Without going into details (the guilty would be too easy to identify), I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about deciding to be happy. In the way back, I was not a happy person. Folks who knew me in those days can testify that I was frequently a grumpy curmudgeon.
Shitty job (that paid well). Lots of stress. A LOT of unprocessed issues from much earlier that I have been slowly sorting out and putting to bed for many years.
But not happy.
One day, in early July of 2013, I hit white hot. Simply as angry as I could ever remember being. Burn it all down and salt the earth kind of mad.
Then something weird happened.
I woke up the next morning and realized that I didn’t want to be that guy. Didn’t want the rage to dictate my actions.
Didn’t want to be unhappy anymore.
So I decided to become somebody else. Folks who have known me for long enough can also testify that I have been doing this since at least the mid-80s, if not earlier (I don’t honestly remember at this point). But I had never chosen to be happy.
I had made a lot of bad choices over the years. Defensive one, for the most part, designed to keep people from hurting me.
Then one morning I said “Fuck it, I’m going to be happy instead.”
Decided to make wholesale changes in my life. Stopped drinking soda pop entirely. Stopping shaving. Even stopped cutting my hair. Lost weight and turned into a scruffy nerfherder pretty quickly, but I also let a lot of stress go. Slid right off my back.
It was kinda weird.
I mean, I would wake up excited for the new day, instead of dreading it. The job wasn’t all that great, but it paid a lot and let me do crazy/interesting things with data. And I had a boss who mostly left me alone to solve problems because he had other fires to put out instead.
Part of it was slowly starting to cut negative people out of my life. You know the ones. Folks who answer any and every smile with a snarl. Or bitingly sarcastic viciousness. Gaslighters. Narcissists. The works. I had accumulated too many.
Started fixing that.
The timing was wonderful, too, because about a month later, Fabulous Publisher Babe™ wandered back into my life and asked what I’d been doing for the last five years. I told her that that was a three-beer conversation, so she asked where we were going for beer.
One of my department minions at work ended up keeping the quarter I bet her about how that Saturday date would go. And FPB and I were engaged about nine weeks later.
She had also gone through an interesting patch in spring of 2013, and realized that she wanted to make some serious changes in things. To become someone else.
We met at the right moment, because we were looking to be happier, and realized that each could help the other. We talk. Hold hands. Have entire conversations with a few sounds that include no consonants. (It freaks a few people out, but we can’t help it.)
It is a thing I work on everyday, because I like being happy. Not something I’d experienced for way too long. WAY TOO LONG.
So I grabbed hold and won’t let go.
Circle back to my friend, and some of the things frustrating him. I asked him if he’d rather be happy.
For me, I was a conscious choice. One I make in the morning.
He’s not quite there yet, but I have planted a seed that will blossom. I’ve seen him go through some rough patches in the past, as well as lose some dear friends in the pandemic. But he’s also happier now than he’s been in a long time, and most of the frustration was not recognizing that other folks haven’t made the decision to be happy yet.
They’d rather be crabby. Backbiting. Snarky without purpose. He wants the best for them. I do too, but hardly know them to be able to judge where they are and what they might change that suddenly caused happiness to burst out all over their lives.
But we all need it.
What have you done lately to bring more happiness into your life?