Recently, I sent out a questionnaire about happiness and love to a number of people, and asked them to answer as honestly as they could. Over the last few weeks I’ve received many incredible responses.
Some of them I’ve already published.
The thing I’m most amazed about is the dialogue that has started since I distributed the questions. Some people responded saying that the questions were too hard to answer at the time because they were in a bad place. Others told me they didn’t even realize they were unhappy until they tried to answer the questions.
The only thought I had as I read the responses from people who were struggling: The Positive People Army is working.
They could’ve ignored the email, but they didn’t. They realized that they wanted (or needed) support and the Army was a great place to get it.
During the last week I have had many conversations about happiness and stress, love and hate, grief and gratitude. The whole spectrum of human emotion.
Positive People Army gives people an outlet for this kind of open expression. Good or bad, it can really help to talk about things.
Sometimes a single conversation can change a life. Sometimes it can start a movement.
Thank you to everyone for making this a reality!
Here are a few more of the amazing responses I’ve received.
What is happiness?
Robyn, 30 years old from Toronto wrote: Happiness is being able to continuously feel genuine gratitude for the things in life that bring you joy. This joy is different for everyone, but for me, it’s the mere fact that my parents are alive and healthy and I can call them every day and enjoy our conversation. It’s seeing my niece’s smile and hearing my nephew’s laugh. It’s knowing how blessed I am to have my sisters and brother as my best friends and greatest support system. It’s as simple as waking up each day, being optimistic about learning something new.
To keep this frame of mind, you must have tunnel focus on the positives. I do not place emphasis on the disappointments of life and do not mistake fleeting emotions as a permanent representation of who I am. I may feel sad one day or angry another, but I am not a sad or angry person. I choose not to live in that negative energy for a long period of time.
Bryan, 40 years old from Toronto wrote: I believe that true, real happiness comes from the inner contentment and satisfaction one gets from doing well by doing good.
That is to say, it’s only through spreading joy, helping others, making the world a more beautiful place, that any of us are able to find genuine, enduring and sustaining fulfillment in this harsh and trying world.
Simply put: Make someone smile and see your own smile grow greater.
My pinnacle of happiness is found when forces align to provide a mic, a band, an audience and freedom to flow. To achieve my bliss state through freestyle rapping, and to in turn, tailor my content and delivery towards an individual, so as to make them feel special, if even for a moment, is for me, the highest honor/reward scenario in life and truly, the key to defining and attaining HAPPINESS.
C.K. 30 years old from Toronto wrote: Happiness, Is knowing that you are able to follow your passion and dreams. That you are going through your days with a purpose and that it will eventually lead you to where you need to be. Happiness is knowing that you are loved, looked up to by those you care dearly for and that you are at a good place in your life right now. I think once you figure yourself out and where you want to be, happiness usually isn’t far behind.
Louise, 47 years old from Toronto wrote: To me, happiness is a chosen state of mind. It’s practicing gratitude daily. It’s choosing to recognize, and then appreciate, the little blessings that happen throughout each and every day. It’s not one major event (ie: a trip), but rather, a compilation of little ones (ie: a full-belly laugh). It’s not accumulating material things, but rather, I woke up today….
Are you happy? Why or why not?
Robyn, 30 years old from Toronto wrote: Yes, I feel the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been! I turned 30 this year and it feels like life has truly just begun! I was never one of those girls who dreaded entering this new decade; in fact, I looked forward to it and embraced it! Yes my career is not where I wish it was, my skin isn’t as flawless as I thought it would be, and I am definitely not married with the four children my younger self once envisioned. But I am so blessed in so many ways and that makes me happy. I have made mistakes and taken wrong turns, yet I have found a way to shift focus and that has helped me find inner peace. I sometimes think I’ve manipulated myself or “psyched” myself into these feelings but the truth is I haven’t. My mother is responsible for harvesting this great optimism in me, and my entire family. She’s magic, she truly is. She taught me how to create calm amongst chaos and how to always stay true to myself. She never once told me life would be easy, and it wasn’t, but what is easy – is acknowledging what truly brings me joy and focusing on that, makes me happy!
Bryan, 40 years old from Toronto wrote: Yes! Despite the constant challenges life presents us, and how easy it is to become overwhelmed and despondent at times, I remain steadfastly committed to my happiness and work diligently to remain so.
By constantly applying the notions above, I am able to keep my “tanks” fairly full and remain an overall happy soul.
Plus, I am surrounded by amazing people and an abundance of awesome, which helps A LOT!
C.K. 30 years old from Toronto wrote: I am happy, I feel positive thinking is a must each and every day. We all have tough days but just as long as you regroup and get back at it, having the right mindset is key.
Louise, 47 years old from Toronto wrote: Yes!
If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, what would you do differently?
Robyn, 30 years old from Toronto wrote: It’s so cliché to say “I have no regrets, as everything has made me who I am today”, but the truth is, it always looks greener on the other side and all you really know is what you have experienced. I wish I could go back and tell my childhood self that I didn’t have control over my parent’s arguments. I wish I could force my adolescent self to place my health as my number one priority. I wish I could magically appear in my twenties and avoid the shattered pieces of a broken heart when my boyfriend cheated. But in the grand scheme of things, one doesn’t gain strength from rainbows and butterflies; they only recognize their full potential when they have been ultimately tested. I have learnt so much from every situation and every problem I had to solve. I awakened a powerful force in me that had to be fueled by strong discomfort. I have always acknowledged my own pain. I never repressed it. My mother always taught me to allow myself to feel my feelings, and then allow myself to heal. I also learned to take full responsibility for my actions. If I don’t hold myself accountable, I can’t be in control of my life. If I blame my parents or ex boyfriends for the decisions I made and only focus on old bumps and bruises, I am unable to control my own healing and happiness. The past has happened, I am alive and breathing, and that means the present is all I can control. All in all, I truly believe life is what you make it and I choose to make it amazing!
Bryan, 40 years old from Toronto wrote: When I was 12, I learned about REGRET in a very hard and life changing way. What I learned was that I did NOT want to live a life filled with similar moments and more importantly, that life is fickle and that the best we can do is always seize the moment and live for the now.
As a result, I can honestly say I haven’t got any real needs for do overs. Well, maybe I might go back and actually kiss Julia Gallow by the lake that one summer I had the chance…
C.K. 30 years old from Toronto wrote: No, I think we are meant to be where we are. It all happens for a reason, to shape, to direct and to get us to where life wants us to be. There’s a plan for us and the things that we do, that others do to us, the fortunate and not so fortunate things is the lead up to the here and now.
Louise, 47 years old from Toronto wrote: I would have backpacked around Europe after college instead of getting a job right away. It’s never too late, although the hostel would now be replaced with a comfortable hotel room.
How would your friends describe you and why?
Robyn, 30 years old from Toronto wrote: I have saved every card I’ve ever received and it makes me smile to read the similarities of each person’s sentiments. First off, they all know that letting Hallmark do all the writing with their added signature is not going to cut it! Ha! I think it’s because I am an extremely reflective person who always expresses herself in great detail. I don’t have surface friends; I make deep connections and therefore love hard! I would do anything for my friends and constantly try to inspire and entertain them. I have spent many hours making cards, scrapbooks, writing poems or long letters to my loved ones. I invest a lot of time and energy into my relationships and it’s so rewarding to receive that same investment back! When reading their cards, they tend to talk about my positivity, optimism, thoughtfulness, zest for life, charisma, and quick witted nature. This questionnaire has been of a serious tone, but let me tell you, I eat clowns for breakfast every day! I am playful, I am silly and I always seize an opportunity to make others laugh. My friends would also note how honest I am. I always say filters are for water and my name isn’t Brita! But on a serious note, I am comfortable with asking uncomfortable questions and helping people step out of their comfort zones. It’s a defense mechanism for people to be guarded and closed off. But if you can try to break down those barriers and walls and get to the core of someone, it can lead to such an ever-lasting bond and friendship that you’ll appreciate each and every day!
Bryan, 40 years old from Toronto wrote: Lol, how would they actually describe me or how would I like to think they’d describe me?
I’ll split the difference here.
My friends would say I am: Smart, Funny, Talented, Creative, Thoughtful, Generous, Kind, Principled and Loyal, Honest and Supportive.
They would also say I am equally: Show Off, Know-it-All, Yappy, Annoying, Dramatic, Moody and Presumptuous, In-Your-Face and Over Bearing.
Luckily for me, I am blessed with GREAT friends who take me as I am, for all that I am.
C.K. 30 years old from Toronto wrote: I think they would describe me as a soft-spoken, well-mannered with a good sense of humor, fun loveable guy. (I hope lol)
I feel sometimes I wear my heart on my sleeves, my intentions are good and clear and I never mean anything bad to anyone, being more concerned for my family and myself.
Louise, 47 years old from Toronto wrote: Thoughtful, generous and laid-back.
What are you avoiding?
Robyn, 30 years old from Toronto wrote: Currently I am avoiding getting back into a gym routine. I’m an all-or-nothing type person who gives everything my 100 percent. I have always studied nutrition and a few years ago, I dug deep into research and made some pretty remarkable changes to my diet. It started with cutting out artificial sweeteners and refined sugars and then led to a total transformation. It has been well over a year of being dairy, gluten, refined sugar, wheat, processed food and caffeine free! I do however drink wine occasionally! I truly view food as medicine and I have never felt as energized and sharp. I get restorative sleep and haven’t been sick in years! I used to have severe Asthma and now I don’t even own a puffer! With that said, I know once I get back into the gym life, I will be dedicated and I am “avoiding” that new routine for now! I’ll get my ass in gear soon!
Bryan, 40 years old from Toronto wrote: This one’s easy. First and foremost, GROWING UP! And, by extension, “real” responsibility.
Although, I must admit, having recently turned 40, as well as having been married (to the most excellent woman for sure) combined with having a young nephew now, I am starting to find different and new rewards from life and am seeing that, ugh, real responsibility and growing up a bit are the ways to attaining these new goals. And its pretty cool, so, I’m growing and evolving and not avoiding as much.
C.K. 30 years old from Toronto wrote: Failure… I know a lot of people are counting on me and I never ever want to let them down.
Louise, 47 years old from Toronto wrote: Giving up starchy carbs, and answering this question lol
What is Love? How would you describe it?
Robyn, 30 years old from Toronto wrote: The quote “It is better to have loved and lost, then to have never loved at all” is my mantra! I have always believed that just because something ends, doesn’t mean it failed. Every relationship teaches you about how you love and how you want to be loved. There are so many forms of love. One may love their dog just as profoundly as I love my niece and nephews. One may love a partner so much but does not receive that same level of love in return. The love between siblings is different than the love of your parents or your child. What is most important and almost always put last, is the love one must have for his or her self. People claim to love themselves but in reality, struggle most with this relationship. I believe self-love is the hardest but most rewarding. Sometimes it’s easier to put music on, over-indulge in food or alcohol, or focus on any “noise” that can distract you from engaging with your thoughts and feelings. Having a positive inner dialogue is the first step to self-love. Once you begin viewing your body and mind as something sacred, I truly believe you start to naturally want to nourish it mentally, physically and spiritually. Love is truly my ultimate purpose in life. Love feels like magic. It drives you to be a better person, to give endlessly and unconditionally. To me, love is the reason I wake up every day and sleep peacefully at night. Love is the very fabric of my soul.
Bryan, 40 years old from Toronto wrote: Love is a diamond with infinite facets
Love’s understanding, both concrete and tacit
Love is a mother’s gaze ‘pon her child
Love is a hermit, alone in the wild
Love is a dog, whose tail wags for you
Love is your wife making your favorite stew
Love is the joy that we get back from giving
Love is the only good reason for living
Love is the soul, body and mind
All this and more, LOVE can’t be defined.
C.K. 30 years old from Toronto wrote: Love is everything! It’s such an important part of life and everything to do with life. There was a time where I stop believing in it but it was an unfair judgment on my end to feel that way because I was hurt before. But everyone has and to stop believing in it would just do more harm than good. Love paints that pictures we all want to see, the colours are a lot brighter and more vibrant. If you can find that perfect balance with it, then you’re set and everything else will eventually fall into place.
Louise, 47 years old from Toronto wrote: Hmm, good question. Love should start with oneself. Love is worth fighting for, but should also be easy.
If you would like to participate in this series, please send answers to the following questions.
City you live in?
What is happiness?
Are you happy?
If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, what would you do differently?
How would your friends describe you?
What are you avoiding?
What is Love? How would you describe it?
To read more Positive People Army posts, please check them out under the “All Posts” section in Menu link.