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I Like Licorice Jellybeans

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jellybeansItem #1 in my Happiness Manifesto is Choose Happiness, and I was reminded of one of the best methods yesterday. There was a post at The Happiness Project that mentioned re-framing a situation – simply deciding to change your mind about something you dislike. Like choosing to see your traffic-filled commute as a chance to catch up on your audiobook, or enjoying vacuuming because you can sing along shamelessly with your iPod as you go. And it reminded me of my love for licorice jellybeans.

My grandmother kept a house stocked with all sorts of sweets. Cakes under glass, piles of brownies, crystal jars glistening with rainbow sugar drops. My little brother even referred to Mama as the “Candy Mom.” And I remember realizing one day as we dumped the jellybean jar and split them all evenly, there was always a pile of black ones left over. And none of the others minded if I added those to my pile. No demand for black licorice = plenty of supply.

Here’s the catch: I didn’t like black jellybeans. But I decided that it was such a good deal that I would learn to like them. And now, oddly enough, they’re my favorite. Somehow I went from not liking them to actually getting the most pleasure from them. So whenever I find myself grousing about things that aren’t really that bad (misery is quite relative), I try to imagine the circumstances that would make this – waiting in line or pumping gas or another meeting – one of my favorite moments. And even if that seems far-fetched, I usually find I’m not quite as grumpy about it as I was. Try it sometime. You’ll be amazed at how easily you can fool yourself.

Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true. –Demosthenes

Use this to your advantage.

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2 responses »

  1. “This above all – to thine own self be true” – words of wisdom from a long-dead Englishman. What is the value of happiness if it comes at the cost of self-deception? I firmly believe in open-mindedness, empathy, and the ability to shift one’s own perceptions. That said, I think the challenge to finding (or approaching) real happiness is to remain true to your own personal ethos.

    One more, from some guy named John:
    “‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’ – that is all/
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

  2. Gotta agree with Brendan on this one. Although happiness is a joy, its not a constant right. It’s just another pole on the spectrum. We can’t reject sadness and suffering. So what that meetings suck! Hate them! Loathe them! and then grab a beer after and tell your friends how nice the end of the day is. :) I’m sure its the existentialist in me (ah, sigh), but sometimes theres a little joy (and necessity, above all!) in not liking something. As paradoxical as it might sound…

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