HAPPY HOUR: STORIES WE TELL OURSELVES
I walked by a local restaurant the other day and a sign outside blared, “Happy Hour 5 – 6 pm Daily!”. I realize this is just a marketing ploy, but it got me thinking about the stories we tell ourselves that in many cases drive behaviors and emotions in very negative ways. Think about all the people who spend all week long in misery and can’t wait for Friday to arrive so they can start enjoying themselves. They declare to themselves and their co-workers, “…this week is dragging on, when will Friday finally get here so I can have some fun?!” And on Monday the conversation turns to how terrible it is that there are a whole 5 days until they can be happy again….
Or more sadly, consider the people who can’t wait until they turn 65 (or whatever age) so they can retire and finally start enjoying life… Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, going through the motions so that their ‘real’ life can finally begin (of course many find that the grass is not greener on the other side of retirement and miss the challenges of work, comradery of co-workers, etc.).
If you take a BIG step back, get far away from the stories that others tell us and that we tell ourselves – that work is bad, that fun only happens on the weekends, etc. – we are just creatures living on a tiny spec of rock floating through vast amounts of space. The notion of weekday and weekend is just a concept that humans came up with. Yet our entire moods can be changed because it ‘feels’ like a Monday. Almost everything we think, everything around us, is a story created by humans, whether it is the notion of cupid and the heart being the symbol for love, major religions, or the 40 hour work week.
But happiness, the ultimate goal of human existence, knows no such artificial constructs or boundaries. Happiness is not something you schedule for 5 pm on a Friday over a beer with friends. You can choose – or at least do things – to make yourself largely happy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Who says you can’t? What stories do you tell yourself daily, what excuses do you make on an ongoing basis that ‘poor old you’ can’t be happy – at least not until you get this, or that person does that, or such and such event occurs? Waiting for happiness is akin to counting the days until retirement…or death. You never know when your time is up, why not be happy now?
That is not to say bad things don’t happen to people, that humans don’t suffer or have to deal with tragedies. But one’s general perspective, attitude, is everything when it comes to whether you live much of your life with happiness and joy, or anger and misery….or worse yet blasé.
I’ve written previous articles on ways to increase your happiness. The message here is that you can break the societal shackles of confining happiness to certain time periods or events, and embrace the notion that you can seek – and find (or better yet, create) - happiness moment to moment, day to day, at any stage of life.
Song of the Week