A few day ago, at the hairdressers, two ladies I’d never met commented on my long hair saying "Oh, to be young again and have such long hair". I laughed and said “Thank you but I’m not that young”, which prompted them to scoff and then want to guess my age. I am always up for that game. It can be amusing but to my surprise, they placed me nearly 15 years younger than what I really am. What? I laughed saying “Nooo, I wish!” When they learnt my age, the looks on their faces was priceless. Very quickly they shot questions at me “How?” “What nationality are you?” “Have you got kids?” “What’s your secret?” Still laughing, I shrugged “I don’t know, Italian, I have 3 and no idea”
One of my hairdressers, someone I have known for years but don’t see very often overheard what was going on and stepped in. He said all excited with one hand in the air, “I’ll tell you exactly what her secret is – she is always happy! Seriously! I don’t know her very well (and he looked at me for confirmation, I nodded) but I know her well enough to know she has been through some pretty tough times. The thing is, you would never know because every time you see her she is smiling. Always smiling. That’s her secret. She’s happy”
He spoke and I listened but the sad truth was, the two ladies didn’t seem to care too much for his answer. They weren’t buying it at all but I was completely intrigued by his perspective of me. I've heard people describe me as happy before and it's a nice thing for people to pick up on. It made me smile.
When I walked away, I kept thinking of his response. It's a cliché, isn’t it? The secret is to be happy. We hear it all the time. The difference is, and why I smiled, is that I know hands down, secretly inside, it is definitely a very conscious choice to live my life as happy as I can. It’s just that you can’t really openly share that you are ‘choosing happiness’ because like the two ladies in the salon, most people will roll their eyes at you. You just have to live it.
I wonder why? Is it too simplistic an answer? Do we believe it doesn’t work? Or does it feel like too much work to do it? Do we love drama that much? Do we expect people not to believe us? It’s all so strange to me.
And to be honest, he was right, I have gone through some tough times. Who hasn’t? Things that could really break a person, especially in the last two years, but what I have realised is that even though I couldn't stop the bad times happening, I had full control over how I chose to get through them. I want to be happy. I do. I want a happy life. No matter what. That feels natural to me. Smiling is fun. Laughing is fun. Being playful is fun. But I had to be willing to create an environment that allowed it. Abraham Hicks says, “the better you feel, the better life gets” and I've learnt that it’s true.
So, in the last couple of years, I have quietly become almost obsessed about removing my exposure to anything that is sad or negative when life throws me a hard time. I become conscious of everything from what I watch on television, to what music I listen to and even which people I hang out with. If it isn’t a comedy, something I can dance to or someone who can make me laugh, in that moment I’m not interested. I’m in survival mode.
When I am going through tough or hurtful times, my priority becomes distracting myself from the parts of it I cannot control, and unlike some people would have you believe, choosing to feel happy through hard times does not mean you are in denial or that it is not happening or that it is not important. That’s all still true. You are just refusing to let those times own you. You are instead choosing to thrive.
Sadness breeds sadness and once you get on that train, the momentum of it can be hard to stop. The same though, goes for feeling happy. Happy breeds happy. And thank goodness, that momentum can be hard to slow down too. That’s the train I try to be on and be on as much as possible. And it does not minimise your situation or change what is happening if you chose to move through it as happy as possible. Ignore those people who try to make you believe that. I have had to learn to. And trust me, sometimes it is hard because they don't like it. Sometimes it doesn't serve their pain to see you happy. In the process, I have been told that I lacked empathy, was heartless, selfish, self righteous, cold, smug, you name it. It always hurt but I could not allow myself to stay in an unhappy place for them. It doesn't mean that I didn't have moments of uncontrollable pain or didn't shed an ocean of tears, it means that my life could simply get back on track quicker.
So I smile and I laugh and I am playful, way more than I am ever sad. Choosing happy has become a personal life strategy and I love that it gets noticed without needing to announce it. Even I would probably roll my eyes. I am happy to just live it. "The better you feel, the better life gets" is so true and life is meant to be fun. I want to never forget that. This is where most of the expansion and creation and magic seems to happen so it is where I want to choose to spend the majority of my life.
And if in the process, it is somehow also helping me defy age a little, haha, it’s a win-win!
Originially published at www.thriveglobal.com