The other day one of my dearest friends Ellie, asked me how I managed to stay so happy. It’s true that generally I’m a perpetually perky person, but I do have my bouts with unhappiness when faced with setbacks and disappointments. I’ve worked hard to reduce the time I spend in a dreary mood when something unpleasant happens. Or if something I’d looked forward to doesn’t materialize. I like to think of myself as the Lemonade Queen, quickly making the quenching drink out of life’s lemons.
Recently, Rocket Man shared that this was one of the reasons he was drawn to me — I seemed to possess an endless good mood. It made me think about what attracts us to others. Rocket Man is also generally upbeat, rarely complaining about anything — including his divorce or ex — even after the dozen hours we’ve spent talking. It is compelling and refreshing and shows a positive outlook on life.
Contrast this to Mr. 400Miles who seems to be continually complaining about something: traffic, his job, his coworkers, his golf game, the weather, his son, his ex, his parents. After a kvetch session I asked him, “What do you like about your job?” He said, “There’s plenty I like about my job.” I responded, “I don’t hear about what you like very often.” While it’s important to recruit a vent buddy, it can get wearisome if someone mostly shares complaints.
I once attended a seminar that encouraged this: “Don’t complain unless it’s to someone who can do something about it.” This negates the common advice that you should vent to someone so you feel better. I say don’t inflict that negative energy on anyone else. If you need to release, sit in your car and let loose. Or write out your frustration. Or if you do choose to vent with a pal, make sure it is less than 10% of your conversation, and first ask him/her if it is OK to vent for 5 minutes.
It’s easy to get frustrated dating and want to vent. I’ve now gone out with 70 men in the last 2 years and none of them was “the one.” I could focus on what was wrong with all of them, but that wouldn’t help keep me in the hunt with a positive mind set. Sometimes you have to make your own happiness in the face of what others would think would be demoralizing.
In “I’m glad dating is hard” I mentioned my friend the late Art Berg. While in rehab after a partially paralyzing spinal chord injury (SCI), his doctor kept sending psychiatrists to see him. Art thought it was odd that he was sequestered from other SCI patients. Later, in examining his medical records, he found the reason noted by his doctor: “Excessive happiness.” The doctor felt he laughed too much and was in too good of a mood much of the time. While the doctor thought this was a detriment to his recovery as he interpreted this as denial, Art said it was key to his recovery and subsequent success in life.
Here’s Art’s recipe for excessive happiness:
- Happiness is a choice — a choice we make every day.
- Happiness is not a condition of our circumstances or external influences. It is a state of mind and heart.
- Happiness comes most often when we focus on solving other people’s pain and problems as opposed to thinking only of our own.
- Happiness isn’t what we have or who we are. It’s feeling valuable and worthy regardless of our station in life.
- Happiness is within everyone’s reach.
Are you a happy dater? Perhaps an excessively happy one? If so, how do you keep yourself up amid rejection and disappointment?