Being a “Happiness Coach”: my vow of poverty

Over the weekend I accompanied a friend to a funeral. The crying and lamenting began during the wake, only intensifying as the departed lady’s coffin was lowered into the ground.

As I told my friend later, I hope my own “bon voyage” will be much more like a party or the traditional post-funeral parades they have in New Orleans.

Even without music, there should be plenty of laughter and singing. I’d be disappointed if someone doesn’t mention my weirdness, before they plant my ashes around the seed of a tree and wish me luck on my newest and grandest adventure.

Here’s how weird I am: since before I could walk or talk, my priority has been helping people smile. When I was nine months old, everyone who entered the room got a happy wave until I saw the smile and greeting I was looking for.

So please don’t ruin my last chance to do that when you say farewell, by crying!

This personality quirk has made me pretty popular. Until my 50s it was easy to find work, possibly because employers found my bright and outgoing manner pleasant.

And being naturally friendly made it much easier to discover the world without studying a local culture or language (I’m recording personal adventure stories for my grandson on a YouTube channel called “Stay Happy Samuel” as we speak).

Achieving a certain kind of success has always been quick and easy. The only measure of success I care about is improving somebody’s day.

My career and regular income haven’t done as well, though. People seem to enjoy the better mood I put them into, but rarely try to help me be more successful.

Everyone else in my family has achieved the stability and material success I can only dream of. Meanwhile I’m the weird adventurer, living by his wits and grateful for every smile.

Couldn’t have done anything differently if I’d tried.

The Joy of Losing

Life is often about losing, and feeling unhappy when it happens.

We lose people we care about, and our home or possessions.

(I never hear from many people I’ve loved the most; and all the pictures, clothes, letters, books that once seemed to define me have disappeared)

We lose arguments or discussions. Our precious status at work or in the family too. Our expectations and dreams–big sources of disappointment!

(I try to persuade people to work with me, yet conversations eventually turn into word games or ego trips that go nowhere, accomplish nothing, or alienate acquaintances I thought would help me make it big)

We waste valuable time and money on optimistic plans that disappear without a trace, and find ourselves in dead ends with no apparent way out.

(Social media. ‘Nuff said)

But guess what? That’s good news. The more we lose, the closer we’re getting to the kind of joy all those things were supposed to bring us.

Life is a journey. Like any journey, it’s most fun with minimal baggage–emotional, physical or mental.

We’ve spent most of our time acquiring or getting attached to “baggage.” So we’ll gain the most happiness by dealing with its loss in a positive way.

(Being cheerful and generous in defeat, resourceful when things go screwy, and philosophical when everyone around us is losing it)

All that baggage can make us feel important and permanent. But the kind of happiness that hangs around forever … comes from traveling as light as possible.

Take it from a lifelong road bum: the less baggage you have to wrestle with, the more you can enjoy the beauty and fulfillment in the world we’re lucky enough to be part of.

And in the last moments of life, the realization that we’re about to lose everything will be front and center.

The more graceful and buoyant we are about our loss and pain, the happier we’ll be when it matters the most.

So practice being a graceful loser today. Celebrate what you’re really accomplishing … by losing.