What a world, am I right, if everyone was having their worst day possible, that is. However, we do live in a world where this is a very real possibility. Probable? Well, most likely not everyone. But someone, that’s for sure, if not more than just someone.
You see, a bad day can change the demeanor of a person. In fact, a bad day can make someone seem mean, annoying, or completely incorrigible. But what if that person believes themselves to be none of those things? What if that person is you? Chances are it has been, at one point or another.
I think of myself as a generally happy person. I’m sure you do too. To an extent, we all view ourselves through rose-colored glasses and believe that we’re fun to be around. Self-deprecation aside, it’s easy to see our demeanor through an Instagram filter, highlighting our best moments and trashing the photos that don’t support our narrative.
But, as you’re squirming in your chair, you know that you’re not happy all the time, and neither are the people you interact with. It’s human nature. The volatility of our emotions is what separate us from lower form animals. This means, however, that although we may think of ourselves as happy, and positive, and outwardly agreeable, other people may perceive us differently, and vice versa.
Perception is reality. While this statement is true, what it really means is that how other people perceive you is their reality. Conversely, your perception of a person dictates your interpretation of their actions the label you give them. So, while you may ignore this fact, the world is judging your character on the basis of your outward demeanor.
How unfair! We’re happy people, but we’re also human, and we’ll have our fair share of bad days. Unfortunately, if you’re having a bad day, and you outwardly display negativity, chances are that the people you meet will think of you as a negative person. Think about it: if you run into someone who is short-tempered, snarky, and cold, you’ll immediately consider them a person with a bad attitude. But what if, like you, they were just having a bad day? What if their baseline demeanor is one of happiness and positivity, only you happened to catch them in a bad moment?
There’s a prevailing double standard where we as individuals have our bad days and believe that people should be accommodating and think of us as positive. However, when we meet someone who’s angry, downtrodden, or sad, we’re quick to label them as negative and even quicker to judge them based on their actions.
Given that our emotions ebb and flow like the business cycle, it’s unfair to make a snap judgment on a person based on a single interaction. What's safe, then, is to always give the benefit of the doubt and assume that no matter the demeanor, everyone’s having one of their worst days imaginable.
When you start to think this way, you become sympathetic to negativity and impressed by outward displays of happiness. You then reward the positivity and help to heal the bad, making the world a better place.
Herein lies the power, because it goes both ways. By assuming that people are always having a bad day, especially when they’re being negative, you’re able to change your personal perception of them from one of negativity to one of happiness. Rather than complaining to your friends about the overbearing driver you encountered on your commute or the boss who snapped at you, you effectively force your perception to be one of understanding.
Happiness is a choice, and it’s your choice as to how you perceive the actions of others. Always assume people are naturally happy, and any sadness or anger is due to a bad day. Conversely, happiness is a choice, and it’s up to you to display outward signs of positivity. A person’s perception may be their reality, and personal perception is ultimately up to the individual, but you can directly influence a person’s perception of you by your actions.
Having a bad day? Great! Happiness is still a choice. You may be dying inside, and it’s more than ok to be honest with the people you trust, but when you step outside your house and into the hustle and bustle of life, be positive. Having the worst day ever? Amazing! The quicker you force yourself to show signs of happiness the quicker the prophecy self-fulfills. Soon, you will be happy.
As James Allen points out, “a person’s character is the complete sum of his or her thoughts,” so you better start thinking positive, and you can do so by faking it until you make it.
Happiness is a choice on both sides of the ball. Make a conscious decision to perceive others as positive, and even when you’re having a bad day, know that people are judging you, and give them what they want. Act happy.
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