Scenario: K and I are snuggling in bed this morning. He brushes against my leg and immediately pulls back.
K: Mama, your leg is like a cactus.
Me: (laughing)! I know Baby, I gotta shave my legs today!
K: Um, that’s not ok. It feels spikey!
Me: I know! Geesh!
K: Mommy, a princess needs to not have spikey legs. (pauses)… Mommy, you gotta deal with that, like now!
*Touche son! Touche!
What is the difference between happy people and unhappy people? Of course, it may be very obvious, happy people are happy while unhappy people are unhappy, right? Well, that is correct, but we want to know what are the things that these people do differently and that is why, I have put together a list of things that HAPPY people do differently than UNHAPPY people.
1. LOVE vs. FEAR. Well, I can tell you for sure that those people who are really happy, FEAR less and LOVE a lot more. They see each moment, each challenge, each person as an opportunity to discover more about themselves and the world around them.
2. ACCEPTANCE vs. RESISTANCE. Happy people understand that you can’t really change a situation by resisting it, but you can definitely change it by accepting that it is there and by understanding that there might be a reason for its existence. When something unpleasant happens to them, they don’t try to fight it, knowing that this will make the situation even worse, but rather, they ask themselves questions like: What can I learn from this? How can I make this better? and they go from there, focusing on the positive rather than on the negative. They always seem to see the glass half full no matter what happens to them.
3. FORGIVENESS vs. UNFORGIVENESS. Really happy people know that it’s not healthy to hold on to anger. They choose to FORGIVE and FORGET, understanding that FORGIVENESS is a gift they give to themselves first and foremost.
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”Buddha
4. TRUST vs. DOUBT. They trust themselves and they trust the people around them. No matter if they talk to the cleaning lady or the C.E.O. of a multi billion company, somehow they always seem make the person they are interacting with feel like there is something unique and special about them.
They understand that beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies, and because of that, they make sure to treat everybody with love, dignity and respect, making no distinctions between age, sex, social status, color, religion or race. These are the great men that Mark Twain was talking about: “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” Mark Twain
5. MEANING vs. AMBITION. They do the things they do because of the meaning it brings into their lives and because they get a sense of purpose by doing so. They understand that “Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life” like Wayne Dyer puts it, and they care more about living a life full of meaning rather than, what in our modern society we would call, living a successful life.
The irony here is that most of the time they get both, success and meaning, just because they choose to focus on doing the things they love the most and they always pursue their heart desires. They are not motivated by money; they want to make a difference in the lives of those around them and in the world.
6. PRAISING vs. CRITICIZING. Happy people would probably agree with Carl’s Jung theory on resistance: “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size”. They don’t criticize the absence of the behavior they want to reinforce, but rather, every time the behavior is present, even if it’s not that often, they know that by praising the person and the behavior, they will actually reinforce the positive behavior.
When a parent wants to make sure that his 7 years old boy will learn to always put the toys back in the box after he’s done playing with them, he will make sure not to focus on the many times the child won’t do it, criticizing him and his behavior, but rather, every time the little boy does put the toys back, the parent will praise him and his behavior and that is exactly how he will reinforce the positive behavior, and in the end geting the wanted results.
7. CHALLENGES vs. PROBLEMS. Happy people will see PROBLEMS as CHALLENGES, as opportunities to explore new ways of doing things, expressing their gratitude for them, understanding that underneath them all lies many opportunities that will allow them to expand and to grow.
8. SELFLESSNESS vs. SELFISHNESS.They do what they do not for themselves, but for the good of others, making sure that they bring meaning, empowerment and happiness in the lives of many. They look for ways to give and to share the best of themselves with the world and to make other people happy.
”Before giving, the mind of the giver is happy; while giving, the mind of the giver is made peaceful; and having given, the mind of the giver is uplifted.”Buddha
9. ABUNDANCE vs. LACK/POVERTY. They have an abundant mindset living a balanced life, achieving abundance in all areas of life.
10. DREAMING BIG vs. BEING REALISTIC. These people don’t really care about being realistic. They love and dare to dream big, they always listen to their heart and intuition and the greatness of their accomplishments scares many of us.
“Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.” Goethe
11. KINDNESS vs. CRUELTY. They are kind to themselves and others and they understand the power of self love, self forgiveness and self acceptance.
12. GRATITUDE vs. INGRATITUDE. No no matter where they look, no matter where they are or with who, they have this capacity of seeing beauty where most of us would only see ugliness, opportunities, where most of us would only see struggles, abundance where most of us would only see lack and they express their gratitude for them all.
13. PRESENCE/ ENGAGEMENT vs. DISENGAGEMENT. They know how to live in the present moment, appreciating what they have and where they are, while still having big dreams about the future.
“When you are present, you can allow the mind to be as it is without getting entangled in it. The mind in itself is a wonderful tool. Dysfunction sets in when you seek your self in it and mistake it for who you are.” Eckhart Tolle
14. POSITIVITY vs. NEGATIVITY. No matter what happens to them, they always seem to keep a positive perspectiveon everything and by doing so, they tend irritate a lot of negative and “realistic” people.
15. TAKING RESPONSIBILITY vs. BLAMING. They take full ownership over their lives and they rarely use excuses. Happy people understand that the moment you choose to blame some outside forces for whatever it is that happens to you, you are in fact giving all your power away, and they choose to keep the power for themselves and taking responsibility for everything that happens to them.
K has been watching PBS and one of the shows is called “Super Why”. On a recent episode, there was a situation where the kids had to help their friend dress up for Cinderella’s ball. She gets the gown and the dress (by her friends helping her spell the words) but when midnight strikes, all of the glitz and glamour disappears and she runs away. She is ashamed that she doesn’t’ have all the nice things that the other people have. Ironically enough, the prince chases after her and begs her to come back because she’s the best dancer there and they are having fun. Through a series of events, she decides that even though she doesn’t have all the fancy stuff, she is going to stay and just be herself.
What’s so ironic is that I have been spending a significant amount of time with K working on taking about things like, “being different is a good thing. We like people who have different hair. Mommy has tattoos and Nana doesn’t but that’s ok. We both love you the same, right?” And taking it a step further with, “You are brown and Donovan is not brown, and that’s ok, right? It’s ok for him to be him and it’s ok for you to be you. You are different but you are also the same in so many ways. Different isn’t bad, it’s just…different.”
But going along with this, is encouraging him, even at this age, to simply be himself. I know that it isn’t as easy as it sounds… Hell, I still struggle to truly be my authentic self and I am almost 40. But oh, what a gift I could give him if he knew, even at 4 years old, that being who he is, is enough. Being K is ok and good enough. Being different isn’t a bad thing. Being you is amazing. Being goofy is ok. Being smart is ok. Being brown is more than ok. Having a not brown Mama is ok too. Having brown eyes is ok…and so is having hazel eyes. Being tall is ok and so is being short. Being thicker is ok and so is being not so thick! We love everyone—no matter what.
At the end of the day, we are all different. But there are things that connect us. Focusing on the things that certainly do connect us is great, but I most certainly don’t want to be afraid or concerned about saying, different from us is ok.