Not to sound like someone pitching a self-help seminar, but I’ve been giving this a lot of thought and also been doing some experimentation and I believe I’ve found the secret to being happy – and it’s incredibly simple and entirely within your own control.
I made this initial discovery at, of all places, 7-11. You see, I’ve been working in D.C. on a project and living out of a hotel room for months. But my room has no refrigerator in it, so I stop at 7-11 every single morning on the way to the office to pick up a Sobe Green Tea (I highly recommend it if you haven’t tried it!).
Anyway, although I always see the same people working there I’ve noticed that I get a different reaction from them every time I come in the store – and this actually translated into how I felt.
Well, I began to think about what the difference could have been, and decided it must have been me! Some mornings I am deep in thought and in my own little world and people tend to leave me alone. Other mornings I’m concentrating on everyone else and people are much more cordial.
So I formed the following hypothesis:
Be the person that brings other people happiness, and you will be happy yourself.
I’ve been consciously testing that theory for two days, and here are a few results.
- At work as several people walked by my office I made eye contact but then looked away and didn’t say anything. Then as someone who I don’t normally spend much time talking to was walking by I smiled and sincerely asked them “How are you doing today?” They perked right up, became cheery and started telling me a story. When they left I noticed that I actually felt better… and I’m pretty sure they did too.
- At my hotel I approached one of the people who works there that is normally all business and again I cheerfully and sincerely asked, “How are you doing today?” They smiled and struck up a little conversation. Again this made me happy.
- I then decided to broaden my experiment and include someone else to make sure this wasn’t an isolated thing that only happens to me. I got one of the guys from work to go with me to Target. I told him about my theory and instructed him to make a purchase at one of the lanes immediately after me – but I told him to really pour on the charm. We then went to check out and I acted totally indifferent, the cashier mirrored my attitude, and I felt neutral. I then waited while my buddy turned into a comedian with the cashier and everyone started laughing. Both he and I immediately felt “happier” and the cashier obviously did too.
So, that’s it. Were you expecting it to be something difficult?
Please, give this a try today. I don’t mean this in a hallmark card, feel good, BS way. I mean be yourself, but find a way to try to cheer up at least 3 people that you don’t normally try with. Then let me know what happens (even those of you that don’t normally leave comments).
In fact, if you are reading this at the office go find someone and try it out right now. I’ll wait…