An Exercise in Happiness

There are probably a million blog posts about finding happiness. I know, I’ve read plenty of them. But the truth is, you don’t “find” happiness. What you have to do is accept happiness. You have the power already. You can be 100% happy, if only for a few minutes. All you need to do is exercise the muscle. Sounds a little crazy, I know. But it’s an exercise in perception. There might be a starving kid in a poverty-stricken country who is often more “happy” than you are because some days he gets a full meal and to him that’s everything while you sit and wallow in your quarter-million dollar house with a fully stocked pantry about the person you’re crushing on not calling or having to go to work at a job you hate. You might experience the same level of sorrow as that boy who can’t even fathom the life of luxury you live, because you cannot fathom his troubles. Happiness is relative and that’s why thinking is often the key to unlocking more of it. If you’re like me and automatically go into panic mode when you are advised to “meditate”, then there’s a simple exercise that you can practice often and we won’t label it with that scary “m” word.

The other day I went to one of those Meet Up groups that a friend of mine was hosting. This particular meeting topic was the Law of Attraction, a concept many of my business partners and I are fascinated by. My friend started off the meeting with a little group activity. He challenged each of us to think for three minutes, in silence, and recall the happiest day of our lives. We could then go around the room and share them, if we liked. I opted out of the sharing…despite the fact that I’m an award-winning salesperson and have spoken in front of hundreds of people before, when I’m the newbie in a group of peers I’m actually quite introverted. But the exercise was eye-opening for me. During those three minutes I quickly identified the happiest moment of my life, and then came up with my top 5. After only three minutes I felt a giant pillar of stress fall off of my shoulders, I felt lighter, more energized, happier. I started to think about how powerful our brains are. I’ve read all the books before, The Secret, The Power of Positive Thinking, As a Man Thinketh, etc. But it all really clicked after this one exercise. I could feel a difference– physically, mentally, spiritually. And thinking for one minute would not have accomplished this change. So try this. Close your eyes. Recall the memory, but take it a step further. Recall the exact feeling, the location, what the people around you looked like, what you touched and heard and smelled. Go back to that moment. And take that happiness and just embrace it. Don’t judge your own memory. On the outside it might have not seemed like an extraordinary moment, or occasion. But only you know what memory really makes you happy. For instance, one of my top 5 is a random day during the summer after my junior year of high school. I went with my friends to the beach. The weather was perfect all day, but the skies opened up during our drive back home and it was pouring down rain. I remember having to pee and we were nowhere near a gas station and the rain was only making my predicament worse. So my awesome friends pulled over on the side of the road, two of the guys went out in the rain and held a huge towel over me and I squatted, right on the side of the road. We were all laughing so hard we couldn’t differentiate the raindrops from the hysterical tears streaming down our faces. When we finally made it home we were soaked and cold and salty and we took turns taking showers at my house and I remember it being the best damn shower I’d ever had in my life. Then we changed into pajamas and spent the rest of the afternoon eating snacks and watching movies while the storm raged on. In my eyes, it was an absolutely perfect day. One that makes me happy just to recall again now. As I was typing the details, I could feel my heart swell and a smile come across my face.

So try it for yourself. It could be just your happiest memory, or a top 5. You can’t wear out this exercise, for me it’s now worked a few dozen times. But if you ever stop getting the same results as the first time, pick another memory. We are all blessed to have plenty to choose from, and if you doubt that then you are really in dire need of this assignment. For the record, my other top 4 memories:

  1. The day my mom told me she was getting married to someone who made her so incredibly happy. The look on her face is the only thing I need to remember from that moment.
  2.   The day Chris first said “I love you.” We were sitting at 54th street bar just talking about football and it was unexpected and perfect.
  3. Sitting on my Papa’s lap sharing a root beer, with my Grandma watching Days of Our Lives and Anna playing with toys on the floor. I was only four or five, but I remember that night my papa told me I was the protector of my family. I don’t know if I understood that night, but I definitely did later, and I’ve always held that close to my heart.
  4. A random 4th of July spent with family eating and playing board games and watching movies until it got dark outside and then my dad and uncle built a replica of some terrorist’s headquarters and we spent a small fortune on fireworks and blew it to smithereens. We laughed and laughed and it was one of the last times that whole side of my family was together for a holiday including my sister and my cousins.

I have plenty more, surrounded by friends and family and sometimes just by my dogs. So I’m making it a point, on those days I’m sad or angry or just don’t have the right perspective, to exercise. It’s definitely made a difference, and it’s much cheaper than therapy 🙂

So what was the happiest day of your life?

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4 thoughts on “An Exercise in Happiness

  1. There is a play called Out Town, by Thornton Wilder. In the play one of the characters, Emily, who is dead is able to choose one day to come back to “visit” for one day. Emily will be able to see what happened, but no one will be able to see her. She is told not to choose the most important day, but the least important day because it will be “important enough.” The idea here is that humans neglect to really “live” and that if we actually treasured the moment, that it would be “enough.” Your happiest memories are a testament to this idea. They are simple, yet they are “enough”to sustain you for the rest of your days.

    Liked by 1 person

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