Tagged: TED Talk

You Can Choose to be Happy

In all honesty this is something that I never believed.  Self help literature will tell you this.  My parents told me this (they phrased it as ” PMA or Positive Mental Attitude”), but when you’re bummed this advice can seem anywhere from asinine to downright malicious.  Well since it’s Valentine’s Day –  a day that traditionally breaks to either Way Too High Expectations or Total Misery depending on whether or not you’re in a relationship – I figured we could all use some PMA.

But first let me get to the origin of this post.  I work at a massive corporate book store (you can probably guess which one since as far as I know, it’s the only one still around).  We on the sales floor have a quota that we have to meet for signing up new customers for the company’s Membership program. It costs $25.00 per year, offers a 10% discount, and if we don’t consistently make our quota we get fired.  Naturally this can be a hard sell. When people do the math they realize they would need to spend $250.00 per year at our company just to break even. While it’s a very good deal for very specific types of people, our average customer would lose money by getting one.  As such, small transactions (anything under $50) are bad news for the cashiers because they make for a very tough sell.  Very small transactions ($2-5.00) are the bane of our existence because the sale is all but impossible.

Normally I’m a pretty good salesman. I almost always exceed my quota. However this month I’ve been doing very poorly. Getting a talking-to from my managers kind of poorly. The kind of poorly that I thought would not happen at a job ever again.  So I really, really need to sell some Memberships.  On top of all that, it’s the day before Valentine’s day – a time of year that I typically hate and get depressed about – and I’m feeling pretty lonely. T

he only sales that I make all day are Valentine’s Day cards. Hundreds of them. Destroying my already meager quota numbers and making me feel worse and worse as the day goes on. Finally I clock out and  go home feeling about as dark and dismal as I can. I spend the rest of the day like that.  But then I watched this very inspiring video, a TED talk from Alain de Botton

That got me thinking about what I was doing with my life, and more importantly how I felt about it. I decided it was time for some PMA. So I wrote in my journal about things that I wanted to change. I also wrote about how I wanted to feel.  I was in such a dark place the day before Valentine’s day. But what if I decided that on February 14th I was going to be happy? How nice would it be to wake up on a day that is typically the worst one of the year, and actually enjoy it? I made the decision that Today, I am going to be Happy.

I went to bed with that thought. I woke up with that thought. It’s cold and gray and snowing outside. I am alone on the day of love. And you know what? I’m actually happy. I really am enjoying what I have been given – one more day being alive. The fact that I chose to be happy and actually feel happy makes me even happier.  I think that this is a big pivot point in my life.  The knowledge that being a bummer is completely my choice makes it much less appealing than if it were something that just happened to me. The choice is mine. Just like the choice is yours.

What do you think of this idea? Is it something you have tried in your own life? Leave a comment and let me know.

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