Young@Heart: Happiness To Spread

If you are a happy person, you know your very presence among others lights them up, even if they’re in a bad mood. That old saying, “Misery loves company,” implies miserable people love to be with other miserable people, but it could just as well mean misery loves happy company. Now there’s scientific proof that happiness can be spread just like the flu!

There was an article in the paper about a study MIT and Harvard conducted. The two prestigious schools discovered by using a formula that tracks the spread of infectious diseases like the flu, it could track the spread of happiness or sadness. They concluded both emotions spread like disease! We already know that laughter is contagious and I know I can cry when I see someone else crying. What this study can mean for us is we can spread joy or misery; it’s completely up to us.

Five years ago Terry’s daughter Kristi and her family came to stay with us for ten days. At the time the children were seven, nine and twelve. The day they’d spent flying across the country from their home in Boston to our home in Woodland, Washington sent them straight to bed as soon as they arrived. Their bodies were still adjusting to the three hour time difference the next day. That morning I suggested we have what I termed a “being,” not a “doing” day.

Kristi is born organized coming from a BO mother and father, and her first thought was to make a “To Be” list! We laughed at her natural desire to want to make a list and I couldn’t argue with her because part of having a “be” day is doing what you love. So you could make a list of things you love to do.

I know we can’t just sit on a mountain top and just “be.”  We of course have to eat, clean up after ourselves, get dressed and such, but the criteria for my kind of “being” day, is to love what you’re doing because then you’re “being” happy while you’re doing.

Kristi decided to ban electronics for the day and tried to explain to her children what the “being” day was going to “be” like. The conversation was interesting.

“Kids, we’re going to just ‘be’ today.”

“Huh?” three little voices answered in unison.

“Well, uh, we aren’t going to be ‘doing’ anything like going to the store, or uh planning anything.”

Kaytee the seven-year-old chirped, “Are we going to just relax?”

“Yeah that’s good. What else could it mean?”

“Can we play?” Kyle asked.

“Yes, play works.”

“Can we still try to trap chipmunks?”  Tanner wondered.

“By all means,” Kristi answered. (The last time the boys were here, they’d made a trap using an empty five-gallon paint bucket turned up-side-down with a five-inch tilt allowing the would-be victim chipmunk’s entry under the bucket. A twenty foot rope was attached to the bucket and the remains of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich was strategically placed under it while the patient trappers waited at the end of the rope to pull it closed if a hungry chipmunk should be enticed to munch on the treat. I’d saved their trap and had reminded them of it in emails.)

Watching these happy children play, I’ve come to the conclusion we can have every day be a “being” day if we just keep remembering to be joyful in everything we do. If you can’t conceive of having a being day and you have access to children, they can help you get with the program. Children live in a wonderful world of imagination and wonder and when given license to just be, they can be the best teachers for us adults.

Our children have little invisible antennas that tune into our moods and they thrive in the atmosphere of joy and laughter. Let’s be like children today and play!  We have a disease to spread and it’s called happiness!

Speaking of spreading joy, do you know a disorganized person who could use some positive words from a reformed slob? My last book on getting organized just enough to please you, makes a wonderful gift for someone who is struggling with low self-esteem because of her disorder. Here’s a link to a free chapter of my book The Joy of Being Disorganized. Please share it with someone you love, especially if that’s you.

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