Courage in Happiness

It’s easy to be angry. Don’t agree with something or someone, get mad. Something doesn’t go your way, blow your top. Your lottery ticket did not win again, pound your steering wheel. Anger comes easy to us humans. In my past rant and rave moments, I realize now how easy it was to get spun up into one than it was to calm down after. It takes zero courage to be angry. It is easy in our society today. Talking heads on nearly every news station in the land seem to readily and eagerly provide us with a great many things to be angry at/with. Do you know what takes great courage?

To be happy.

Happiness takes great courage. More than ever, being happy and sharing that happiness is becoming increasingly a lost art. Walking through your local community, workplace, shopping center, school, or grocery store, how many people seem happy to you? It is almost an aberration to see someone smiling these days. I wonder why that is.

It is funny what triggers a memory. Sometimes it is a song. Other times, a smell. This memory is courtesy of Trivia Night at Robin Hills Farm in Chelsea. A musical lyric was given, and our team had to produce the name of the 80’s band who sang it. It took nearly all the afforded time, but the answer found me. That song then stuck in my head all weekend. I suppose it was a song that was popular in my youth (that I honestly have not heard or thought of since it was at its height of popularity) that started triggering memories. One of them was floating around begging to be remembered but it kept escaping me. It took listening to an Audible book in my car for it to finally show itself. The memory was from my childhood Sunday school. I remember the lesson about how it isn’t what goes in that matters, but what comes out. What does this have to do with courage and happiness, you may ask?

Sadly, more and more people seem to be looking to find things wrong than right. Anger is the flavor of the month. It is all around us. It is impossible to go a day without encountering it. It is infiltrating us constantly. That is what is going in. Courage is to not let it come out. Courage is effort. Courage is hard. Courage can make us appear weak or soft in the face of anger and aggression. Courage is, in a word, respect. Respect to leave the landscape we encounter happier than where we left it. At worst by not perpetuating the negativity and at best leaving some happiness in its place. How can we do that? How can we change our outputs?

Change our inputs.

I find myself increasingly choosing to find things that contain a more positive and thought-provoking message. Books I am downloading on Audible, checking out at the local library, videos I watch on YouTube, to the shows we watch on TV. If I am able to reduce my negative inputs by just a few percentage points, it can become easier to change my outputs and deposit kindness, leaving more happiness in my wake. I still need to know what is going on in the world, I have just changed where I get my news from and how often I check in with it. I have chosen the most negative YouTuber I follow and chosen to unfollow them. That way, if I do want to watch one of their videos, I must find it. It is not popping up on my screen in the form of a notification. I substitute one fiction book for a more positive download on Audible. I still listen to fiction, and I love a good novel, but after two or three in a row, I find something that will feed my brain with a little more positivity. It has not been a complete 180-degree turn. I am doing it slowly. Purposefully. Changing the inputs is hard. Changing the outputs is courageous. If we really choose to advocate for more joy in this world, to be beacons of happy light, it must start inside of us, dear friends. Everyday, I strive to be more courageous. Who is with me?

Steve is a Dexter resident and the Owner, Chief Courageous Officer, Vice President of Joy Advocacy and Book Devourer at Better Place Consulting, a career and success coaching organization. Reach out to him at if you have suggestions or tips on how to be more courageous.

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