Today is International Happiness Day: how’s that working out?

It’s normal not to wake up every day pumped, buzzing and raring to go. But what if it could be?

Can you imagine what would happen if you woke up every single day with the same fire in your belly for the day ahead that you had when you were four?

Can you imagine what would happen if you woke up every single day with the same fire in your belly for the day ahead that you had when you were four?

 

My Dad died on International Happiness Day. I remember it being distinctly un-happy.

A few years on, I find myself reflecting. Firstly, what even is happiness? My co-author is a Dr of Happiness (yes, really!) and he reckons happiness isn’t real, as in, it’s not a “thing”. It’s an emotion. Google it and you’ll find a ground-breaking definition, “The state of being happy.” Great. I’m none the wiser. Then there are the synonyms: pleasure, joy, delight, glee, high spirits, carefreeness and other wonderful words such as blitheness. I’m not even sure what “blitheness” actually is?

Which takes me to reflection number two. I will never forget my son’s first day at school which was, bizarrely, a Friday. It was a two-hour taster visit and then he’d start his first full day the following week. Fair dos.

I woke up on the Monday of that week to discover Kian stood beside me at 6am dressed in full school uniform. I reminded him that his first day was in fact Friday. “I know,” he replied firmly, “I’m practising.”

He also practised Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, standing at the foot of my bed, ship-shape and inspection ready at 6am. He forgot on the actual Friday because he was exhausted by his unbroken run of early mornings, but that’s not the point.

I woke him on Friday and he leaped out of bed, threw his uniform on and came sprinting into our room. My wife and I smiled weary early-morning-parenting smiles. I told Kian that I’d never seen him this excited before in his entire life. He agreed wholeheartedly. “That’s because I’ve never been this excited in my entire life.” There was a brief pause for he delivered the best bit. “And I’ve been alive for five years!” His eyes grew wider and he rose to his tiptoes in glee. “In fact, Dad, I’ll show you how excited I am. I am Thiiiiis Much excited!”

Please picture a 5-year-old with his arms stretched so wide they’re almost touching behind his back. Shoulder blades touching. if you’re struggling, imagine an angler who’d caught a very big fish but was also prone to gross exaggeration, and you’re in the right ball park.

You can probably remember being five. Pretty much everything’s exciting at that age, so to be beyond “normal” excitement and to have ventured into “Thiiiiis much excited” – we’re in “unmitigated joy” territory.

That morning, my wife and I had a wonderful discussion about how, in that moment, there were thousands of young kids all waking up feeling the same – buzzing, pumped and ready to go. Raring to throw themselves into the next step of life’s adventure.

We continued to talk about how amazing it is that some people remain like that throughout life. every single springy step of the journey, the infectious energy, the buzz, the Shine. And then we had a really weird discussion about how some people never feel like that again. Their wee piece of magic dwindles, it fizzles and vanishes. It’s like your rice krispies that you poured milk on and forgot. An hour later, their snap, crackle and pop is just a mushy mess.

Could it be that some people peak at five?

Gavin Oattes: I’m willing to put money on it that every single person reading this article absolutely categorically does NOT want normal.
Gavin Oattes: 'I’m willing to put money on it that every single person reading this article absolutely categorically does NOT want normal.'

There is, of course, a downside to taking the next step in your adventure. Fear. Worry. Stress. Anxiety. You are excited and yet it’s tinged with what might go wrong. It might not work. You know the oft-trotted mantra of “failure is not an option” is nonsense. Failure is an actual thing. You know because you’ve experienced it.

But when you’re four or five – even though you’re a little scared – you’re “Thiiiiis much excited”.

So, what about you? Did you wake up this International Happiness Day feeling “Thiiiiis much excited”? Or are you the angler that caught the stickleback of joy?

How often do you wake up on a Monday morning pumped, buzzing and raring to go? Are you waking up every single day energised, happy, driven and frothing with passion? We’re not talking about some days or most days, we mean EVERY SINGLE DAY!

If your answer is No then there’s a word for people like you: normal.

It’s absolutely normal. It’s normal to not wake up every day genuinely pumped full of energy, buzzing, raring to go.

What good is having a belly if there is no fire in it?

In work it’s normal too. It’s normal for an organisation to NOT have all their people waking up every morning fit to burst with excitement at the prospect of going to work and banging out world-class customer service. If you skip into work “frothing with passion”, someone’s going to be making you a doctor’s appointment.

Think about this for a moment.

It’s normal. You’re normal.

It is now the norm to NOT have people waking up energised, buzzing and raring to go to work. to go do the things they have chosen to do, every single day.

I’m going to say it once more.

It’s normal. And it doesn’t sit well with me. So here are a couple of rhetoricals to get your juices flowing.

Firstly, what good is having a belly if there’s no fire in it?

And secondly, do you want “normal”?

I’m willing to put money on it that every single person reading this article absolutely categorically does NOT want normal.

I’m willing to wager that you are in fact looking for, working for, hoping for, striving for, dreaming about something absolutely extraordinary. Something exciting, engaging, purposeful, colourful – even a little bit scary? Something that makes a difference.

Something that makes you happy.

Something that makes you feel “Thiiiiis much excited”.

Can you imagine what would happen if you woke up every single day with the same fire in your belly for the day ahead that you had when you were four?

It would be extraordinary. Abnormal even.

But can you imagine what you’d achieve? And how you’d feel? And the impact you’d have on the normal?

It’s a mix of frightening and enlightening, but in the most beautiful way you could ever imagine.

Moreover, it’s a mindset. A choice. It costs nothing.

So raise your glass and let’s propose a toast:

“To the abnormal. To the happiness outliers. To those who dare. To those who are ‘Thiiiiis much excited’.”

To my Dad.

To YOU.

It’s time to shine.

SHINE: Rediscovering Your Energy, Happiness and Purpose by Dr Andy Cope and Gavin Oattes is out on March 30th, published by Capstone and available on Amazon for £10.99 http://www.dayofhappiness.net/#join

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