4 Ways To Get Happy…Now

May 24th, 2019

I’m embarrassed to admit how much I recently misjudged a situation.

I was walking down the sidewalk on a sunny Thursday afternoon feeling a little envious of the woman ahead of me blocking the path with her dog and baby stroller. Well, woman with a perfect life and happy baby, I thought. You win.

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Then I got closer and noticed her stroller was empty … and super small … with a dog bone sitting in the seat. Wait, that’s just a doggie stroller? I thought. Now I was feeling a little annoyed. But as I walked past her, I heard her talking about her dog to another dog-owner. “He’s fifteen,” she said, “and he can’t walk anymore or see very well,” she said. “But he loves being out for fresh air.”

Suddenly, I felt like a jerk for the ten seconds I’d spent wildly misjudging her — especially as I turned to see her lift her pup’s nerve-damaged body back into the stroller with gentle care and kindness.

Of course that’s not the only time I’ve misjudged a situation. But I don’t think I’m entirely alone. Life is so full of interactions with others, we can’t help but get annoyed every now and then. We sigh at the guy with oversized, overstuffed carry-on bags holding up the line at airport security, or we groan at the woman who decides rush hour is the best time to return a lip balm to CVS.

Our judgment is natural. Studies in the 90’s refer to this as the “jumping-to-conclusions bias“ that even with little evidence of a full situation, we like to form conclusions for the sake of our own closure. It feels good to know what the story is. Or to think we do. It’s the golden rule of public life, right? They’re usually wrong and we’re usually right, and wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone was just as awesome as us?

Well, maybe — just maaaaaaaybe — there’s another side to it. Maybe we can see our next situation from a more positive perspective that allows us the greatest opportunity to forgive, accept, and be gracious with others.

The next time you’re put off by the behavior of a stranger, here are four ways to step back from the bias and see it from the bright side:

1. Imagine what’s behind their behavior.
Think outside the box on this one. Maybe the guy with oversized bags at the airport was just laid off and is heading home to move back in with his parents — his pride and dresser stuffed into his duffle bags. Maybe the woman who elbows past you on the sidewalk is rushing to see her mom at the hospital. Or maybe someone’s just having a really bad, terrible, awful day and is taking it out on the rest of us. Here’s the thing: We cannot know all that’s going on in someone else’s life. And sometimes imagining the wild reasons behind their behavior is just the thing to help us forgive it.

2. Remember … we’ve all been that someone.
Let’s be honest: We’ve all once nudged our car into the right lane when we discover at the last minute that it’s our exit. We’ve all once stepped out of turn at the counter because we didn’t know someone else was waiting. And as much as we want to roll our eyes at the four friends at brunch who are texting instead of talking to each other? Well, most of us have been those people, too. It happens. We all have our sidewalk-blocking, loud-talking, in-a-rush moments. Remember that when you want to come down on someone else for theirs.

3. Let them pass.
You have two options: You can curse at the woman tailgating you for the next twenty minutes or you can pull over, let her pass, and enjoy the rest of your drive. I know, I know, “it’s the principle of the thing.” But would you really rather stubbornly withstand something awful on principle or step back and enjoy yourself? Give in sometimes. If someone’s talking in the movie theater, move over. If someone’s elbowing you on the subway, move back. Yes, then they “win.” But really, the fact that you don’t have to see it, deal with it or be bothered by it a single second longer means you win, too.

4. Be grateful you’re not in their shoes.
What if they’re rushing to the doctor because they’re sick? Be glad you’re healthy. What if they’re mad late for a meeting? Be glad you’re on time. And what if they’re just being arrogant, self-indulgent jerks? Well, be glad you’re a good person and let it inspire you to be more generous today with every new someone you see.

We’re all in this busy life thing together, remember. And while it’s normal to get annoyed every now and then, it’s also our choice to look at others through a better, brighter lens. Let’s be generous and offer the people around us more benefit than doubt. Because whether they know it or not, the more we do that, the happier we’ll be.

This post was originally published in HuffPost. Read the original version here: How to Be Happy: 4 Ways to Get There Now.

For more bright angles on bummer situations, check out my book Bright Side Up and the book website brightsideup.com.

Are You Carrying Around An Old Piece of Guilt Candy?

April 14th, 2015

Have you ever cleaned out your purse or messenger bag or carry-on luggage and found a little piece of old candy you forgot about?

Maybe it was a cellophane-wrapped sugar candy or a lollipop. Maybe it was a broken piece of holiday Candy Cane, or a piece of gum sitting so long on the bottom, the sugary goo had bled through the paper itself. It makes you wonder: Why didn’t I just eat this and get it out of the way when I took it? Why have I been carrying around this yucky little thing for so long without even realizing it?

Well, I think we all do the same thing with our emotional experiences, too. Sometimes, we experience something that makes us feel so embarrassed or guilty or full of shame, that we hold onto it like an old butterscotch.

We carry that guilt like candy left to sit and get sticky in our emotional brains, collecting dust bunnies from the corners of our heart for no good reason at all. I call that “guilt candy” and it’s time we cleaned out our emotional pocketbooks of them once and for all.

Sometimes, we experience something that makes us feel so embarrassed or guilty or full of shame, that we hold onto it like an old butterscotch.

Let me explain by telling you about the old piece of guilt candy I’ve carried around too long.

When I was a kid, I went to visit the offices of Newsday with my Dad, Ken Spencer, who worked as a feature photographer for the paper for over three decades. On our tour through the building, I was shown  the newsroom, the paper machines and I got to meet some of the writers. The real actual newspaper writers! It was one of the most exciting and memorable days of my childhood. Yet there is one conversation I’ll never forget—for a strange reason.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 11.26.22 AMOne writer was showing me his desk and his computer (very likely a Commodore Vic 20 at the time). And, oh, I was in absolute awe as he showed me how he typed up his stories on his computer. I couldn’t believe my eyes when he showed me how he pulled down the “Print” screen. And how, with one press of a button, his story would be sent to the printer. With just a few seconds pause, the writer walked us across the room, twenty desks away, and up to the printer. “And here,” he said, pulling his article from the printer , “is the story we just printed.”

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“That’s it?” I said, in awe that with just one tiny press of the “Return” button, those words on his screen were being somehow sent fifty paces across the room. Just one button! 

“That’s it?” said the writer. “Gosh, what does it take to impress you?”

He was joking and laughing as he said it, and I was too confused by his laughter to get what he found so funny. But a few minutes later it finally hit me what he meant. That when I said “That’s it” I meant “One press of a button?! That’s all it took to get it here?!” But when I said “That’s it” he thought I meant, “Really, that’s all ya got?”

I was so young and shy and didn’t want to correct him that I let him joke and then carried on with the tour. And I spent the rest of the day feeling bad that he misunderstood me. Actually, it wasn’t just the rest of the day.  I have carried that small, silly misunderstanding with me for thirty years. For thirty years, I have wished I could tell him that wasn’t what I meant, that he misunderstood, that I was blown away!

It has stuck with me in the strangest way, being misunderstood and mistaken for being ungrateful. But you know what’s funny? I’ll bet that if I was able to mention this to him today, he’d probably say, “I took you on a tour of what?” I couldn’t be more sure he has no recollection of it at all.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Carry around little old pieces of guilt candy that the other people in our lives haven’t even registered as a blip on the radar?

Check in with yourself and clear out your own old pieces of guilt candy. Trust me, it feels good to get it out and take the first step in letting it go.

—Amy

 

Excuse Me, I Think You Dropped This

April 14th, 2015

My friend Matt Christensen is really funny. And sweet. And creative. Which is why he started a little project called Excuse Me, I Think You Dropped This.

See, Matt doesn’t have the best “game” when it comes to flirting with girls he likes. But what he does have are some not-actually-that-bad drawing skills. So every time he saw a girl he thought was pretty, instead of getting up the nerve to talk to them, he got a pen and drew them a picture. On notebook paper, on napkins, whatever he had handy. Then he’d tap the girl he liked on the shoulder and say, “Excuse me, I think you dropped this…” and see what happened.

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Bert and Ernie from: IThinkYouDroppedThis.tumblr.com

Over the years, Matt has handed out notes from Grand Central station in New York to bars in Downtown Cleveland. And he’s noted what’s come of each and every approach with the girls.

Unluckily for him, not much has ever come from this pickup trick. But luckily for us, he snapped photos of his funny drawings before he handed them off, which he’s been posting on his Excuse Me, I Think You Dropped This Tumblr.

And while it may not have earned him any dates to date, every time I see a new note he posts, it makes me smile. He’s an optimist of the sweetest kind, who is presenting a true picture (literally) of who he really is. I think you’ll get a kick out of it if you check it out, too.

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Bird and Pop Tart from: IThinkYouDroppedThis.tumblr.com

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Koala with a scarf from: IThinkYouDroppedThis.tumblr.com

Matt: Good luck. Girls who may potentially get one of these: He’s a great guy! My readers and friends: Enjoy it all in the meantime: ithinkyoudroppedthis.tumblr.com

Big love & happy living,

Amy

Give Yourself a Happy Love Gift

February 11th, 2015

Seeing as this is the big love month, I wanted to share this fun news: I’ve updated my iPhone app Half-Orange Optimisms and in addition to making sure it works on all the iOS platforms and the newest iPhones, I’ve added a whopping 150 *brand new* thoughts to it. Which means the app now has more than 250 positive ideas to happy up your love life. Can you take it? I can barely take it.

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Wait, do you know about this app yet? When it first launched along with my book Meeting Your Half-Orange, the iTunes store put it on the Hot List and it was recommended by The Daily News. You can find out more about the Half-Orange Optimisms app on the iTunes store. If you already have the app, be sure to update it to Version 2.0! And if you don’t have it, check it out. Because these are all original words of mine, and I wrote every single positive idea with happy love in mind. Here’s the gist:

Description

Do you sometimes feel discouraged with dating and love? If you could use a pep talk every now and then about yourself and your dating life, Half-Orange Optimisms is here.

 Your “half-orange” (the translation of the Spanish term mi media naranja) describes your sweetheart and perfect other half. And the path to yours can be paved using dating optimism. Use them as a companion piece to the book Meeting Your Half-Orange: An Upbeat Guide to Using Dating Optimism to Find Your Perfect Match by Amy Spencer, or just dive into dating optimism on your own!

OptimismsSquareThese are not reprints of quotes or lines you’ve read before. Half-Orange Optimisms are freshly original tips and insights that provide the dating optimism you want on demand! Like a Magic Eight Ball of love wisdom, they’re the words of dating and life encouragement you need to hear at the time you need to hear them. 

Just ask for some sweet orange guidance, then shake the phone for the dose you need to turn on your positivity and draw the right person straight to you. And when an Optimism really hits home, email it to yourself or a good friend for an added boost.



FEATURES:
• Over 250 original, unique Optimisms written by Amy Spencer.
• Get a new Optimism every time you shake.
• Optimisms are more than just inspiring quotes—they provide actionable suggestions and ideas for improving your relationship point of view.
• A bright animated 3D orange delivers your message.
• Email your favorite Optimisms to yourself or a friend. Or save one to paste in your Notes app, a post or a tweet! (Note: There is not a Saved Favorites page within the app.)
• Optimisms are for all singles—women and men, single or divorced, of every age. If you are seeking your other half or just want reminders to make the most of a love you have, these words are for you.

Your thoughts about dating can change your love life forever. Let Half-Orange Optimisms help you put your thoughts in a positive state of mind. Visit amyspencer.com to contact Amy and learn more about this app, as well as the books and the optimism that goes with it.

What’s New in Version 2.0

Big fixes and updates with this one! Cleaned out all the bugs and freshened it up, so it’s now working perfectly and up to date for all iOS and iPhones from the 4 on. Plus: I’ve added a whopping 150 *brand new* Optimisms in this version, so the app now offers more than 250 fresh, inspiring thoughts to enhance your gorgeous life even more.

Big love,

Amy Signature 4

The Beauty of Loving

December 31st, 2014

I wanted to share something that warmed my heart.

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Twin Soul Poets, Hamilton and Ingrid, performing their poem “Loving”

I got an email from a gorgeous soul named Ingrid who said she read Meeting Your Half-Orange when she was in a difficult place emotionally and it shifted how she felt about herself and her dating future. As Ingrid put it:

“I had what I considered a breakthrough and an epiphany: ‘The man I’m waiting for already exists, he isn’t going to appear when I meet him. He’s already here, living his life. I don’t need to crane my neck looking for him at a bar or the grocery store. When it’s the right time for us to meet, he’ll show up!'” He did show up. And now the pair are making beautiful poetry together, literally. Ingrid and Hamilton call themselves the “Twin Soul Poets.” And here they are performing their moving poem Loving.

You never know where a partner will appear. You don’t know what he or she will look like, how they’ll sound, what they’ll say. But if you know how you want it to feel when you meet, you will draw your other half — your half-orange, your own twin soul — closer every day.

I hope this inspires you the way it did me. And I wish you all LOVING like this in your Beautiful New Year.

Big love,

Amy Signature 4