This post was originally shared on September 16, 2014.
"No but really, stop! You're genuine happiness may rub off on me! You definitely can't be from New York. Why are you always so damn happy?"
I'm sorry, what? Being happy is a problem? When did having a good, happy disposition become a negative thing? Am I doing something wrong?
Now, I have to admit, it's not always in an accusatory tone, but I've found that people are shocked by my genuine "happiness". They aren't used to it and certainly don't expect it. This shocks me!
I guess if blame is to be given, I'll have to take you on a journey to a small, historical "farm town" in the valley heart of a Connecticut, just south of Hartford. (I quote farm town as the once red barns with cows strolling in the paddocks have nearly fallen and veggie stands are few and far between the large highways and new housing developments, but once a year returns for one weekend in October where we pretend to give a hoot about tractor pulls, livestock, best blueberry pies, largest pumpkins but mostly deep, fried anything.) If you went to preschool with someone, you graduated high-school 17 years later with them and knew every member of their family and where they work now. It was the kind of town where everyone knew your name and a trip to the grocery store was more of a social gathering than errands. "How's your __insert random family member here__?" was usually just the beginning to an afternoon of catch-up.
Cue just a small town girl....living in a lonely, wait, now is not the time for Don't Stop Believing. (Is there ever not a good time for it?) But, it was in that small town, where you know everyone and greet them with a smile, or more occasionally, a hug, that I mastered my cheerful demeanor. In going through old yearbooks and scrapbooks saved from my youth, I found a quote a classmate wrote about me in elementary school, "Margaret is always laughing, and when she laughs her face turns as bright as a tomato and I laugh too!" I always tried to make people laugh or smile, and why not? If I have something to offer that makes someone feel better, why not share. I didn't really belong to a specific clique but had friends from church, chorus, various sports I attempted, and classes all mixing together. I always found ways to chat with the teachers, notorious for sneaking out to the nurses office just to "say hi".
Throughout my life, as I've referenced before, my father would always say "thank your lucky stars." You're all probably sick of hearing me quote that well, suck it up (another one of Dad's key phrases), but it's true, we can't always choose what cards we are dealt in our lives, illness, death, birth, success, and joyous moments come whether we want them or not. Although I paint a picturesque childhood, there were definite moments of darkness, moments of vulnerability for myself and my family in which happiness was hidden by tears and worry. Those stars my father talked about were sometimes blurry or hidden behind clouds, but always were there when the sun set each night. You wake up in the morning, you thank your stars. You have the opportunity to work in a healthy, safe environment with others, you thank your stars. You eat meals, travel, explore and experience new things, you thank your stars. You interact and enjoy the company of others, you thank your stars. You love those around you, family, friends and strangers, because one day, they could be gone. There will come a time when your eyes wont open to the stars, so enjoy them while they shine.
It sounds like a Nora Ephron quote or a lyric from some twangy, country hunk, but we forget that our time could be over before we know it or more importantly, before we check off all of those things we thought we could have time for. What if we made everyday bucket list worthy? I'm not saying to sign up to jump out of a plane, or tattoo your entire body, or even make some huge romantic gesture, but if that's what you want to do, go for it. What if we made it just a bit easier? What if we just said "hello" like we actually meant it. Look into the person's eyes and smile! Did it kill you? No, then do it again! I'm not saying that we are going to move mountains with this, but if you're smile or attitude helps someone else, then shouldn't we keep trying.
It may sound cheesy, but who doesn't love cheese? I like being happy and I'm sorry if that somehow brings someone unnecessary joy. Heaven forbid! And, fake it til ya make it! There are some days that just getting out of bed feels like the biggest job, but we do it. You go through the steps like you're actually enjoying yourself and, oh wow, look at the time, the day's almost over. Laughing at a joke, or making a joke myself, keeps me focused on the good out there. Ask someone about their day, or about a vacation, try to bring the happiness out of them. We could all use it!
Strive to have someone ask you "why are you so happy?" then answer "Why not?"
(ps if you can't seem to summon even a smile, think of someone farting...that is always funny!)