Happiness, happens...

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by Jen Glantz

Let me start by owning up to the truth: I do, indeed, routinely talk to myself.

When things are not going right, when I’m mad at myself or itsy-bitsy butterflies are doing cartwheels in my belly, I’ll do it. I’ll stare at my frizzy-haired reflection in the bathroom mirror and I’ll say, “Jennifer, pull yourself together.” That’s if I am in a good mood. Normally, I’ll go with something a tad more outrageous such as, “You blonde-haired flamingo, you chose to wear this mismatched, wrinkled outfit today so you will deal with it and you will make it work.”

Even with all my personal pep talks, there are still two times a day when misery stares me in the face: taking the subway to work and taking the subway home again.

One morning I decided enough was enough. I was fresh from Florida with friendliness intact, so I decided that to single-handedly turn that subway car into a cattle-box of happiness! So I did something that New York City seems not to be used to: I made eye-contact and I smiled. Smiles are more contagious than bed bugs, and even the tired-est, most haggard of folks would eventually shoot me an upper lip wiggle.

This experience got me thinking, that there are actually lots of ways that we can turn misery to happiness, every day:

Loud Music & Hidden Dance Moves: My day begins with techno music and is accessorized by inconspicuous dance moves that I bust out while I waltz my way on over to the train. It can work at any hour of the day. To flip your mood, try a good dance track and let go. Wobble around and shake like you have ants in your pants. For best results, do this in front of a full length body mirror so you can occasionally catch a glimpse of yourself at your finest.

Turn It Off: We, my friends, are overloaded. We’re stressed and forced to multitask and compartmentalize so much information throughout the day. I have had way too many joyful days stomped on via a casual perusal of my Facebook newsfeed. Maybe I notice that the bully from third grade is going to be wed, or that some boy I have my eyes on is smooching with a supermodel. I’m not pro deletion of social media because it’s too drastic and unrealistic. But it’s important to turn it off and to look away, sometimes – especially when you are hanging out with REAL, LIVE PEOPLE! Let actual social experiences take precedence, and you’ll find you’re actually living, and loving, life again!

Collect Your Change: We change our underwear daily, but that seems to be the only change we don’t wince about! We so often forget that instead of complaining like a broken record or a Dubstep track, we need to move our apple-bottoms off the couch and do something. We need to deal with the things that give us lingering heartburn. Embracing change can be the path happiness, just make sure you’re changing the right things!

Fight or Flight: Before your head hits the pillow and after you gulp down a glass of warm milk and chow down a handful of cookies, address and fix all the fights and problems that are floating above your head like the LA smog.

Write the Worries: When nouns are causing bubbles to form inside your stomach, project what is making you anxious and uneasy by writing down the worry on one side of the page and writing down potential ways to solve, make better or erase the problem on the other side of the page. Visualization makes things come alive and in turn allows us to deal with them and see, quickly, that they may not be as harsh or scary as we feared.

I once took a 7 am philosophy class while studying at the University of Central Florida and the one thing that stuck like banana in my hair that early in the morning was this lesson from everyone’s good ol’ pal Socrates: The root of “happen” is “hap”, the Middle English word for “chance” or “luck”. That is also the root of the modern English word “happiness”. This is an indication of how little we know ourselves, how materialistic and externalistic and shallow we habitually are. We think happiness “happens.” If we follow the tutelage of “the love of wisdom” we will eventually reach the Socratic level of self-knowledge in which we understand that true happiness never happens; we are responsible for it.

About Jen

Jen GlantzJen Glantz is a 20-something crawling the streets of NYC. You can find her in a tutu and converse, surrounded by overdue library books, pizza crust and the spontaneous combustion of laughter that often shoots the chocolate milk right out of her nostrils. Read more of her writing here: www.thethingsilearnedfrom.com and follow her on Twitter: @tthingsilearned.


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