Too happy?

At work the other day I had a rather high level of happiness and it was noted by one of my coworkers with both amusement and annoyance. I noted how I imagined some people might find my happiness overwhelming. My coworker responded, “You can be happy, but just don’t TOO happy all the time.” I paused for a moment, astounded. Too happy? Hmmph. “No, I’m going to be as happy as I want whenever I want. If people don’t like it that is just too bad. I don’t think being happy is something to be ashamed of.” My co-worker’s eyebrows arched with surprise, but she smiled and agreed.

I’ve been told I am “too much” of something in one way or another most of my life. Too happy, too friendly, too outgoing, too talkative, too outside of the status quo, too sensitive; I’ve been told I think too much and I say “sorry” too much (that is actually true). Hell, I’ve been told I’m too tall. At this point in my life – being an adult I guess – it irritates me when people feel licensed to say this to me. Because what these words can communicate is a level of intolerance, a lack of acceptance, and an implication that I should be ashamed of these attributes. But are they truly shame worthy? No, I would say most of them are not.

It is my natural inclination to reflect on what about me may make people feel comfortable passing these judgments. Perhaps it is my people-pleasing demeanor, or that I show audible concern for the influence my actions may negatively have on others. Something to work on perhaps, but I think the other person has some more important thinking to do.

What I believe people are feeling when they pass these evaluations on a person’s character – if I can project a bit here – is uncomfortable. Perhaps they are stressed or feeling negative, and interacting with a very happy person makes it difficult for them to navigate their feelings in that atmosphere. Perhaps they are tired, shy, or quiet… perhaps they are simply not interested in what is being communicated. Rather than launching into a critical assessment of a person’s behavior in an attempt to shut it down or convey one’s surprise (“You’re too happy…” or “You think too much…”), it would be better to communicate his or her feelings more self-referentially.¬† “I am sorry – I am not feeling too talkative right now. I’ve got my mind wrapped up in a project,” or, “It’s nice to see you’re so excited. I’m pretty tired myself. Keep up the good day.”

It is very possible people might find a behavior annoying or fake or superficial. But this perception certainly doesn’t give that person the right to criticize that behavior, particularly if the traits are generally held as positive by society at large. Truly, if I took the same sort of license with others that historically they have taken with me, I don’t imagine it would be appreciated. If I said, “You’re too quiet,” “You are always so negative,” “Boy you sure are grumpy every day,” I have a feeling people would view that as rather unkind and uncalled for. After all, what do I know of their personal circumstances? Who am I to judge? And why kick someone if they are down? Thing is, we shouldn’t kick someone while they are up, either.

Shy people can adjust to overtly friendly ones, just as chatty-Cathy’s can accept not everyone is going to volley back a verbose reply. Rather than casting judgment, whether silently or verbally, perhaps the best action is to pause and consider who you are interacting with as well as consider the type of person you are (with all your expectations, cultural behaviors, and opinions on proper etiquette). These are simple differences that can be accommodated and adjusted for, rather than noted in an offensive, dismissive regard.

The world needs quiet people and talkative ones, upbeat happy bubbly folks and low-key, laid-back people, too. We can’t all be either a “Tigger” or an “Eeyore”; we need both to give society a little balance. So, I’ll make you a little deal. When I’m super-happy in one of my bouncy-bouncy fun-fun “Tigger” moods, I’ll do my best to carefully circumnavigate the personal space of the “Eeyore” people out there. And maybe they can do best to stay out of my rambunctious path! ūüėČ

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work work work

In a training at work the other day the presenter said, “Effective communication and group dynamics are so important at work. After all, we spend more time with our coworkers than we do with our families.”

What?! More time at work than at home? Forever? That really bummed me out.

I mean, it isn’t depressing if, say, you work with your loved ones or really love the ones with whom you work. But is that fairly common? Not for most I’d say.

Thinking later on the quality of my work-life and that of others, it occurred to me just how many salaried employees work through their lunches and breaks. I see it daily at my job across all levels of position, both hourly and salaried. My sister regularly pulls 50 to 70 hour work weeks on her salary, and still she works through her lunches and never takes breaks. It is hard to believe she is weighted with so many tasks that she must work 1.5 times a standard work week and still bypass her break times.

When did being salaried mean doing the work of two or more people? That people are given such tremendous work loads they cannot manage to take breaks is unacceptable. Though their jobs promise breaks and offer lunches by law, those same jobs demand so much as to make taking them logistically impossible. Employees know every minute not spent working is another minute they are staying late and kept away from their lives. It is a common conception amongst many that once you start a salaried job – though you may be paid more than hourly waged jobs – you are worked up to twice as much.

Companies that allow these workloads – unknowingly or not – are very much to blame. What choice do the workers have? They could take the breaks, go home “on time,” and not finish their work by the assigned deadline. But this behavior will likely land them in unemployment lines. The employees could bend the rules, skip some steps, and do some short cuts, but often that too will cause them to be fired or for customers to suffer. Employees could work hourly some place else, but those designations often signal lower wages and less secure employment.

Companies promote wellness incentives (because it lowers their healthcare costs in the long run) and offer training in “time management” or other boosters to performance. But these seem superficial when the same employers are piling work on employees in unrealistic amounts (and when employees meet that expectation, the employer often expects even more the next time around).

How can a worker take their break and go out for that “wellness walk” if s/he doesn’t have the time to leave his/her desk? Taking a break is effectively taking time from their families and homes. How can a worker possibly have any quality of life if they are given the work load of two full-time employees? Companies may say this is a cost-effective measure, that they had to cut waste. But what about changing their bottom line? What about changing the nature of corporate culture? Why not change the structure of the company so its employees are doing the work of one person each, and having an actual quality of life. This sounds like an excellent solution compared to the theoretical ones shared over email or by external consultants hired to figure out just why the company’s work force is so miserable and unhappy.

Luckily there is are a slew of people and organizations interested in these types of issues. The Happiness Initiative is centered around the economics of happiness. What they and others (such as Edward Diener, Ph.D., the country of Bhutan, and a number of American cities and international countries) suggest is that countries base our economies not on the gross domestic product (which includes growth from negatives such as oil spills), but on the U.S. Genuine Progress Indicator or the Gross National Happiness index. These indexes focus on “psychological well-being, physical health, work/time balance, education and capacity building, cultural vitality and access to arts and culture, environmental quality and access to nature, apt governance and material well-being” (de Graaf, Sechrist source) as their measure for how successful an economy really is. In times like these, I cannot imagine a better way to judge progress and to judge our actions and governance.

I urge you to read the article from which I quoted “The Economics of Happiness: The New Economy” by John de Graaf and Linda Sechrist. I also highly recommend taking the survey on The Happiness Initiative website. How happy are you? Find out there, and fuel their research!

Tomorrow I will post my personal assessment based on tips to improve personal happiness. Perhaps you will see come things we have in common, or have your own modes of being happy that you would like to share!

Science of Happiness

59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman

59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman

I long while back, I stumbled upon the Richard Wiseman Blog, which contained a post about the Science of Happiness.¬† I recommend you take a look at Wiseman’s sites–they¬†are pretty great! It seems that a¬†lot of things he researches are ways to live life and have everything be a little nicer.

Check out¬†the comments below the post¬†announcing the experiment results also. They are very telling about people’s overall outlook on life’s experiences.

His book, 59 Seconds, is based on his research. Hope you enjoy reading!

A little surprise can brighten a day

Love notes on the fridge

Little notes filled with amorous words

My honey and I recently got hitched. It was a pretty great time, and we were blessed with a huge amount of family support. One of my favorite things was the advice that I was “showered” with for my bridal shower. All my aunts and grandmothers wrote me little tidbits of advice for a long happy marriage. My grandparents have been together for 55-60 years each. My aunts and uncles, 30 or so.

What was great about the advice was the surprise that my husband and I already do some of the things. A few times this year, I’ve been taken away on trips–one for business, one for family. We spend a lot of time together, as we have worked with one another (so to speak) for three years. When I left both times, I had the opportunity to slyly leave Jake little notes for him to find later.¬† A note in the coffee can, one on the TV, one on the computer, in the shower, on the fridge. Each one said something different–something sweet, cute, funny, and dirty (of course!). It was fun for him to find all the notes while I was gone–especially when one was evading him even upon my return!¬†

Love love love

Lots of ways to say it

Little things like that show a person you are thinking about them. Thoughtful notes now and again, out of the blue, can really strengthen a relationship and keep it fun and interesting. Who knows what a well-placed and cleverly timed note could do for a marriage? 

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2008-2009

Easy way to boost your day: form a smile and give it away!

I just returned from Los Angeles last week. First trip to California and it was great! We went to Rodeo Drive and Venice Beach among other places. Fully expecting to have the Pretty Woman experience on Rodeo Drive, I made sure to put my best face forward to test my possibly unfair assumption. To each person who greeted me, I turned to them with a truly genuine smile and asked them how they were that day. It was amazing how they warmed up to me. The young woman at the Coach store and I spoke for awhile about our respective origins (Tokyo and Iowa), two other women and I exchanged our delight in the beauty of a Jimmy Choo shoe. I wonder how many of those sales people are ignored every day even though they are expected to promote the fluffiest of natures to their clientele. I bet I may have cheered up at least one of their afternoons!

 

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2008-2009.

Happy Go Lucky? DON’T keep it to yourself!

Now, perhaps I’m a little biased, but I think that positive attitudes are worth spreading along, and negative ones are worth keeping to ourselves. That’s where this post is going….

In my last post, I wrote about how great my weekend was spent shopping and running around doing errands. Truthfully, that day when I shopped was so surprisingly great (since I dislike shopping so much), my enthusiasm was hard to contain. I found myself apologizing for my energetic happiness that afternoon, as if it would overwhelm those adjacent to my joyfulness.

Thinking on that today, I asked myself, “Why should anyone contain/restrain such a positive emotion?”¬† Should we have to worry that our happiness or our excitedness might offend someone? I’d say, absolutely not. If it offends someone else, there is something seriously wrong with that person, and possibly society. Positive emotions should be shared and demonstrated with abandon. It makes me think of the movie, “Happy Go Lucky”, about a woman who is so happy all the time, and subsequently¬†must learn to deal with situations where others can’t stand her demeanor, or interact with others who aren’t happy themselves. [Sometimes I feel like that. I’ve been told by people my whole life that I am too much (too happy, too enthusiastic, too positive, etc.), and really I’ve come to the point where I think, why would that ever be a bad thing?]

So here’s to those people who are happy and positive and nice. If you’ve got it in you, share it with abandon and don’t feel bad about it. And if you’ve got meanness, negativity, or crankiness in you–keep it to yourself and try to bask in the sunny face next to you. Give in and be happy. You’ll enjoy it, I promise!

 

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2008-2009.

Say Nice Things Day

In honor of my new Facebook page for Be Nice., I have created an event called “Say Nice Things Day.” I scheduled it for February 3rd, 2009. I don’t know if there is already an official day for this sort of idea (I’m sure there probably is), but I think this is the kind of thing we should do everyday anyways!

Have you ever thought something nice, but didn’t say it? Perhaps you don’t know the person, or maybe you figure they don’t care. You may have thought they knew it already, or you got in a tiff recently and you didn’t want them to think they won because you said something nice. I figure that I’ve got something to offer in my kind thoughts, and it is the other person’s job to take it or leave it. But either way, I’ve done my job of passing it on, paying it forward. Saying kind words when you think them can make a tremendous difference in a person’s day. They probably didn’t know that they (fill in the blank). Sometimes a kind word manages to come my way right around the time that I was doubting that very thing. And then my confidence is boosted once again.

So, say those nice things you think. Share with others your kind observations, your positive outlooks. And if you don’t have anything to say, share with them your genuine, sunny smile. Sometimes, that is all we need.

 

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2008-2009.