On Saturday, while standing in line at 7-11 to buy a bottle of water, I noticed a man and two boys around the age of 13. They were standing near the rotating wheel of hotdogs and were literally scarfing their own hotdogs without even bothering to chew each bite. I felt the urge and so when it was my turn to pay, I quietly asked the girl at the register to ring up the trio’s six hotdogs. I paid and went on my way.
Those three likely never saw me. They had no idea who I was. I imagine that the man got to the counter to pay and was probably confused when the clerk told him their food had been paid for. But then I imagine he smiled. I hope that smile was a little bit of genuine happiness and most of all, I hope he was able to share that happiness with someone else later in his day–maybe by speaking a little bit kinder when he got home from a 14 hour work day, maybe by holding the door open for the man behind him in line, or maybe he just smiled–smiles are contagious, you know.
What was the point of it all? When I got back in my car and drove away, I had a new sense of happiness. Somehow, the day seemed lighter and less serious and when I got home, I recognized joy in the wagging tails of my dogs, beauty in the birds at the feeder out back and gratefulness for my amazing career–even when I opened the computer to 100 emails after just checking a bit before.
A survey conducted by the charity Action for Happiness, in collaboration with Do Something Different, found a strong link between self-acceptance and happiness, despite the fact that it’s a habit not frequently practiced. For the survey, the group identified ten everyday habits which science has shown can make people happier–even though many of us take very little time to be sure and do these things.
Here are the 10 habits (notice that the first letters of the ten spell out GREAT DREAM):
- Giving: do things for others
- Relating: connect with people
- Exercising: take care of your body
- Appreciating: notice the world around
- Trying out: keep learning new things
- Direction: have goals to look forward to
- Resilience: find ways to bounce back
- Emotion: take a positive approach
- Acceptance: be comfortable with who you are
- Meaning: be part of something bigger
Happiness is a combination of dreaming and doing. We have to live with purpose and drive as well as acceptance and the ability to live in the moment. Take a moment to copy this list of happiness–carry it with you, and see if you can make a difference in your own happiness.