My friend’s toddler often proclaims, “I’m happy.” It’s absolutely adorable when she says this, especially if we are in the midst of dancing together, playing, or cuddling. She also makes this statement when she is tired, as if it will deter me from putting her down for a nap. I couldn’t possibly interrupt the happiness of a toddler by making her take a nap, but I do. I always tell her she can be happy and tired at the same time. We have had many, many conversations about the fact that we can have more than one emotion at the same time. Our pre-naptime conversation went something like this:
Toddler: I’m happy.
Me: You can be happy and tired at the same time.
Toddler: Yeah. (Pause, during which I think the concept of two emotions at once has finally sunk in.) Djuna, I’m just happy.
So we will be spending some more time talking about emotions and the possibility of being happy and tired at the same time.
All of this got me thinking. As adults we rarely proclaim when we are happy. So often we let others know when we are upset, having a bad day, not feeling well, etc. (And so often we don’t tell people and just act out our emotions effectively making us look like jerks.) What if we actually told people exactly how we were feeling? Sure, it’d be weird at first and it would probably confuse the hell out of a lot of people, but it could also be pretty wonderful. If you told people when you were happy that would allow others to join in your happiness. It would also let people know exactly what makes you happy so they are able to contribute to making you happy in the future, if they so desire. No guess work, just facts. And what would that do to us if we actually stopped to recognize and acknowledge when we are happy? It’s easy to focus on the negative, the stuff that’s going wrong, but what about the stuff that is going right? If we spent a little more time focusing on the positive, the times when we are happy, we might just find that it is more often than we believe it to be.