A friend asked me this weekend if I was happy. I don’t believe happiness is a perpetual state, but rather it is a combination of experiences and moments that cling together to provide elation and stimulate our body’s natural endorphins.
Let me explain.
As humans, we define and rank things in life with our ‘favorites’ all getting an assigned, unique value to measure their worth.
Friends are categorized as best, casual, occasional or acquaintances. Moms and Dads are #1 or World’s Greatest while siblings are categorized by age: Older brother, baby sister, etc.
Our travel haunts get names such as best vacation locale, most beautiful island, most romantic spot while we give hotels and restaurants adjectives such as frou-frou, quaint, boutique, charming or chic.
We organize our ‘to-dos’ assigning a numerical value by order of priority and we manage our speed dial lists by order of life relationship and rank: spouse, child, parent, sibling, friends or boss.
It appears that everything and everyone in life is compartmentalized into the appropriate file, drawer, container or category. Nothing is immune to this – everything is given its proper distinction.
Ask my wife about how I rank friends, family, food, books or music and she can list for you all of my ‘favorites’, my ‘specials’, my ‘don’t likes’ and my absolute ‘need-to-have’. Ask me the same about her and I will ask you to give me a particular year because her tastes have changed with time. If you truly know someone, then you know about these hidden, secret, virtual compartments where they keep that which is most precious to them. If you know someone and you want to know them well, these are the things you need to make second nature in your life.
My friends know that mayonnaise on a sandwich for me is a no-go, they know that I’m the one who will most likely order a regular cup of coffee after dinner and they also know that if they need to find a song – it is probably on my iPod. Just as I know that I have a friend who doesn’t like to see white onions in her food, another who will probably never eat anything but meat and potatoes at any restaurant and yet another, who will always order an espresso after dinner.
Understanding someone’s likes and dislikes gives you a complete entranceway into contributing to the tiny moments of their life that cling together to define their happiness. People like to be noticed, people like to be coddled and people like to be remembered. It’s inherent in our DNA from birth and a little attention goes a very long way.
As I was sitting at lunch today at one of my neighborhood haunts, my waiter came up to me with a Diet Coke in hand and said, ‘Tuna Salad is really dry today, just like you like it.’ I said, ‘Sure, sounds good.’ A few minutes later I had a Tuna Salad sandwich on Whole Wheat Toast with lettuce, tomato and red onion. My plate had no coleslaw (comes with every sandwich but I abhor it) and an extra pickle (to make up for the absent coleslaw). I didn’t have to specify or give instructions.
My waiter noticed me. My waiter knows me.
And, even though it was just a Tuna Sandwich and even though we truly are not friends, it was nice to be noticed and it was nice to be known.
That tiny moment gave me a twinge of happiness. Couple the moment with perhaps seeing my wife walk in the door from work tonight, seeing a picture of my Grandsomeones on Facebook or biting into a really, delicious piece of chocolate cake and these bits of bliss will make today a happy today.
Collecting different moments of joy with each tomorrow that follows today will put happiness right on your path. In fact, you will be walking on its road long before you even realize there is a smile on your face.