by Susan Wenger
Have you ever done something that would make someone else happy, and as you did it, even before the other person knew about it, you felt a frisson of shared pleasure? Just anticipating the other person’s happiness made you happy. Happiness is neat that way. It works the same way as creative ideas, or a-HAs! Contemporary philosopher Chris Barlow says that an a-HA isn’t a true a-HA until it is shared with another who also thinks a-HA! Happiness is true happiness when it is shared with another.
I’ve noticed that when I decide that I am going to scratch my dog’s tummy, even before I move toward him he starts to wag his tail, somehow knowing that he’s going to get himself tickled. He senses my intention. He enjoys his expectation of enjoyment, and I do also. My intention to scratch his tummy makes me happy, even before I do it, and it makes him happy also. I like to give him little pleasures; they give me pleasure. I like to think of the little pleasure of a happiness intention as a happiness tic: a tiny little spasm of happiness at the idea of giving and receiving impending happiness. When you give someone else happiness, knowingly or unknowingly you keep a carbon copy of the happiness for yourself.
Do you journal or recite your good experiences? If you share your happy experiences with another person, or write them down in a journal or diary to share with your future self, you multiply your happiness. You were pleased when something good happened, whether it was finding a dollar on the street or seeing a duck fly overhead, or whatever pleases you, and when you tell someone else about it, you re-live that pleasure, and solidify it in your life experiences. You re-experience the tic of happiness when you tell it again. You also receive a tic of happiness when someone else tells you what made her happy, whether it was waking up to a bird call or hearing a favorite old song on the radio. Someone else’s happiness becomes your happiness without in any way diminishing her own happiness. If you tick your happinesses every day into a recitation or a journal, you not only re-live them, you also reinforce within yourself the act of being happy. You notice and pay attention to your happinesses throughout the day with the expectation of telling someone about them. You are more receptive to happiness tics when you do this. Because you are more attentive to your happinesses, you develop the pattern of awareness and receptiveness to happiness, and you enjoy your happiness more, anticipating the added pleasure of sharing them and writing about it and telling about it. As you become more receptive to happiness tics, you receive more of them, every day. If you tick off your tics, you’ll get more of them.
These simple techniques, of getting happiness tics when you do something nice for someone else, and ticking off your happinesses into memory or recount, are your tickets (tix!) to greater happiness for yourself and for everyone around you, every day, for the rest of your life.
What could be easier?! What are you waiting for? Tick. Tic. Tick.
Susan Wenger offers an encore presentation of her (justifiably) popular session Happiness! at Mindcamp 2013.