While vacationing in the Caribbean, I had the leisure to observe families, couples and individuals without being detected – like the fly on the wall. I wouldn’t exactly call it spying, just paying attention. When people wear scant clothing on the beach, stripped down to core behavior – without all the pretenses—you learn a great deal about human nature and most importantly your own.
My traveling companions asked me if I was on a Prozac drip because I was so cheerful. While they complained about the unusual seasoning, slow service or the waiters’ inability to communicate in English, I delighted in the variety of the buffet, the gorgeous pathways and the amazing experience of warmth, breeze and relaxation; most importantly, I unplugged from technology to get into a more natural rhythm first with myself, and then with others. With a gardener’s eyes, I praised the landscape and absorbed its beautiful generosity. Although I don’t speak Spanish, I greeted everyone in the few Spanish words in my repertoire, thanking the hotel staff for everything; consequently, they couldn’t do enough. I noticed that very few people said, “Gracias” or greeted the staff. It was as if they were entitled to all the beauty and luxury while others peopled their world. Too bad because they shortchanged themselves: Civility generates happiness! Smiles rebound good energy.
Here are 4 happiness generators
Happy people don’t have the best of everything. They make the best of what they have.
- It couldn’t be simpler: Happy couples are kind to one another. Even couples who have been together for 40 years act lovingly in small ways. On the other hand, many couples who are distant compete with one another. Each one becomes selfish - two selfish people whose personal needs collide. Most likely a history of suppressed anger and hurt overwhelmingly dictate present-day interactions. One is on high alert, waiting to pounce and berate one’s partner for any perceived indiscretion. Isn’t it time to declare a truce and get reacquainted? Every individual has buried treasure – start excavating!
- Express gratitude. Words evoke feelings and using positive words helps you to perceive the cup as half full. If the plane is delayed or airport security lines are long - safe arrival tips the scale. On vacation my friends kept saying that the “squeaky wheel gets greased.” However, squeaky people are unhappy in their annoyed demands, getting aggravated. Try patience and humor. Begin with one another and then expand to other people in your circle, especially those in the service business. Soon you will be having a romance with life.
- Get back to nature; walk rather than ride hotel golf carts. Walking encourages couples to speak casually or profoundly. Many of these conversations might never happen otherwise.
- Life on earth resembles a vacation – it is limited. Therefore experiencing life with your five senses maximizes your joy about being above ground. Human beings are designed to move to feel alive and alert and to shed stress. Caribbean rhythms coaxed most vacationers to use their natural rhythm and dance with spontaneity and joy. Couples who are in rhythm on the dance floor get physical in other ways.
- Remove your mask and become your true self. I overheard older women wistfully wishing to have the great bodies of younger bikini-clad women. Better to redirect these self-pitying impossible comparisons to becoming the best you can be. For example, I was an obese teen with bad acne and ugly glasses. I lost the weight, got treated for acne and fitted with contact lenses. I changed just for me because I uncovered my hidden girl within. I worked on myself for myself not because I “should” do it. Therefore the positive changes took hold. And by the way while I was obese, I cultivated the inside – intellect and creativity. I wouldn’t change this progression for anything. Each of us is changing along with our significant other –clearly love cannot stand still. Grow together instead of apart.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-management specialist and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com