We have all heard the phrase, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” especially Godfather trilogy fans. There may be contexts in which that practice is justified, but it’s really a stupid concept. Instead, show the highest level of gratitude for those closest to you and take action to make them happier each day.
A major life principle is that happiness is a moral imperative. What does that mean? It means that every person has a moral responsibility, first to him or herself, then to everyone else to pursue happiness and to “act” happily. That’s the Founding principle of America. Almost reflexively, we undeniably practice this virtue every single day without even thinking about it. We may have truly pleasant conversations in line at the grocery checkout, small talk with co-workers, a telephone conversation with the receptionist at the dental office and so on. In short, most of us are publicly nice people to those in close proximity. Now take a few seconds to think about this familiar picture. You have a disagreement with your significant other with some raised voices or accusatory comments. Then, a cellphone rings. Your beloved answers the call, then warmly erupts into “Oh, hi. How are you doing? I am soooo glad you called.” What a major and immediate change! Acting happy is easy. We just have to want to do it.
There is a bigger lesson in the example however—the dichotomy of our actions. Too often we gush with happiness to acquaintances or even strangers, but constantly unload our aches & pains, troubles, traffic issues and petty annoyances on those closest to us. The path to happiness starts from within and expands outward. By this pathway, happiness exuding outward should logically first impact those closest to us and then reach others as it spreads. Both are moral and both are good. But, one is far better and we must acknowledge its importance. “Fake it ’til you make it” may be the appropriate phrase when dealing with strangers. Keeping those closest to us happy is a far better theme for life.