“I read it in a book.” How often over my life have I said that? I’ve used it in debates, I‘ve used it in arguments and I’ve used it in just every day. I read it in a book. Yes, I’m telling you to read more. That’s today’s simple advice. On the internet. In a book or a magazine. Reading is calming, reading is slowed down, it is informative and so often it is inspirational. And that’s what I’m talking about today. The inspirational “I read it in a book” that I am referring to today is a simple phrase that has had profound repercussions in my life. It has changed me. It is this: To be happy, act happy. Told you it was simple. Easy to slide over it, easy to abandon it to the world of fridge magnet sayings, easy to not pay attention to the profound wisdom. Apparently this is a Buddhist teaching…. This one really got me thinking…. I, like so many of us, live in a world of “if only” and “as soon as”. My main one being – as soon as I lose weight… everything will be perfect. If only we had more money, I’d be less stressed. But now, this simple saying “To be happy, act happy,” is suggesting I could be happy right now. Right now. I always thought I had to have all my ducks in a row, I always thought I had to accomplish so much. I always thought happiness was something for my future self. What I’ve always thought is that happiness is unattainable.
So I paused from the book I was reading. The book that said all I have to do was act happy. And I asked myself the question – how would I behave if I were happy. How would I ACT HAPPY. I immediately thought of a few habits I could tweak. I would eat better, I would exercise more, I would meditate twice a day, I would journal in the morning. I realized I was a broken record. These had been my goal since my teens. And then, and here’s the surprising bit, I thought of all the things I already do that make me happy. I already eat well, I take exercise every day, I usually meditate, my journal is full. And then it hit me. Maybe I am already happy. How can this be? Is it really possible that I am already living the life I want? Oh my goodness, yes.
Time passed as I let this sink in. What if I am already happy? And then I looked at a magazine and then I watched TV and then I was fed modern day garbage about how I would not be complete until I owned that car, until I was as slim and blonde as the girl in the yogurt commercial. Stop it world; stop telling me that I should be living in a world of “if only” and “as soon as”. No, I live in a world of now, a world where I act happy.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting you fake anything. I am not suggesting you pretend to be happy. What I am suggesting is that you already have many habits that are actually your happy habits. If staying in bed makes you happy – that’s why you do it. If eating at McDonalds makes you happy that’s why you do it. I would only suggest, try staying away from things that the happiness is followed by guilt or regret. Again that’s the modern world. You get instant gratification and this is followed by the price you pay. And then you come back for more. A vicious cycle of joy and guilt. Stop it. Just act happy, without the residue.
So today’s simple advise is read more (that’s simple) and recognize all the wonderful things in your life that already make you happy. Happy now. And yes, I wrote the saying on a piece of paper “To Be Happy, Act Happy” and I used a magnet and I put it on the fridge. Another constant reminder of how simple it really is.
Do it now. To be happy, act happy.