Musings: An experiment with being happy.

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“I’m happy”.  One day someone casually asked how I was doing and that was my response.  I’m not sure why I didn’t just respond with the usual “I’m doing great, how are you?”.  I’m willing to bet the person who was asking didn’t honestly care how I was doing.  It’s funny looking back at that moment that I don’t even remember who asked me or where I was at.  Probably the check out counter at the grocery store or on a phone call with customer service.  I get asked that probably 10 times on a daily basis.  As do you.  That’s a standard greeting anyway, isn’t it?  I ask people all the time only half listening to their response because I already know what they are going to say: “I’m good, how are you?”  Occasionally I’ll get a response like “Oh I’m alright” or “I’m doing fine, thank you” and if someone feels like being real honest they will say “Not great” to which things get slightly awkward because I don’t know how much to dive into what has caused them to veer so far off of the socially normal and acceptable response of “I’m doing great”.

So why did I blurt out something so crazy like “I’m happy”?  Well, because…wait for it…I. Was. Happy.  That’s it.  I must’ve been having a particularly good day, enough so that when asked how I was doing I recognized this unusual happiness and stated it.  So while I don’t remember where I was or who asked me, what I do remember was the woman’s response.  “Oh!  Well I’m glad to hear that.  Good for you!”  She was being sincere too.  I completely caught her off guard.  I thought about this exchange later in the day.  It was something so simple, yet so different than my mindless responses and I liked the reaction I got.  The positive response I received made me feel happy.  I got more happiness from expressing my happiness and made someone else feel happy at the same time.  What a smorgasbord of happiness.  I decided to experiment.

For the last two months when someone asks how I’m doing, my response has been “I’m happy”.  I like the variety of responses I get back.  I have found that I typically get four types of responses:

1) Some people give a cheerful response as the first lady did.

2) Some feel so awkward that I didn’t stick to the script that they almost mutter something that hardly resembles English in their baffled scramble to recollect themselves.  I like these ones just as much as the cheerful responses simply for the entertainment factor.

3) Some people ask why.  These are fun too.  It gives me the opportunity to be reflective and self aware when I have to justify my happiness.

4) Some people act offended.  Yes, offended.  Well, I mean who the hell do I think I am to be so happy?  I actually had someone say that to me in a sarcastic tone.  They were obviously not as happy as me that day.  Poor them.

Most of you that know me well know that I am not always happy.  Okay, if you know me REALLY well (ahem Tommy and kids) then I may or may not be described as ornery and negative.  Annnndddd if we are in the cyber circle of truth then I shall disclose that I have this prevailing fear that when I die I will be remembered as a crusty bitch.  Yes. I often find myself wading around in my own cesspool of negative, ornery, crusty bitchedness.  Bitchy Resting Face is an actual thing.  I’ve been tagged in that video by more than one friend.  The struggle is real.  That means that over the last two months when I have responded with an “I’m happy!” I am lying at least 37% of the time.  I’m okay with that.  Want to know why?  Because the more I tell people that I am happy, the more I have to think about why I should be happy or what I have to be happy about.  That 37% lying rate is starting to decrease the longer this experiment in being happy goes on.

I started to wonder if my happy response would become as thoughtless as an “I’m good” as it becomes my new norm.  I don’t believe it ever will.  People will continue to be thrown for a loop and actually hear the answer I’m giving to their thoughtless question.  It forces them to give me a thoughtful response.  It brings a teeny bit of connection with other people.

Hearing two words verbalized by my own voice in my own ears several times a day has had a pretty powerful effect on my overall emotional health.  What a delightful and accidental experiment in being happy.  Maybe my children won’t have to write “Beloved Mother, Wife, Friend, Crusty Bitch” on my headstone after all.  Sweet relief.  The power of two words.  I’m happy.

happy

How are you?

Kenz