It’s good to feel happy, even when times are bad

But you should also ask yourself if maybe you are playing on the negative aspects of life and downplaying the positive ones. Is it possible that you are a little cherophobic? If so, remember that you risk becoming a more unhappy person, without that sadness benefiting others. To combat any aversion to contentment you may feel, consider the following two tips.

2. Think like a missionary.

If you have strong opinions on a topic, you probably want to change the way other people think and act. Ask yourself which is more compelling: anger and sadness, or joy and warmth? Missionaries understand this principle very well, so no matter how unhappy you are to see them, they always smile when they step on your porch.

Adopt the missionary spirit. Remember that your cause is a gift to others, so present it as such, without hatred, contempt or fear. Even if you have justified anger about the present, smile as you describe a better future.

3. Call on your inner contractor.

Imagine that you have encountered a huge entrepreneurial opportunity. You would like to appear as enthusiastic as possible in the presence of potential investors; if you acted indignant and bitter because no one had seized the opportunity yet, no one would invest. Or consider one of your long term goals, like starting a family or building a fun and exciting career. You will probably feel excited, and if you describe it to others, your enthusiasm for the goal will show.

If you think there is an opportunity to make things better through social change, you are more likely to achieve it if you are motivated, like it is a business or a big life goal. It’s not about pretending that the status quo is perfect, but rather that optimism about positive change is the best way to make people want to be a part of that change. Instead of seeing your concern as an unsolvable problem or a source of continuing misery, make it an exciting project. If that’s too intimidating, break your end goal down into more achievable steps. Let the effort energize you and let others see this energy.

Paramhansa Yogananda, who was one of the first great Hindu gurus to come to the West, gave this advice in his book Autobiography of a Yogi: “Learn to be secretly happy in your heart despite all circumstances, and say to yourself: happiness is the greatest divine birthright, the buried treasure of my soul.” I would go even further: share your buried treasure with those around you.

There is no need to keep your happiness a secret, suppress it, or bury it under complaints and outrage. Showing the joy in our hearts and sharing it with others will improve our lives. And if the state of the world really puts you in the trash, remember that finding and spreading joy in an imperfect world will make your life better and your progress efforts even more effective.


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