How to Stay Sweet in a Sour World

“You’re always so happy.”

I get that a lot, and it’s true. I am happy…much happier than most people I know.

These days, it’s unusual to find someone whose baseline is happiness. What I mean by baseline is the most common state the person is in. If you walked into your coworker’s office without knocking (rude much?), what would be the expression on her face?

A sleepy, dazed look?

A grumpy scowl?

A burned-out-please-let-this-day-be-over expression?

What about your partner or children? What emotion is on their faces when they think no one is looking?

I once heard a great piece of advice (probably from Oprah). You should greet people the way you want to be greeted. Your face should light up when someone comes into the room. Your smile should be warm, welcoming, and accepting.

I try to remember that when I’m going about my day. I fix my face into a relaxed, yet content, expression. If someone needs to talk to me (Chris, a cashier, a lost tourist), they instantly know I’m a helpful, non-intimidating person. It annoys me when a cashier asks the person in line ahead of me a simple question, and the customer answers with a snarl, as if she’s so much more important than the cashier.

You might believe that you have every right to have a baseline of grumpiness. There are wars going on, your family may be a mess, and what about obesity, the economy, and climate change? OK, I’m not here to deny you your right to be a grouch if you want to be.

But adopting a sweet disposition will make everything in your life better. I promise.

So how did I get to this place of baseline happiness? How do I manage to stay sweet in a sour world? It’s not always easy, and sometimes I have to fake it. But I follow one principle every day: I choose to be happy.

It has to be your choice in every moment of your day, no matter if the situations you encounter are “good” or “bad.” When I kiss Chris goodbye, I focus on being a happy family. When an author sends me a nasty e-mail, I focus on how happy I am to have a job (and that I’m not the author). When I’m getting tired in my aerobics class, I focus on how happy I am to be able to move and dance.

Does this sound like I’ve become Pollyanna? Well, maybe I have! But here’s the thing: focusing on the sweet things has improved every aspect of my life. My marriage is happier, my job is more fulfilling, and life seems more beautiful.

What’s your baseline emotion? Do you get stressed out or angry about what’s going on in the world?

How do you focus on happiness in your life?

1 Comment

  1. K.B. on March 19, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    liaten to ellie gouldings “sweet disposition” cover while walking down the street.. or just anywhere, close your eyes and feel it overcome your mind and body.