Don’t be a Hater (a how-to guide to being happy)

So after my post about haters I promised to write a blog post about how I got off the cycle of negativity. The problem is that it took me a long time and a lot of hard work to do it (both the blog post and ending the cycle of negativity). Consequently, the blog post kept getting longer and longer and longer.

First of all though, let me tell you that I used to be a super negative person. I was easily irritated or angry and hated on a lot of folks. If you had met me about 4-5 years ago you might have noticed that it wasn’t pretty and I was fairly unhappy. So, one day I realized how I felt and I decided to do something about it. The first thing I did was read all those goofy stupid self-help books about being a better me, or finding my path to enlightenment, meditation for dummies, seven secrets for happier people, etc… and even those irritated me. But really, one day I just decided to take a more serious role in changing my perspective on everything. After I made that decision it all became easy.

If you want to know what worked for me, this is my list. Feel free to create your own.

Take responsibility
I used to work in a group home and when one of the kids acted out and retaliated against another kid or said or did something mean, they would just say, “I can’t help it, that’s just way I am.” This is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. In fact, I would argue that the only thing you can control is yourself and your emotions. You can either feel good or feel bad. It’s a choice. If you’re feeling mad or upset or anything, simply choose to feel good. It sounds stupidly easy but it’s hard at first. Keep practicing, soon you’ll get it.

Change your Inner Monologue
I think this was the hardest thing to change. It’s just so easy to hear that kid screaming in the restaurant, or have that horribly bad driver in front of you, or read that guy’s stupid comment on your blog post, and think terrible thoughts about them in a split second. It happens without even thinking. But, you can take a couple of seconds or minutes after that thought and try to realize that maybe there are other things going on in their lives, that they’re not happy, or just take a deep breath, smile and move on.

Take a Deep Breath
That leads me to taking a deep breath. This was the most valuable lesson I ever learned. I taught martial arts for about 6 years and I worked for a guy who made us all take a deep breath as we walked through the door to work. As we exhaled that breath we visualized letting go of everything that happened to us up until that point in time. As we got better at it, we learned to separate what happens at home with what happens at work. Eventually, we started doing it when we went home so we didn’t take work with us. You could basically do this anytime you go anywhere so nothing that bothers you follows you anywhere.

Wear a Reminder
I’ve always had something on my wrist. It’s usually a band of some kind and it has been a variety of things from wristbands to watches to pieces of string or a hemp bracelet. Whatever it is it’s meant to be completely symbolic. It’s just a reminder to be the person I want to be, which is a happier person. I’ve been thinking about getting it as a tattoo.

Love People
I don’t think I need to explain this. But fall in love. Fall in love a hundred times a day.

Change your Routine
My routine was really getting me down once. There were a bunch of things I did that got me irritated throughout the day. I would watch TV and the commercials would irritate me but every night I watched TV anyway. I would read the news online and the comments would irritate me, but I would read the comments anyway. It goes on and on. Anyway, stop doing the crap that makes you mad.

Make a routine
How about a new routine? I started reading things that made me happier, watching movies instead of TV, finding websites that had funnier comments, etc… This is real easy. Things like the interwebs or television or books or whatever are either super funny or they’re super irritating. The good thing is that you can choose which experience you want to have.

Morning Dance Party
Every morning, just dance. I highly recommend the Jackson 5 channel on Pandora. It’s pretty epic.

Music
In the movie Empire Records, Lucas said to Warren (I know his name isn’t Warren) “You know, someone like you needs to diminish their criminal impulses, not magnify them. Maybe some jazz or some classical.” The same holds true for everyone. If you want to diminish your negative impulses, check your music selection. Even Rob in High Fidelity asked the eternal question – “Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” Either way, play whatever makes you happy. I know JP Porcarro will tell you to party to some Skrillex but that’s nto for everyone either. Find what makes you happy.

Negativity Begets negativity

It gets real easy to be negative if you’re around negative haters. It’s real easy to fall back into that cycle. If you know some negative folks, drop them like the bad habit they are. This is probably the hardest thing. I was easy for me because I moved, but not everyone can be that lucky but if you need to move that is always a viable option.

Give things to people
About three years ago, Julie Strange sent me a button with a guitar on it. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. It’s strange (no pun intended) how much the little things like that can change your perspective for the whole year. It really made me feel good for no particular reason except that someone somewhere thought about me at some point. I still have that button on my boat. Ever since then, I’ve tried to make it a point to give things to random people for no reason and that makes me happy.

Write some Letters
The old fashioned way like with a pen and paper and some stamps. You could even write a love letter if you want! Writing a letter is a great way to express yourself and the act of actually physically going to put it in the mail forces you to take note of that action. Plus a hand written physical letter means a lot more to a lot of people. They can put it on their desks or walls and think about you. They may even write back and that should make you happy too. If you write me, I might write you back!

Party Hard
Find a group of people that make you happy and party with them. You don’t need drugs or alcohol or anything but a good time. If you need some inspiration for this you need to be following Andrew W.K. and JP Porcaro online. They are always a party and a good time.

Make It Happen
The last and biggest thing that makes me happy is having a bunch of goals. I get really unhappy when I don’t have goals. I need a huge project or something to look forward to in order to keep me going. I do things like the Story Sailboat, or my Guitar Collection, getting my Captain’s License, or the Seed Library to keep me motivated. I highly recommend making some kind of list of things you want to work toward. You can even doing it socially with one of my favorite websites called bucketlist.org. It’s great! Find me there and we can share our goals.

16 thoughts on “Don’t be a Hater (a how-to guide to being happy)

  1. I love this. Changing your thinking patterns is the point of therapy, and changing your thinking patterns causes physical changes in the brain. I’m bookmarking this.

  2. All great advice Patrick! Changing your outlook on life isn’t easy, but well worth all the hard work. One thing people forget is that it takes time to start thinking and behaving differently, not something that’s going to happen overnight.

    I was in a similar situation several years ago. Took a step back and realized that I didn’t like who I was and that I wasn’t happy. I was full of negative energy. I wrote out things that I wanted to change and then set out to change them. Your steps above reads almost identical to what I started doing. One of the other things that helped me a lot was writing in a journal. If I’m feeling down or upset I can vent all those feelings there and just let them go instead of allowing them to drag me down. I can now honestly say that I’m a completely different person, an amazingly happy person.

    Keep up all the awesome, you rock!

    1. That’s a good one and something I forgot about. I did start out writing in journals and I totally forgot about that. I have about a dozen moleskins filled from that time.

  3. Thanks for sharing all of this PC. Since I’ve only “known” (quotes cause it’s virtual!) as such a positive person it’s hard to imagine you as being a negative hater. I think we tend to think that people can’t change but as someone who feels they have changed quite a bit in the last few years, I’ve realized that we often use our past and how people have treated us as a crutch. And that doesn’t get us very far. As hard as it is, and as many days as I still have where I need to listen to Adele and cry (ha!), there are many more days where I feel positive about my life and about the choices that I have made, not someone else. And when I start to go down that rabbit hole of “it’s not fair, etc etc” I pull myself up and I listen to some old school hip hop and dance around my room. 🙂

  4. It’s weird, I was thinking of doing a similar post, but focused more on breaking out of the cycle of depression. A lot of similar concepts were on my list, including indulging in books, music and tv/movies you like (roku box + amazon instant and/or netflix = AMAZING. Spotify = AMAZING. Used books via Better World Books = AMAZING. Get on it!)

    I also just want to bring up one more important point. BE PROUD OF YOURSELF. Seriously. We’re harder on ourselves than anyone. Give yourself credit for all the awesome things you do, even if they don’t feel that awesome. Sometimes your accomplishments are big ones, and sometimes they’re not, but they’re still accomplishments. If I’m having a tough day, and I manage to get my laundry done or my dishes washed, I pat myself on the back. When I can’t even get those things done, I congratulate myself for having my finances in order, even if I didn’t do anything special with them that particular day. Because being a grown up is hard, yo, and you’re doing it! So congratulations, you win! I find that often we are more quickly to forgive/give credit to/make allowances for others than we are for ourselves. Be the best you that you can be, dive into the things you are passionate about, and then, most importantly, learn to genuinely love yourself. Because you can’t expect others to love you if you can’t even find it in your hear to love yourself.

  5. Well done, dude. I’ve been looking forward to this post and you’ve delivered. All of the above is solid advice. I went through a self-help period too! Sometimes, when it gets real quiet, I can still hear Zig Ziglar in my head.

    Something I do to check myself is to imagine how a person I like (or, a person who sees me as I like to be seen), sees me right then. If I’m doing or saying something stupid I think, would Person X think this was in character for me? Works wonders.

    Nice post!

  6. Thanks for this post. It’s really refreshing. I think sometimes library bloggers get so caught up in the challenges and hurdles and we allow ourselves to become Debbie Downers. I agree with what Kendra (above) says about learning. I know I become negative when I’m bored or when I don’t have (non-library) outlets for creativity.

  7. Awesome, awesome post! After being in an extremely depressing job situation, I finally got out of there and realized something rather scary – that job was pretty darn awful, but I let it get to me on a deeper, personal level. I used it as an excuse to wallow and be depressed and inactive. No more! I shook myself out of that funk (with the help from my husband and some awesome friends)and now I couldn’t be happier, personally or professionally. My current job might not be the “dream job”, but it’s put me in a good position to make some positive changes, help a bunch of people, and become more active in professional groups. Thank you for posting this – and I whole-heartedly second the “Just dance” suggestion. 🙂

  8. Be grateful and say thank you to the universe everyday. There is always something to be grateful about in your life. Like your kids for example.

  9. I just saw this! You’re fantastic, Patrick! Positivity and Love win the day! Thank you for sharing and carrying the torch. 🙂

    Also, I not only write hand-written letters, but when I travel i send postcards – and I make sure to send one to MYSELF reminding me of things i’ve learned or just sweet, happy notes to myself to come home to later!

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