People ask me all the time, “How can you be happy when life just sucks sometimes?” For some reason, they think I’ll know the answer.
The thing is, I have hardships just like anyone else. I don’t think that means my life sucks. Life is great. Some experiences suck, but really, life is potential. When I think of the world life, I think of things like plants, light, love, movement, and exploration. Those are pretty great things. Hardships are what we have to learn to handle.
While I don’t think I’m the happiest person on the planet, I have found some things that have helped me cultivate a happy attitude. By sharing one of these methods with you, I hope that you will be able to find hope in your difficulties as well.
It all started with one little girl.
The Pollyanna Method
When I was young, my family used to watch the movie, Pollyanna. It’s a story of a little girl who changes a town with her positivity. People no one seemed able to reach were changed. She claimed it was because of a secret game her father and she played. The game was that every time something bad happened, they would wrack their minds to find something about it that was good.
I remember hearing this, and I thought it would be a fun challenge. I started to think like Pollyanna. Something would go wrong and I would think, “What would Pollyanna say about this situation.” It helped me to get through so many hardships. Honestly, I use this method today as well.
Recently, I received a large responsibility. I was excited about the opportunity but terrified I wouldn’t be good enough. I worried that somehow someone had made a mistake. How did they think I was qualified for this position? I started to have so many negative thoughts wander through my head and camp out in it. By the end of the night, I cried on the floor of my room, worrying I wouldn’t be good enough.
Even in situations like this, there is always a Pollyanna answer. Some are so much harder than others, but there always is one. For this experience, I realized that this could be a wonderful opportunity for me if I let it be. I would have to organize my life, develop attributes like kindness and charity more, and learn from the women I would be over. I was able to step back and realize that even in a hard circumstance like this, I could grow.
Not every situation will be this easy to think of a Pollyanna answer for. If one of your loved ones died, you obviously wouldn’t be thinking, “Well, at least I’ll get some inheritance money.” That would be disrespectful and despicable. However, with every hardship comes growth.
That’s my secret.
Really, that’s it.
Obviously, it’s a lot easier said than done, but in actuality, it’s simple. Let’s try an experiment. I want you to think of something that happened to you today that was tough. Let’s start with something small. Maybe your hair was not cooperating today. Maybe someone cut in front of you on the highway. Think back to what your immediate thought was. Was it negative? Positive?
Let’s rethink this reaction now. Was there a kinder or more positive way to think? If your problem was the hair not working out, you could think this way: My hair may not be the best, but my shirt looks amazing. Or at least I have naturally straight hair. If your problem was more along the lines of poor driving, you could think this way: Maybe they were headed to the hospital. Or at least I had a great reaction time and we were safe.
Do you see how this kind of thinking quickly changes an attitude?
When I named this post, I almost titled it, “How to be happy when life sucks.” After thinking a little more and getting my thoughts down on paper, I retitled it to “How to cultivate happiness in hardships” because happiness isn’t a state of being. It is something you work toward. You have the power to cultivate your own happiness. I can’t stress this enough. You have the control over your own happiness.
I also changed the name because I realized that life doesn’t suck. It really can be amazing. The hardships are what make it difficult, but even those are helpful because they shape us into better versions of ourselves. Look at your trials, and visualize how they can ultimately benefit you.
Remember Pollyanna, and begin cultivating an attitude of happiness today.