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I am a localization manager/translator and intercultural consultant living in Berlin (Germany), passionate about languages, cultures, diversity management, body art, dancing, self-empowerment, coaching, effective communication and, last but not least, vegan gluten-free food and good movies.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

"What is happiness?", and the smallest daily action you can take, from now on, in order to be a little bit happier

If you could pick only two things, in order to define happiness, which ones would you go for?
German legendary novelist and poet Theodor Fontane [1819-1898] was pretty sure about his own picks:

Happiness, it seems to me, consists of two things: first, in being where you belong, and second -- and best -- in comfortably going through everyday life, that is, having had a good night's sleep and not being hurt by new shoes.

Which is a good and pragmatic answer, if you ask me.
A couple of weeks ago, while experimenting with a new pin-up look, I picked the wrong shoes out of necessity and oh boy, at the end of the day, my feet were absolutely not happy.

No doubt about the fact that Theodor Fontane was the pragmatic kind of guy, also famous for saying, more or less, that if one is happy already, should not desire to become even happier. [in German: "Wenn man gl├╝cklich ist, sollte man nicht noch gl├╝cklicher sein wollen"]


[Untitled street art by Trek Thunder Kelly (2014) in Venice, LA, CA (USA)
quoting Abraham Lincoln: 
"Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be"
Image source © Jennifer Saparzadeh]

But what if, even while being happy, one should still desire or aspire to get even happier?



As long as being happy happy happy crazy happy all the time no matter what is not seen as something we are entitled to or we should take for granted, and we can get pissed off about if it doesn't happen while snapping our fingers, there is nothing wrong with aspiring to get happier, in my humble opinion.

Desiring to become even happier doesn't mean trying to go from zero to sixty and expecting to spend every second of our day in a sort of exhilarating state of mind.
It can mean doing ordinary little things consistently, even better on a daily basis, in order to make our day and the day of people around us just a little bit better.

[In one of her beautiful letters to John Adams, 
Abigail Adams (1744-1818) wrote:
"We have too many high-sounding words, 
and too few actions that correspond with them"
She was right. Let's change this]

The small actions we can take, many times a day. 

An example?
Smiling at strangers on the street. [hashtag #keepsmiling]
How often do you smile at people around you that are perfect strangers to you?

What if I would challenge you to smile at least three people every day, on the street?
What if I would ask you to smile at least two new people during an event you are attending to?
What if I would suggest you see this as a game and to try to make at least one person smile back at you, per day?
No strings attached.

And even if they should not smile back, tomorrow will be a new day and you will get a new chance.
Nothing to lose, all to gain in the process. 

Maybe your smile can make their day. Sure thing, it will for sure improve your mood and make a stronger and more confident person out of you. 
Because you are brave enough to do this stuff and to risk something, in order to be just a little bit happier every day. And to keep trying, no matter what.

This one is for Nils. He's doing a great job at it.

Tags: Happiness, Habits, Quotes, Being brave, Smiling at strangers, Positive attitude, Smiling game

What to read next:
How to spend your next 16,000 days on Earth in the best way, and why that matters a lot

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