How do you react to happy moments? Do you clap your hands? Stomp your feet?  Shout “hooray!”?

Growing up in small-town Ontario, with one television, and fewer than 10 channels (and before the word “streaming” took on today’s meaning), we often had no choice but to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs play if my dad got to the TV first on a Saturday night.  The theme to Hockey Night in Canada was my first lullaby – it conjures up the warmest of memories.  My dad had grown up in Toronto and was a passionate, die-hard, blue-blooded Leafs fan.  When his beloved team scored a goal, he would leap up from his reclining chair with a grin, slap the footrest, and shout “Ho HO!!”.  Every single time they scored.  It was an exclamation of pure joy.  You could be anywhere in the house, hear one of those “ho HO”s, and know that the Leafs were on their way to victory.  Alas, there haven’t been a sufficient number of “ho HO”s since 1967 (if you know, you know), but that’s not the point of this story.

When I experience joy, I often slap my knee, especially if I’m laughing out loud.   But how do I respond when something relatively insignificant goes my way – like nabbing a great parking spot in front of the pharmacy? It’s in those small flashes of time where happiness exists and accumulates.  An abundance of happy moments can add up to a good day.  If you have enough good days, you have yourself a happy life.

Of course, not every day will start out as a good day.  How we perceive small moments can often tip the scale.  I can choose to celebrate the conveniently located parking spot.  I can think to myself “woohoo, look at that!”, and smile at my good fortune.  Sometimes, identifying a win will ensure it ends up on the happy moment side of the scale and boost our mood.  When we’re in an elevated state of positivity, the annoying instances won’t bother us as much.  Inside the store, the long line-up for the pharmacist might be more tolerable when paired with my excellent parking spot feat.

The trick is to be conscious of little wins which often go unnoticed.  When I am intentionally aware of smiles from strangers, roses that beg to be sniffed, parking spots that materialize, sharing a laugh with a friend, hearing a favourite tune playing on the radio, finding a dime in my pocket, (the list is endless!), and focus on seeking out moments of beauty, humour, and luck, I find more happy moments.

The opposite can also be true.  If we concentrate on looking for irritating, frustrating, or depressing signs to reinforce our terrible day or week or year, we will find them.  We need to decide what we want to notice and hold onto.  Ask yourself – can an unpleasant moment be re-framed or put in perspective, thereby allowing you to let it go?

One way I ensure that the positive feelings outweigh the negative, is to deliberately react in the moment to the little burst of something funny or beautiful.  It may mean mentally noting that I have just experienced something worthy of a smile, or a simple recognition of it’s value.  Never underestimate the power of crawling into fresh sheets at the end of the day. That’s worth a “ho HO!” from me.