  And you never know how each small act of kindness to someone else can cause them to reciprocate those gestures and pass them along to someone else, who passes them along to someone else, and so on.  My challenge to you is to try to be happy sometime this week and pass it along to someone else.  Be the change you want to see in the world.  

Happy International Happiness Day, friends!

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