practical happiness principles, happiness is personal, Pamela Gail Johnson,, Practical Happiness: Happiness Is Personal

Happiness Is Personal

A friend of mine was going through one of those abundantly stressful times. She had lots of big life changes happening all at once—job, marriage, and parental caretaking.

When big things change, it can feel like your entire life is changing. My friend was a ball of stress, and there wasn’t much she could do other than manage it while the stress-makers resolved themselves.

Naturally, I wanted to help, so I suggested several times that she try using a lavender essential oil. I even quoted studies showing it helped reduce stress. I offered her some of mine, but she’d never try it. She’s the type of person who never wants to hurt anyone’s feelings, but finally she told me, “The smell of lavender makes me want to throw up.”

I chuckled when she said that. Obviously, anything that makes you want to throw up won’t reduce your stress.

Even if something makes the majority of people in the world happy, it won’t matter to you if it doesn’t make you happy. This is the second Practical Happiness Principle: Happiness is Personal.

There are millions of examples of how happiness is different for different people – but here are a few to think about:

  • Cooking makes some people smile; others have a first name relationship with their take-out delivery drivers
  • Running marathons makes some people grin; others frown walking around the block
  • Kissing pets is a smile starter for some; others want to take a shower if a pet kisses them
  • Singing out loud makes some people’s hearts happy; others cherish sound of silence
  • Roller coasters create happy screams for some; others turn a shade lighter thinking about roller coasters
  • Parties energize some; others would rather read a book
  • Reading books delights some; others don’t own a book

Happiness is personal because everyone has different tastes. This is wonderful because it fills our world with so many smile-making experiences.    

However, most of us want to believe that if something makes us happy, it will make everyone we love happy, too. This is natural. You want your smile-starting experiences to create smiles for others. And, to be fair, you should be open to trying new things.

I went snow tubing during a stop on my #HappinessUnites Tour.  I wasn’t really sure what snow tubing entailed, other than sitting on a big tube and letting someone push me down a snowy hill. When we arrived at the snow tubing place, I watched people slide down the hill. All of a sudden, this hill, and the idea of tubing down it, seemed daunting. My initial instinct was to go back to the car.

However, my friend Kari and I were visiting her brother and his family. They’d been wonderful hosts and wanted me to experience one of their winter activities. I felt like I should try it at least once. Right? Otherwise, I’d have been a rude guest. There’s nothing happy about that.

Being pulled up the hill wasn’t as bad as I initially imagined. Actually, it was nice to watch the blue sky and tall trees pass as I ascended lying on my back in the tube. Once we reached the top of this seemingly huge hill, I wanted to get back to the bottom as quickly as possible. As it turned out, the quickest way down was tubing.

I took a deep breath, plopped down on my tube, and closed my eyes as they pushed me down the hill. It was kind of like being on a roller coaster—except the track was slippery, bouncy, and made of snow and ice.

To my surprise, I had fun bouncing down what initially appeared to be a scary hill, even though my heart was racing until I reached the bottom. It also made me smile so much that I wanted to do it again.

This time, Kari, her brother, and I connected our tubes by holding each other’s tube handles. This trip was even more fun because we went down the hill faster. It was so fun that we tubed down several more times.  

If I’d let my fear stop me from trying tubing, I’d never know that I liked it. While happiness is personal, we have to be willing to try new things and experience new happiness. 

However, if we’ve tried something, then we usually know if it’s one of our happiness makers or not.

Our friends won’t always enjoy the things we enjoy and vice versa. We may feel rejected if someone doesn’t want to partake in something that makes us happy, but it’s not personal. They aren’t rejecting us: they’re rejecting an experience—just like when we don’t want to do something.      

Since happiness is personal, we have to know what makes us happy in order to do more of what makes us happy. So, the next time someone asks you to try something new (like, say, slide down a snowy hill on a tube), give it a shot. It might put a smile on your face because although happiness is personal, it changes as we change

The Four Practical Happiness Principles

  1. Happiness Zappers Are Manageable
  2. Happiness is Personal
  3. Happiness Changes as We Change
  4. Happiness is Bigger Than You Think


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