As part of my school I am given the opportunity to speak once a year at an all school meeting. This is this year’s speech.
This slide show was playing as the girls walked in. It is a collection of the survey answers my school submitted when I asked them, “What have you done today for no other reason than it makes you happy?” With this song and this song playing.
Then I was introduced.
I had a grand debate on how to start this speech. Do I start with a picture of me? Or do I start with a picture of Casey?
This is my friend Casey. I want to tell you a little bit about her. Casey wears a lot of neon, she also has a great laugh. I would describe Casey as happy. Casey is happy. She is loud and silly and happy.
This is also Casey. Casey spent the last two years at seminary studying to be a pastor. She is an intern pastor in Colorado. Casey has a blog that I read regularly. I like everything that Casey writes.
We will get back to Casey. This is me.
I am 19 in this picture. This is a fairly typical day as 19-year old Anne. You see, 19-year-old Anne was sad. In fact, I was sad for 4 years. I spent the four years of my life that were supposed to be the awesome college years being depressed. And let me tell you being depressed sucked. After four years of therapy, anti-depressants, and a lot of quality family time (maybe too much) I came out of my depression. And I came away with one main thought: I want to be happy. I do not want to waste my time being depressed. I had already lost four years of my life, why would I want to lose more?
Okay back to Casey, here is some of Casey’s blog. I’m going to read a bit of it to you:
Every Thursday, a bunch of area clergy come to our church for my favorite two hours of the week. Today’s first hour was spent talking about where we find joy outside of our work. The question was posed as such: What did you do in the last week or so that was for the express purpose of bringing you joy? What do you do on a regular basis to carve out intentional time just for joy?
Casey goes on to list a whole bunch of things she does. She wears neon, goes to the gym, watches tv and so forth. And then she ends with this:
After reading this I immediately started making the list of things that I do:
I read books.
I go a whole day without talking to anyone.
I sing in my car.
I do math.
I do these because they make me happy. They make me feel balanced. All of these things are things I do just for me. No one else cares whether or not I do these things.
I’m gonna start the second part of this slide show now so feel free to listen and watch at the same time. [At this point more of the happiness slides filtered through.]
This year, I am working as dorm affiliate duty on the Zoo [a hall at my school]. I love it. They are the reason I decided to talk about this. The other night for my check in question I asked, “What is the best thing that happened to you today?” more then half of them said nothing. I mean seriously? Nothing good happened to you all day? NOTHING?
I started to realize that we often compete over who had a worse day. We take a sick pleasure in being the unhappiest.
WHAT IS UP WITH THAT?
Why are we making the choice to be unhappy?
Why are we focusing on the bad instead of the good?
Is it really that bad?
Why wouldn’t you want to be the person would is happy because they heard a song or found corgis? Those people seem awesome!
So I have decided to start Our Happiness Project.
Basically it works likes this:
Step 1: Instead of running up to your friend and telling them the worst thing that happened to you that day, I want you to ask them for a good thing that happened to them.
Step 2: REALLY LISTEN to their answer. See if it changes your mood.
This is the hardest part but honestly, happiness is contagious.
Step 3: Start and end your story with something good. If you must talk about the bad sandwich it in good.
Example: I am so excited to be giving this speech today. I almost didn’t make it as I could only find one of my two shoes. This is a constant battle for me. But I looked at that cute corgi and my day is turning around.
Step 4: Don’t engage in the worst day ever contest. Because everyone loses that game.
Seriously, you want to be the person with the worst day? Either that or your friend feels like you are not really listening because all you do is talk about you. Come on, don’t be that person.
Okay, now this is important: I understand that you are going to have bad days. I have them, too. It is okay to be sad or unhappy sometimes. It is okay to love your life and still feel like crap on occasion but it is not okay with me if you spend every day of your four years here focusing on the bad. I happen to know you did not have the worst day ever because you are here. So, I am asking you to tell me something good. If you see me in the hallway or you are just bursting with something that happened TELL ME, I want to know. I always want to know your happy.
Lastly, if you think that your day couldn’t possibly be any worse. Come see me, I know some pretty terrible jokes.
Happiness is RAD.