This is the last installment of the 5 Steps to Happiness, which I’ve since decided isn’t best conveyed as a five-step process, hence the delay in posting.
The other steps, as well as other happiness-related posts, can be found in the sidebar under Happiness or something similar. I try to keep things simple for my own sake.
I’ll be expanding on the idea of steps versus no steps in the search for the elusive happy place and other associated thoughts in subsequent posts. For now, here is the promised last step of the (now defunct) 5 step process: Sharing (shoving) joy at other people.
Sharing On Purpose
Spreading joy on purpose isn’t a requirement for your own inner happiness, so no need to panic if you don’t like interacting. Or sharing. Or people.
If you are open to intentionally sharing happiness, however, shoving at least makes it sound less barfy (oddly, not a word) and rather like intrusive fun.
Sharing is not (necessarily) caring. It’s selfishness. Helping others, if that occurs, is merely a side effect. It’s in our best interest to share our inner happiness since it can create a happiness feedback loop. The calmer people are around you, the easier it is to maintain our own inner peace.
(Details will be in the book on how to share happiness with others for those of us who are introverted or who simply don’t give a crap. Seriously. I wrote down how to share happiness for anyone, like me, who finds intentionally interacting with others nerve-racking.)
The Unintentional Nudge
Fortunately (unfortunately?), others will feel your happiness whether you’re deliberately shoving it toward them or not, and it’s best to be aware of this fact in advance so that you’re not taken by surprise.
From time to time, your inner happiness may rub off on others without you even trying. It depends on how well your inner happiness is being maintained and how receptive others are to it. I have watched strangers become less agitated and, in essence, calm the hell down, purely by being in close proximity without so much as an exchanged glance.
Because I’m so damn perky.
No, it’s because they can sense the internal peacefulness and they subconsciously seek out what they’re lacking. It sounds like kumbaya mumbo-jumbo, but it’s true.
You’re A Buzz Kill
Then there are those who are not swayed and will respond unfavorably to your inner happiness. An inner sense of calm is unsettling to them and they may become confused or agitated.
It’s enjoyable to watch them try to get a rise out of you and, believe me, there will be those that try. Maybe not consciously, but…wait for it…misery does love company.
You may find others are uncomfortable in your presence because you don’t join with them in a heightened surface-level emotional state. When people experience a surface-level emotion, “bad” or “good”, they tend to want others to feel the same.
In essence, being happy can be a buzz kill.
One of my early experiences with this interesting aspect of inner happiness was with a rather uptight woman who stood behind me in line at a department store. She complained in my ear, sighed, stamped, and generally tried to (unconsciously, I hope) cajole me into joining in her tantrum. I was content in my state of inner happiness and didn’t engage with her. I politely smiled, managed an eyebrow shrug every so often, and generally disregarded her flailing about. The calmer I remained, the more annoyed she became.
We reached the front of the line (I never doubted that inevitability) and I thought it would be a nice gesture to let her go ahead of me. Because, apparently, I’m evil like that.
I wasn’t prepared for her reaction. She screamed and used phrases like “smug” and “just standing there.” My peacefulness in response to her craziness had obviously sent her over the edge. I remained placid as she continued to lose it. I smiled, “So, you don’t want to go ahead of me?” She gave me a final nasty look and flung herself toward the register. There should’ve been a slow clap involved, but this was before .gifs.
Being a buzz kill isn’t a bad thing. At least not for happy people. You can still feel the highs and lows of emotional states if you want to rather than out of habit or as a reactionary reflex. Other people may be disappointed when we don’t jump on their emotional bandwagons, but that’s when the unintended hilarity may ensue.
Shove, Share… or Don’t
This is one of the simplest concepts in these series of posts (you may thank me with brownies.) I primarily wanted to alert you that sharing inner happiness with others will occur, whether you like it or not, and people will react according to their own level of understanding.
The bottom line is that by being happy you could potentially increase the happiness and/or calmness of others around you and that will help you maintain yours. Or, it may seriously confuse other people and perhaps even upset them. It works out in your favor either way.
“May you find the inner happiness you desire so that you can shove it at other people.” (Feel free to use that.)
The forthcoming book Why You Can’t Slap Happy People and How to Become One is a humorous look at the search for happiness from a negativist’s perspective.
P.S. To keep up to date on the release of Why You Can’t Slap Happy People and How to Become One* book release and other fun announcements be sure to subscribe to the Wisdom and Nonsense Newsletter.
*January 2017 update: The title of the book changed, because reasons, to Negatively Ever After: A Skeptic’s Guide to Finding Happiness