Be happy. In the English language, the idea of happiness is often conceptualized as a passive thing. We ask, “Are you happy?” which implies that one either is or is not happy. This suggests that happiness is a personal characteristic, a character trait that one possess or doesn’t. This can lend itself to resignation and the belief that one just isn’t happy. This is an unfortunate consequence of how the English language developed. In reality, happiness isn’t a passive characteristic. Instead, happiness is something active. You DO happy.
Positive psychology and the overlapping science of happiness study how to enhance happiness and reduce depression. Driven by the belief that happiness is a basic human right and attainable by all, they examine how happiness is attained. The wording of that is paramount. If happiness can be attained, then it is an active principle rather than a passive one. Happiness is something you do. You have the power to create it (also an action verb). Just as en-JOY is an action verb, so, to is do happy.
This is fantastic news because each and every one of us has control over what we do. We choose our actions and behaviors, and our choices can be empowering. We can’t control how the people in our lives will act. We can’t always control what will or will not happen in our lives. We can’t control whether or not we develop certain physical and mental illnesses. We can, however, choose our actions and reactions. We can choose behaviors that enhance our happiness.
Further, we can choose to do things that reduce depression and anxiety. Our actions can take us far, and that’s empowering because they’re our actions and our choices. True, it can be hard to choose certain behaviors and to do happy, especially when we’re faced with depression, anxiety, and more. But there are ways to get moving despite this.
Three Tips on How to Do Happy
- Determine what’s important to you. Brainstorm ideas, then pick one or two top values. Then, think in terms of living for those values every day. What little things can you do every single day that are in line with what’s dear to your heart?
- Identify your interests and passions. We get so caught up in the tasks of surviving daily life that we often forget about pursuing our passions. This is similar to values but more focused on activities. (A value might be spending quality time with family; a passion might be photography). Purposefully schedule time to pursue your passions. Even if it can’t be daily, make it regular (weekly, every other Saturday, etc.) .
- Throw judgments away to free your actions. Make choices that are right for you, and disregard what others think. Worried that you might be too young to join a knitting circle? Why? Do you like to knit? Do you want to learn from people? Then join the knitting circle. As long as what you want to do is safe for yourself and others, get rid of the evaluations and limits. While you’re doing happy, the naysayers will be watching you and wondering why they can’t be happy.
So get going, and DO happy. Work at it.