The Art of Being Cheerful

The art of being happy

The cultivation of an  optimistic, cheerful outlook on life is not just a superficial veneer.  It is of the very nature of victorious living. It takes us very close to the heart of things, and gives us a glimpse of man as he is intended to be.

If we look back over our own experience, we know that the real experience,  that  the really  memorable and satisfying experiences are those in which our spirits have been exalted in success, or enjoyment, or useful service. Happiness is the way you are, not the way things are!


Cheerfulness can transform our personalities, make us pleased with ourselves and pleasing to others. The person at whom we smile, smiles back. In one sense he smiles at us. In a deeper sense his smile reports the sudden well being  we have enabled him to experience. He smiles because our smile has made him feel smile – deserving. We have, so to speak, picked him out of a crowd. We have differentiated him and given him individual status.

We talk about meeting circumstances, and facing circumstances, but there is a very real sense in which we have it within our power to change circumstances – certainly the power to change their effect and influence. There is a kind of alchemy about cheerfulness that seems to affect our own personalities, the lives of those with whom we come  into contact,  and even our environment and circumstances.

This power is a faculty which can be cultivated and developed. Let us examine some of the practical factors involved:


1. Remember that action can regulate feeling:

William James wrote: “Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together. And by regulating the action which is under more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not”.

If our spontaneous cheerfulness is lost, we should sit up cheerfully and act and speak as if cheerfulness were already there. If such conduct does not make you feel cheerful, nothing else on that occasion can. This is a simple but powerful secret of producing a real and deep spirit of cheerfulness.


2. Collect material for cheerfulness:

Make an inventory of all your joys. When feeling depressed it is useful to sit down with paper and pencil and make a list of all the things that you should be grateful for at that moment. Don’t just think about it.  Do it! The  chances are the paper will not  be  long  enough for the purpose. The process of association of ideas, once you are started,  will  produce an incredibly long list of things for which you should genuinely and sincerely say “Thank you!”

This kind of exercise leads towards an attitude of gladness, gratitude and a cheerful spirit.


3. Use  unlikely circumstances to produce cheerfulness:

It is possible to wrest cheerfulness out of the most unpromising  circumstances. This is a real challenge. When the picture  seems completely black,  resolve to find something in it which is redeemable. The optimist does this all the time.

Cheerfulness can also issue out of adverse situations in which human relationships are involved. Take , for example, the necessity of criticism or rebuke. There are some people who seem able to do this only in a way which exacerbates ill – feeling. Yet, even rebukes can be administered in a way which in includes hope renewed opportunities the prospect of learning from mistakes and so on.

The situation then becomes one of looking forward with confidence and cheerful anticipation of better things, instead of recrimination.


4. Practice a certain  restraint in cheerfulness:

There are times when cheerfulness needs to be held in control. This does not mean to inhibit it, but rather to control the degree to which it is expressed. Some people are so heartily happy, that their cheerfulness becomes a bit of burden at the receiving end.

What we really need is a kind of inner cheerfulness, into which we can dip without any great fuss, but which gives  the impression of inexhaustible resources. Still available at any moment.

This art of letting cheerfulness bubble to the surface rather than pour out in a torrent is one of the real secrets of the attractiveness of a truly cheerful personality. The quietly optimistic attitude, the genuine smile the gladly confident word which encourages and assures,  these are the marks  of the truly cheerful spirit.    


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here