There is a happiness conspiracy afoot and I’m starting to get concerned. Messages of happiness have been pummeling me from all directions. It’s barely noon and I’ve already seen happy-faced emojis sprinkled throughout my incoming text messages, a “Life is Good” bumper sticker on the car in front of me at school drop off, inspirational quotes in my Facebook feed from fabulously happy websites, and a talking piece of pottery telling me to be happy. Well, that last one isn’t entirely accurate. My daughter gave me this lovely little decorative dish for my birthday. It’s designed to hold odds and ends, and the words “be happy” are painted on the bottom (of which which I was reminded this morning after picking up the earrings it was happily holding for me).
Don’t get me wrong; these messages of happiness are most welcome. I certainly prefer them to the alternative: receiving devil-faced emoji-filled text messages, seeing abused puppy photos posted on social media or an Anarchy bumper sticker plastered on the back of a car weaving in and out of traffic and barely missing a pack of third graders biking to school. I appreciate posts and encounters with bright and happy images, and beautiful scenes of nature just as much as the next person. But what seems to be missing along with all those happy images and inspirations is the instruction manual on how to reach that happy state. Are seeing the positive images alone supposed to make one happy? Is it simply all about expressing gratitude? Or can one just “be happy” as my pottery implies? Well, I don’t believe you can feign happiness for very long, nor believe it’s healthy to try. So I’m going to let you in on my little secret about how to go about being happy — yes, I’d like to help the happiness conspiracy out there complete its mission.
It’s all about attitude.
Thirteen years ago, I came across a quote photocopied on a sunny yellow sheet of paper. The quote was titled, Attitude, and was accredited to a man named Charles R. Swindoll (don’t worry, I didn’t know who that was either.) My husband and I decided to tack it up on the wall in our home office because it seemed like a positive message to have on the wall of a young family (as an aside, I like to hang up bits and pieces of fun finds in my home). It wouldn’t be until years later, though, that I’d realize just how spot on that darn quote was and what a profound impact it would ultimately have in my daily life.
“What the heck did the quote say?!” I can hear you screaming at your screen while giving it a good shake. Well, wait no further. It read like this…
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church….a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.”
Booyah! I challenge you to wake up each morning with that reminder emblazoned on your coffee mug and not have a better day. Actually, scratch that. It would have to be one very large coffee mug to fit that entire quote and I’m not so sure said container of coffee is particularly healthy. So how about we just go with one simple thing printed on your average-sized coffee mug instead: B+. Did you catch that? The plus sign after the letter B? No, no — it’s not the grade I received on every math test in high school. It’s a simple message to be read as follows: be positive. And when you’re taking a sip from that emblazoned mug, everyone in your home will see it and benefit from the message too.
Make the choice right now to react in a more positive way to situations in your life. Your attitude is the one thing you actually have control over. You can either get through your day with a positive one or a crappy one. The choice is yours. I hope you choose the former and make yourself, those around you, and the pottery gods a happier bunch. I truly believe that if you want happiness in life, having a positive attitude is what helps you get there. So what do you say?