Happiness seems to be something I blog about reasonably frequently. I don't really know why - it seems to be something I have plenty of, at the moment. Today I wandered around in the world by public transport, and encountered someone who evidently wasn't. I came home, and when I went onto Facebook, I immotalised her with the status line:
To the sourpuss on the bus this morning, bitchin' about any'n'everything: in the three hours before I met you, I had given two people a deep belly-laugh, made four people smile, and paid one person a compliment that made them fairly glow. What had you done in the same three hours to make the world a happier place to live in?
She complained about the bus being seven minutes late. She complained about the fact that the driver needed to load up a new roll of paper into the ticket machine. She complained about the fact that the only seats left were facing sideways (which gives her more leg-room!). She complained about "the young people today". She complained about how long oldies take to sit down, delaying the bus. She complained about a very young mum with two babies in a stroller. She complained when one of them grizzled. And those were just a few of her complaints, the ones that spring to mind now, several hours later. She just never shut up.
The people sitting nearest her leaned away from her, and one of them eventually got up and moved away. People's faces fell. When she singled out one or another person to address directly, they answered in monosyllables, and kept looking away from her at the time. She spoke to the driver, and although polite, he handled it the same way. She didn't single me out - I was sitting just a little too far away.
When she clambered off the bus, there was an almost-audible sigh of relief run through the bus, and the energy was more relaxed and clearer. At the very next stop, another woman got out, wearing a wonderful wristwatch with a red, black and gold band with a motif of spirals. I loved it, and I complimented her on how good it looked.
She had been getting off the bus with a neutral expression, but she dismounted instead with a broad smile, and the smile lasted for some time - until at least the bus pulled away. Her day may (or may not) have become grim later, but due to my noticing something I really liked and mentioning it, her mood was lifted for a long moment, and I felt good that what I had said to her gave her such evident pleasure. It lifted both our days.
You can have a day of unrelieved misery - and with an unpleasantly painful injury, I'm certainly entitled to, at the moment. The complainer certainly was having a day of unrelieved misery, and she wasn't above making sure everyone around her knew it. Me, I looked to a point of pleasure in the day that I could easily have ignored - a stranger's watch - and it gave both me and that stranger a moment of real, heartfelt, deep pleasure. It may not have changed the course of either of our lives or made my injury feel any better, but it certainly helped both of us get through that part of the day in a better mood.
What's wrong with smiling? With compliments? With having a laugh with strangers? Who amongst us has such an excess of joy that we can afford to turn our back on it and ignore it?