I am an actively happy person. What I mean is, I am not just happy because I happen to be in a good mood. I live my life so that I may feel a true, positive inner energy within myself. You could say I work toward a positive mental attitude (as my co-workers call it, PMA).
If I’m unhappy with myself, another person, or a situation, I take a lot of time in reflecting why I’m not happy and how I can change it. I surround myself with good, loving people, and make decisions that make me feel good about myself.
Throughout my 24 years, I have developed four rules that I live by to maintain my PMA.
The Rules of PMA
- Be thankful
- Be proud
- Be nice
- Be active
Whether I am having a bad day at work or going through a very difficult time, these four rules have helped me to stay true to myself.
Let’s start with Rule 1: Be Thankful
When it is wintertime, there is a blizzard outside, my car is covered in snow, I’m late for work, and there are icicles forming at my nose, I do not say, “Oh man! It’s wintertime! There’s a blizzard outside! My car is covered in snow! I’m late for work! And good grief, there are icicles forming at my nose! I hate this!!!” Instead I think, “Thank God I have a warm car to go into and drive to work. I could not imagine being homeless right now.” Then I say a little prayer for those who are not as blessed as I am. I am thankful to be able to better my situation.
Regardless of the situation, it can almost always be worse. So have your moment, ask if yourself if this is a big deal or not a big deal, put a positive spin on it, and be thankful for something about that situation.
A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.
Rule 2: Be Proud
This is a rule I use at work a lot. At my job, my company heavily relies on me to schedule candidates for interviews, maintain their status during the interview process, prepare the ones who are hired for training, and track those who have started with company. I’m supposed to schedule anywhere from 50-100 interviews per week, and this can be stressful. On days where I talk to 20 people and half of them are either not interested or not eligible, I get pissed. But then, I take a moment to walk away from my desk and remove myself from the situation. I think of something either that day or week that I am proud of. “Man, I scheduled made contact with 23 people yesterday and scheduled 18 of them. Those are freaking great numbers! If I can even do half of that today, I’ll be on track.”
I put myself back in a positive mindset, remind myself that I can do it, and continue on with a smile.
Whether you think you can or whether you think you can, you’re right.
Rule 3: Be Nice
I’m sure everyone has had those days where they wake up, do not feel like waking up, have five thousand things to do, and just start the day out on the wrong foot. I’ve been there many times. On days like those, I figure no amount of pride or thankfulness is going to shake me out of my funk, so I move onto a matter bigger than myself, and I do something nice for someone.
Last time I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, I went to Starbucks and bought my administrator her favorite coffee. I truly believe you get what you give out of life. In this case, doing something nice for another helps get karma back in my favor. By the time I got to work and saw how surprised and appreciative she was, that smile found its way back on my face. A few weeks later, I forgot my thermos of coffee at home, and my administrator happened to surprise me with a coffee that morning! What a day.
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment
before starting to improve the world.
Rule 4: Be Active
Keeping up a PMA takes work! It’s not always easy to be happy! If it were, there’d be not point in me writing this post or even having this blog. I make sure to write in my grateful journal of the things and people I’m appreciative for. I actively looking for good things that have happened throughout the day.
I prepare and put myself in good situations and try to give of myself to help those around me. I work towards being happy so that it is a natural part of my life.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.
Life, however, isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, is it? Of course not. There are unforeseen circumstances that come our way, and we may have no idea how to handle them. Sometimes it can be very difficult to be positive let alone happy, and you might think these rules are dumb and there’s no way they can help you. But that’s having a pretty negative attitude, isn’t it?!
But hey, even I felt that way in an instance a few years ago, and that’s when I learned you have to be ready to be happy before you can actually be happy.
On February 8, 2010, my cousin Steven passed away by taking his own life. I got the phone call from my cousin/best friend Nick, and those words threw me against a wall. That pain was a feeling deeper love. I sobbed uncontrollably and even start to tear up now thinking about it. How could this happen?!? WHY! He has a SON! This isn’t fair! I just saw him two days ago! NO! This isn’t happening! I hate this! I love him! WHY! NO!
The visitation and funeral were a haze yet completely unforgettable. I wanted to be with no one but my family. I became a selfish friend who only cared about herself. I slept and slept and cried and slept and cried. Everything was a blur. Nothing mattered. Absolutely nothing mattered. I only wanted to be with my family but had a difficult time being there for anyone but myself all at the same time.
My friends were amazing and I am so blessed they were there for me, but no amount of love could touch the pain. I woke up crying for six weeks. I couldn’t get through a day without feeling the weight of my broken heart.
About two months later, I decided I couldn’t take being this sad anymore. The weight of the sadness could not consume my life any longer. I took a walk by myself to get a clear mind, a mind without thoughts or feelings, a blank slate. I didn’t have it in me to be happy yet. I didn’t know how. But I knew I needed to just take one small step. So I decided that I was going to find one thing to be happy about each day. Just one thing. I was going to write it down in my journal. All I had to do was write down one sentence a day. I can do that.
After my walk I drove over to a stationary store to buy some cards. When I got out of my car, I heard a song. Music? I’ve never heard any music being played out here. I don’t know where it was coming from, but my favorite song was on. “A Whole New World” from the Disney movie Aladdin was playing from some unknown source. Okay, I thought. Okay. This is crazy, but that’s my one thing for today. I went home, and wrote it down.
I wrote out so many cards to thank the amazing friends and faculty at my school for supporting me during Steven’s death, and doing this was cathartic. It helped put me back in the mindset of being thankful (rule 1). I was actively doing something to make myself happy, or at least recognizing something that made me happy.
Only a week after I started writing down that one thing a day that made me happy, I felt more like myself. Life was now more than bearable. I started to wake up a little happier. I started to take more care of myself. I started to reach out to friends.
I started following these rules, and little by little, I started becoming me again.
Though I have always been a jovial person, I also like to actively seek out my own happiness. I don’t make any excuses for myself, and I am a better person because of it.These four rules of PMA are a very key ingredient in my happy life, and I hope they can be an ingredient in yours, too.