The Keys to a Happier Life

Geek!This is Ron Knights’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

I’d like to begin this essay by saying that I’m not currently an expert on the issue, nor am I a classic example of success. But I have achieved the goal at times, and plan to be there again.

Life is so much better if you keep things Positive. You’re happy to face another New Day. The World is good, as is everyone and everything in it. Face each person with a smile – be sure to show them in small ways that they are recognized. Hold open a door, smile, let them get by you in the store aisles.

I’m a shy guy, and have been going through a rough time the past few years. I’ve watched the end of my marriage, lost my last job, gained too much weight, and struggled with depression. I tend to isolate myself. I force myself to get out at least once a month to do my grocery shopping. And I’ve joined a Health Club in order to lose weight.

I was pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the Planet Fitness staff. I didn’t feel so ashamed over my body size. I made sure to let them know how much I appreciate their enthusiasm and friendliness. Their responses made me feel even better.

Yesterday, I did my monthly grocery shopping. I was exhausted and somewhat depressed. I was tempted just to hang my head low, and slink around Wal-mart. Instead, I decided to be friendly and courteous. I was very pleased by all their smiles. They looked at me like I was a regular person, rather than the negative way I often envision myself.

Back in the 1980s, I was going through a similar experience with depression. I started working out in my living room, and included my beloved dog in the fun. Within a few short weeks, I added weights to my workout routine, and needed still more physical challenge. So I joined a local health club. Within 30 days I had undergone a dramatic transformation that surprised everyone including myself.

I kept up my routine for a year or two, ’til I allowed myself to get side-tracked, and gained all the weight.

Never give up. Back in 1968, I headed off to college, full of fantastic dreams and ideals. I wasn’t ready for the challenges of academic life. I flunked out by the end of the year. Within a few months, I was faced with the draft, and feared that I’d be sent to the war in Vietnam. I joined the National Guard. I slipped into a deep depression, got involved in dangerous activities that threatened my safety.

After a couple years, my dad finally talked me into applying to a local Technical College. I was accepted, and excelled as a student, editor or the Student Newspaper, etc.

Never be afraid to re-examine yourself. There were times in my life when I had apparently realized my dreams. But I felt incredibly depressed, and often damaged my own position within the very community that I prized. I wasn’t willing to take a good hard look at myself, or listen to others who tried to help me out. There were other times, in other situations when I wasn’t afraid tore-examine myself, or listen to others, and it helped tremendously.

Be assertive. When you’re assertive, you’re willing to tell others how you feel, but in a positive, and productive way. You deal with disagreements in a calm manner… You’re always sure to let others know you value their opinion.

Validate people. This one is a bit difficult for me. I’m so shy, I don’t often look people in the face. I don’t always remember people’s names… my memory has been flaky in recent years. One of your most powerful tools is validation. Let other people know they’re important. Express appreciation for any courtesies or services they provide. Look at them and smile. Remember their names, and use them. Watch them smile, and return the favor.

You don’t need to go overboard. You can smile & say “Thanks.” Don’t worry if you don’t remember names… use that as part of your charm or humor. I’ve had long-standing “work relationships” with people for years. We’ve chatted about their experiences, families, etc. I never remembered most of their names. I was never afraid to remind them of my lousy memory. I’d make jokes like “I’m having a Senior Moment.”

I take a cab to Wal-mart every month to do my grocery shopping, and for some leisure excursions. I like to use the same cab company every time because the cab drivers have been very friendly. Last month, I called the cab company, and the cab driver immediately said my name. I was so surprised. I made it a point to ask his name, and did my best to remember it. It was easy because his first name is Matt. I just remembered Marshal Dillon, from the old Gunsmoke TV series.

Right now, I’m doing my best to remember all these tools, and “Life’s Lessons,” and dig myself out of depression. I’m doing my best to be happier and healthier.

That journey has led me to YouTube and Geeks.

I’m working on ideas for a whole new series of videos, blog posts, activities that will reflect my new Hopeful Outlook on life. Winning this contest would be another tool to help achieve my goal. In addition, to helping spread the Good News, I’d look for ways to Spread the Wealth by passing on some of the prizes.

I’d very much appreciate your support and comments.