“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be;” and every day, on purpose, I choose to be as happy as I can stand.
This Abraham Lincoln quote makes perfect sense, but who knew someone would declare a month to celebrate what makes us happy?
In 2015, the United Methodist Women did a study on happiness and God’s role in it, and asked me to write the front half of the book.
As a happy person, I literally danced on the ceiling, until I realized that defining happiness and living happily were two different animals.
(After writing my half, I swore to never write a half a book again, but that’s a story for another day.)
After examining happiness closely and trying to define the difference between joy and happiness — one’s internal, the other depends on factors we don’t always control — I discovered being happy was more complex than I thought.
Nevertheless, August is Happiness Happens Month, and when happiness does happen, it’s a beautiful and amazing thing.
According to the www.dpair.com website, happiness is “unlimited and contagious, and sharing your happiness can bring joy to other people’s lives.”
Again, it makes perfect sense — it’s hard to be mean and nasty to someone who’s undaunted by being caught in a downpour with a flat tire or missing the last piece of warm pecan pie.
Pamela Gail Johnson founded the Secret Society of Happy People in 1999, with the first day of “Admit You’re Happy Day” on Aug. 8, 1999.
The Society soon discovered that more than a day would be needed to adequately celebrate happiness; thus, we get an entire month.
What makes you happy? Most of us don’t dissect it, we either are or aren’t.
Sometimes happiness happens to us — a phone call from a friend, a mushy note or check arrives, and sometimes we cause it to happen by doing any of the above-mentioned things.
One day while shopping (one of the things that makes me happy), I found a plaque that said, “Do more of what makes you happy,” and I bought several and strategically placed them so I’d remember to do this every day.
With COVID-19 raging, there is anxiety around sending our children back to school, wearing masks, socially distancing, eating in restaurants, working from home, becoming ill, unemployment, evictions, upcoming elections — almost everything, and yet, National Happiness Happens Month reminds us to celebrate.
Consider my three favorites:
• Pump up the volume. Music is a perfect day brightener, and new or old favorites will do the trick.
After the death of Congressman John Lewis, a video circulated of him dancing to the Pharrell Williams tune “Happy” at a campaign rally. He was a great dancer and I loved seeing his human side.
I grew up watching Alvin, Simon and Theodore, the Chipmunks, and while the singing’s not great, they always make me smile.
One of my favorite radio stations asks listeners to sing the songs the way they do when they’re in the car alone. All I can say is thank goodness they’re alone.
• Lend a helping hand. Even with social distancing and staying apart, we can pick up groceries and medicines for the elderly and homebound while we’re out.
We can make weekly phone calls and/or help with fundraisers for families facing hardships. Think about what you’d need and be creative.
• Finally, offer a smile, or a positive word of encouragement. Smiles beget smiles and add face value. Be blessed and make happiness happen this week.
CYNTHIA A. BOND HOPSON, Ph.D., of Cordova is a native Tennessean, educator, author and mentor. She and her husband, Roger, lived in Paris twice. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook@drbondhopson.