Give morning kindness a chance!

Have you ever noticed that what happens during the morning hours often sets the tone for the rest of the day? When things go smoothly, you tend to feel more relaxed and ready to face whatever the day may bring. However, when things get bumpy before you’ve even managed to get dressed, you’re more likely to remain grumpy until bedtime.

I have to admit, despite my usual positive mood, I am that type of person which is a Grinch before drinking the coffee in the morning and that is why I am silent until I do so. I must be rather careful not to ruin my mojo before I get to my Nespresso machine :). Looking around me, the majority of people seem to be, especially in winter time, in a more silent, gloomy mood in the morning. Thus, the mood breaker can set off anytime. Well, what can you do: morning, less light outside, cold weather, occasional fog, traffic, the rain sometimes…it’s understandable that we may be sleepy and gloomy in the morning these days…but is there anything we can do about it to make sure we start the day on a high note?

Last week, something happened that made me see things a bit differently. I arrived at the office and went to buy my usual morning yoghurt and lemon juice at a nearby place. The lady in the store was in a very nice mood. She greeted me nicely, and at the end with a lot of kindness she told me to have a beautiful day despite the foggy weather. She said “you deserve some inner sunshine with all this grey weather”. I immediately reacted…actually…something just rose inside of me. Her words… were so uplifting. I thanked her… really.  She made my day and it was so damn easy… and my day from that point on went wonderfully well. And I am not bullshitting really.

Inspired by this I decided to make an experiment and bring joy in the morning to some people around me, send some good vibes, tell them nice words to see how they react. Well, you may have guessed it… people smile when they are told nice things when they least expect. In the morning, you may say you still are in in-between moods… until you set off for the day, so someone else being a catalyzer for a positive day is important.

The thing is the more I practice this good mood “giving” in the morning hours, the more I actually feel good myself. It’s almost like a good vibe boomerang.

I actually just saw recently (and it was a nice coincidence to my thoughts these days) that a video was circulating on Facebook about a social experiment done by someone to see how “telling people that are beautiful make them react”. The idea behind it is similar to what I was trying to put in words over here. In case you missed it, here it is, a must-watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW8BDgLpZkI

While obviously and realistically there is some hassles that can’t be avoided because of circumstances around us, you can make mood-enhancing decisions during the morning hours that will set the stage for the next 16 hours or so. And “giving” good vibes may be a rewarding simple act. Just try it once or twice. It costs nothing.

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Actually, there’s one thing you can do just anywhere and anytime to set a good mood around: Smile or put a touch of humor on things. “Smiling is a simple way to change your mood—and the mood of those around you, too.” (and this is documented by a scientist , Dr. McKay, by the way). So spread your good-mood wealth as often as possible in the morning as well as throughout the day. It may build in a lot of good vibe for you and people around me may feel even more attracted to your positive energy. So give a try the next morning, just for a change at least :).

Pleasure vs. Happiness: No…not the same thing!

I read some wise words by Dalai Lama last week, that just kept on coming back to me these days. Well, of course, I also took two flights this week, so there was a lot of spare time for thinking in the plane, however, it’s been a while since I have been so into words I read. He was saying “Learn to differentiate between what gives you pleasure and what makes you happy”.

I have never thought before to differentiate between pleasure and happiness, but then I realized how much sense it makes and how important it is. I have to admit… it hit me on the flight from Bucharest to Geneva that I am a pleasure seeking person and this is how I have been sustaining my happiness… I mean I always need to do something. I can’t stay still. If I do stay still and alone, I start over-evaluating things and most probably get sad. There is a good chance I have spent most of my energy in my life so far seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.

However, the pleasure seems to be always connected to an external factor: for example, graduating university, getting the dream job, the right project, being loved by someone, falling in love, great sex, travelling to a new place and so on. When the so-called thing that created the pleasure disappears, so does the happy state, which can only mean that the Pleasure by itself is not sustainable over long term…it is temporary.

Apparently, there is a huge difference between happiness and pleasure.  Pleasure is connected to the positive experiences of our senses, and with good things happening. Pleasurable experiences can give us temporary feelings of happiness, but this happiness does not last long because it is dependent upon external events and experiences. We have to keep on having the good experiences: more food, more fun or love, more money, more sex, more things (!) in order to feel pleasure. This is how we build addictions… needing more and more to feel a short-lived feeling of happiness.

Now, happiness is totally something else. It is not dependent on external factors, it comes from the inside, from an inner peace with oneself and the world around. As I was looking into this subject, I found a definition by Matthieu Ricard as follows: Happiness is a state of inner fulfillment, not the gratification of inexhaustible desires for outward things…genuine happiness may be influenced by circumstance, but it isn’t dependent on it. It actually gives us the inner resources to deal better with those circumstances. Happiness is often equated with a maximization of pleasure, and some imagine that true happiness would consist of an interrupted succession of pleasurable experiences….There is no reason to deprive ourselves of the enjoyment of a magnificent landscape, of swimming in the sea or of the scent of a rose, but we must understand that the experience of pleasure is dependent upon circumstance, on a specific location or moment in time. It is unstable by nature, and the sensation it evokes can soon become neutral or even unpleasant.

Here is a list of differences I found between pleasure and happiness:

Pleasure Happiness
The focus is on me.  The pleasure I get eating cake, enjoying comforts/luxuries etc The focus is on others.  The happiness I get is from giving others what they need or wish for.
Externally-derived.  Our pleasure arises when we come into contact with something outside ourselves. Internally-derived.  Our happiness comes from our own thoughts and feelings.
Short lived. Pleasurable experiences wear off quickly and deliver limited satisfaction when remembered later. Enduring.  Doing something meaningful for the happiness of others produces a feeling which still makes us happy when we recall it long after.
Subject to circumstances.  Even the most delicious cake will not deliver pleasure if a heated argument erupts while you’re eating! Not subject to circumstances. We feel happy if we’re able to help others even in awful conditions.
The more we experience it, the less it delivers.  The first slice of cake is great.  What about the second …. fifth … tenth?! The more we experience it, the more it delivers.  The feeling of satisfaction we get rescuing the tenth waterlogged bird in a storm may be even greater than the first one.

So this for me shed light this week on how to understand whether what I do is something that is durable for my own happiness or just a glimpse of pleasure, how to think of things a bit differently and nevertheless how to choose to do things that not just create me pleasure, but that leave me actually genuinely happy on the long run. I’ll test this thinking and see how it goes 🙂