Remember when you were a kid? Just take a moment… Take a trip down to memory lane… Remember how happy you were? How free spirited and carefree you felt? I don’t know about you, but anytime I think about my childhood, I smile. As Bryan Adams said in ‘Summer of ’69’, “those were the best days of my life!”
But wait a minute.. how come the best days of my life can’t be ahead of me? As kids, we thought our best days were ahead, but as we got older, we started to think that our best days were behind us. Ah Ha! I hope you had ‘light bulb’ moment, because I did. Think about it, is this the reason why we seemed so happy as kids? Were we happy because we had hope and were optimistic? Now that I got you think, let’s make a “3 Point Turn” and break down some of the things we used to do as kids which contributed to our overall well being and happiness and let’s see if we can implement them in our lives today.
1st Point Turn: Enjoying Responsibilities & Family Time
As kids, we enjoyed responsibilities! We felt a sense of pride when given the chance to be ‘responsible’. We enjoyed helping our parents and smiled anytime they said “good job”. We wanted to help mommy with everything and we wanted to help dad with his duties. At the same time, we enjoyed being around our parents. We couldn’t wait to go home and see our moms after school in kindergarten. We enjoyed family re-unions because that’s when our uncles could act the fool, that was when our 40th cousins came around to play board games and football with us.
Today, we occupy ourselves with so much that we do not have time to spend with friends and family. We run away from our 40th and 50th cousins, and we constantly make excuses to spend quality time with our parents. Yes, our responsibilities have grown as well: we are in school working on various degrees, we have jobs and we have bills, but let me ask you this, are we really enjoying our responsibilities? Our we enjoying going to school? Are we enjoying working? I can read your mind and I agree to the notion that no one likes to take tests or work crazy hours a week only to pay bills; but do we see them as responsibilities we have to enjoy? Whether we like it or not, we will have responsibilities as humans till death, and enjoying these responsibilities can change our attitude and enable us to be more happy.
2nd Point Turn: Saying “No”
Believe it or not, kids know what they want and they know how to communicate that effectively, irrespective of how you feel. Kids don’t care so much about pleasing others. My little niece Oli is barely a year old, and anytime I visit my family in Maryland, I want to see her and play with her. As soon as she sees her mom, she does not know me – yes, she is cold. She will quickly leave my arms and run towards the arms of her mom. My sister will then say “Oli, why are you doing this to Uncle Joe? Let’s got to Uncle Joe”. As I open my arms to receive her again, she will shake her head and crawl back to arms of her mom. She already knows how to say NO! She prefers to be in the arms of her mom, than the arms of her uncle. When Oli gets older, for some strange reason, she will be less comfortable saying no because she will grow to appeal to the desire of others while ignoring hers. I hope she doesn’t change.
As we get older, we begin to become conscious of how people feel – which is a good thing, but should this growth of consciousness stop us from being honest? The happiest people know how and when to say “No” irrespective how the recipient of the answer will feel. They say “no” not because they want to be rude or evil, but simply because they can’t comply with your request. Now, I am not saying we should go around saying “No” to our parents, our bosses, authority, for no apparent reason. Being an adult means being able to decipher when to say “No” and “Yes”. We should not be afraid to say “No” just because we are going to offend someone, or else we end up pleasing people and offending ourselves.
Being happy is not about saying “No” – it is actually about saying “Yes”, but knowing when/how to say “No” will make you better at saying “Yes” and when do you say “Yes”, you will say it meaningfully and a value add will be attached to it. In a nutshell, when you learn to say “No”, you learn to honestly learn to say “Yes”.
3rd Point Turn: Hope & Positive Thoughts
As a kid, I thought I was going to be the greatest soccer player ever! Obviously I thought wrong. Kids will are always hoping for the best and thinking that great things will happen to them. Our positive attitude as humans take a major hit when we being to focus on what we see: hiccups, roadblocks, and setbacks – believe it or not, these become more evident the “older” or “wiser” we get.. It seems as though as kids, we had more faith. We walked more on faith and not by sight. Faith does open doors.
There is nothing wrong with thinking positive and having hope irrespective of your circumstances. Thinking positively and being hopeful forces your overall being to be in a positive atmosphere which promotes a more happy well being. Once you create a positive atmosphere, you begin to feed off of the positive energy around you.
Being negative and being around negative people will only get you depressed. Kids understand this concept.
Drive Off: At the end of the day, you control how happy you want to be. You are in the driver’s seat of your own happiness. What are you going to do?