C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Top 10 How to be happy (oddly, this will infuriate people it’s meant to help)

This is probably the sort of topic where, if you get it, you don’t need it. If you don’t see it, you probably never will. (Then why blog about it? Because I don’t see any windmills! Now gimme that lance! Let’s go tilting!)

Change can happen though.

A bureaucracy, that shall remain nameless, gave off a lot of bad hoodoo. They’re infamous for holding the people they serve in contempt. The way they related to people led, in part, to the installation of bulletproof glass in their place of business. (I’m not kidding.)

Recently, they responded to the wails from those who paid their salaries. The video they sent out stopped short of an apology, but they did acknowledge they needed to set a new tone. They promised to work on changing their corporate culture.

I was one of their most strident critics. If they’re sincere, I’m surprised how willing I am to forgive and forget. The changes I see so far are free and subtle. I dealt with them again recently and a few pleases and thank yous was all it took to ease my wariness. It seemed, in the span of a few short paragraphs, that they weren’t trying to make me feel like a dirtbag. Refreshing.

Which brings us to blogging and relating to people.

I’ve found myself skipping past the blog titles that say, “Here are X number of reasons your blog sucks.” Maybe there’s good information in there, but I’m an author with an Irish family on one flank and teenagers closing in on the other. I’ve got enough negativity in my life. I already have a dim view of the world and I enjoy it in fiction. Less so, when someone harangues me.

I attended a webinar that made me sad.

The guy was knowledgeable, but the way he communicates needs to soften. The louder he talked, the less we heard. He then confessed that a big business opportunity fell through because of “conflicting styles and interpersonal stuff.”

I think I know the problem. It was the abrasive guy. “Go-getter” and “jerk” don’t have to be synonymous. The adage is not that you get more flies with corpses.

Which brings us to Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com.

My friend, supporter and sounding board, Kit’s a graphic artist who is a great resource for any publisher. He works with all of us, big and small. But that’s the least of why you should do business with him.

He knew I was feeling down the other day. He took the time to write a kind note that hit me at just the right time. Clearly, if you’re an author or publisher, this is the sort of person with whom you want to work. He does great work and his portfolio is impressive. You’ll get great covers and he’s not done until you’re happy. Work with Kit Foster and you’ll sell more books.

But many people can deliver book covers at a reasonable price, right?

Sure, I guess. But how many will bother to send you an email that makes you feel better when you’re down?

For a lot of people, anytime they see you’re down is when they start kicking.

How can we make more people like Kit?

1. Go back in time and get nicer parents, smoke helpful medicines or be Scottish, I suppose. I’m not sure what makes Kit the way he is.

2. Some medical schools use actors to teach doctors what compassion looks like so they can fake it. I don’t know if that sticks. I’ve often said the only thing I learned from Survivor was that jerks and psychotics can’t fake being nice for a month, even for a million dollars.

3. We can practice random acts of kindness and see if that elevates our mood. Happier people are nicer people. This doesn’t apply to people who get happy for the wrong reasons. If you’re one of those psychos, seek professional help before the rest of us rise up and throttle you.

4. We can practice gratitude (I guess I’m doing that now.) It sounds kind of hippie, but there’s science that shows the more thankful you are for what you already have, the happier you will be.

5. If you can’t manage these suggestions, professional scuba diving limits your ability to damage the rest of us, so take one for the team and go scream at fish. 

6. Use Kit’s services at KitFosterDesign.com. Maybe exposure helps by osmosis.

7. If you’re angry at somebody, make sure you know why you’re really angry.

Here’s how you’ll know you’re angry or sad about something else besides the target of your ire: You should have a range of emotional responses. If you review a book with the same level of vitriol that should be reserved for skinning live puppies? You’re Monty Burns and you have a problem, no matter how catchy the tune you sing about making fur coats.


8. If you’re already happy, spread it like fertilizer. Maybe it will grow. A bookstore employee told me she didn’t aim for happy. She aimed for contentment. Ironically, that suggestion made me happier.

9. Exercise. Meds to treat depression and disorder. Talk therapy. Total gene and personality transplant or personal tragedy that leads to an unlikely transformation. I don’t recommend leaving the problem so long that the solution is that last option.

10. Take Joe Rogan’s suggestion and pretend a documentary film crew is following you around, recording the lost time, outbursts and ill temper. Do that for one day and you might decide it’s time to change all your other days.

When you look up to find you’re surrounded by happy, creative, productive people and you don’t resent them for it?

You’ll know then you’re on the right track.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. I am not happy all the time. I am working on improvement. Check out my books and podcasts at AllThatChazz.com.

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5 Responses

  1. Dane Zeller says:

    Mr. Chute, every time I start to thank someone, I remember how they pissed me off. Would it be okay if I just gave them a thumbs up?

  2. MishaBurnett says:

    I think contentment is a value that is nearly lost today. People want to be happy all the time, and think that they should be happy all the time, and that’s just not practical. I have seen a lot of people make themselves miserable chasing after happiness.

    It’s a good thing to be happy, true, but it’s a transitory state, it comes and goes, and trying to manage your life on the basis of what makes you happy is like navigating your ship by a lantern hung from the bow.

    Contentment, however, is a more realistic goal, because contentment comes from accepting life as it is, enjoying the happiness and enduring the sorrow. I don’t believe that contentment is a passive virtue, however, I think it involves working to make your life the best that you can, and then accepting the best that you have to give yourself with gratitude.

    • Chazz says:

      Depends on the path of each individual’s pursuit of happiness, I guess. Walter White pursued happiness and many fictional people died. Vince Gilligan pursued happiness in creating Walter White and we’re all happy. (Though I was surprised his death scene SPOILER ALERT did not include SPOILER ALERT him ever, and finally, SPOILER ALERT sampling his own blue ice.)

      The Buddha said the root of unhappiness is desire, but desiring to eliminate desire isn’t attainable for most and sounds circular. Many people think of happiness as a selfish pursuit, but perhaps that’s because so many direct their energies inward too much. The happiest people I know are facilitators, they aren’t hypercritical and, most of all, they look for opportunities to bring joy to others. The saddest people I know feel entitled to happiness but seem to lack the capacity to bring, or even allow, joy for anyone else.

      And then there’s the genetic component. But since I can’t control that variable, I’ll work with the variables I do control. Contentment sounds good, but I don’t think it’s for me. I don’t think I’d enjoy the drive I have if contentment was my goal. I prefer the spikes of happiness and their contrasting valleys since it’s about the journey. We all have one common, final destination and that’s when I’ll catch up on my rest.

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