I think you have to be on a valium drip to be happy all the time. For the sake of full discloser, I’ll tell you that I’m certainly not happy every second of the day. However, your motive should be trying to be happy.
Being in a good mood or having a peppy personality is not a disposition you are born with or without. You have options and choices, which I’ve proved many times on my radio program. I’ve had so many callers who were initially negative, but by the end of our discussion, they were laughing. What happened?
Their mood changed.
Your level of happiness is a learned skill. A lot of you come from a background where your family was warm, happy, cheerful, and supportive, so you’ve learned those skills. However, some of you haven’t. Some of you are just too lazy to learn them, or you have been given too many perks for being mopey. For me, I grew up in a house where everybody was always annoyed. My parents didn’t walk around being cheerful and pleasant. So, I didn’t learn those skills. Nevertheless, I sure learned how dangerous the world could be by just watching them arguing and complaining. It was horrible.
So, what are some of these skills?
First, you can only have one thought at a time. I had a caller who was beaten by his dad all the time while he was growing up. He had come to associate physicality with something bad. On the air, I had him close his eyes and go right back into one of those experiences where his dad was beating him. You could hear his breathing change. But then I asked him to think about his wife sitting next to him and imagine her touching his face softly. He started tearing up. We did this back and forth three times to prove that he could put his head anywhere he wanted to.
He learned that he needed to have only one thought in his mind at one time, and that’s true for all of us. You decide what your thought is going to be. If you start thinking about all the horrible things that might happen, then they may happen. However, if you put your thoughts toward how you are going to handle something, you can immobilize your fear.
Another essential part of being happy is to think positively. The negative stuff gets replaced when you see the outcome positively. And it’s also very important for you to sometimes take your brain out of an action and allow your body to do what it knows it needs to do. For example, when you’re having sex with your spouse, your body knows what it needs to do. That’s why I tell people to fantasize and go wherever they want to go. Just disengage your brain.
In order to be happy, you also need to be motivated about something. This is where being a maniac comes into play (I think the happiest people are maniacs, and I don’t mean it in a psychiatric sense). You have to be a maniac on a mission. What is it you want to make happen? When you dive into something with a lot of energy, optimism, and commitment, your life will be happier. People without a purpose are not happy people. Wishy-washy people are never happy and they are not successful. You have to be able to take risks and make decisions. If you take a risk and you fail, then you take another risk. If you take a risk and it was a mistake, then you repair it and do it again. You have to have strong ambitions about something (and I’m not talking about making a lot of money – that usually doesn’t work).
You also need to have the gumption to make changes from where you are now. A lot of people like to stay in their comfort zones or in their familiar surroundings. A lack of familiarity makes them uncomfortable, and a lot of times people try to stay comfortable even if it’s bad, stupid, or destructive. But just because you’re familiar with something, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get anywhere with it.
Lastly, you have to be tenacious. Life requires persistence. The people who are ultimately successful at being happy are the ones who can delay happiness. For example, people who shack up do it because they want the gratification of having a relationship without the work of building one. They think, “I want my gratification now. I don’t want to work slowly in a respectful, modest way and take my time. I want sex now. I want to feel like I’m intimate and committed now.” However, that’s when everything blows up. Kids who grab the marshmallow are not the happiest – the ones who earn it are.
If you want to be loved, you have to earn it. Jumping in bed instantly, shacking up, and being ridiculous doesn’t earn love. If you want to be loved, you’re going to have to take the time to build love, awe, and respect. People who are impulsive and refuse to delay gratification just can’t keep plugging. That’s why their relationships and their businesses don’t work out because it takes years sometimes with no gratification whatsoever to build something that can sustain itself. If you look at orthodox versions of various religions, it’s no surprise to see practices like couples not holding hands until after they’re married. They delay physical gratification to learn about each other and become more mature. They earn their relationships, and THEN they get the cherry on top.