2016: The Year of the Happy Train!

Happy Train. Sear it into your mind. Happy Train. It’s an awesome expression. Happy Train. It’s a way of life. Happy Train. It makes a statement. Happy Train. It’s easy to remember. Happy Train. And people resonate with it – or not – immediately. From children to adults to the elderly, everybody knows if they’re on the Happy Train or not. It’s so basic and fundamental that nobody can argue with it. We will talk more about this in a minute, but first… Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train!!!

Okay, here we go… A friend of mine has a family that’s very negative. They aren’t bad people or anything; they’re just negative. And they’re a product of their environment to some degree like we all are, and I don’t know their circumstances. So we aren’t blaming anyone or anything like that. The fact is, though, that they’re really negative. And they’ve been that way for a very long time. And she doesn’t do negative anymore.

My friend loves them very deeply, and she’s tried to love them in this negative state. After more than a couple of decades of this, though, she realized that it just wasn’t working. The data was in, and it was time for another plan. Anything but this is worth a try. So about a year ago, she made the difficult decision to not participate in the negativity anymore. Done. Zero, zippo, zilch. It just wasn’t helping anyone. She had to save herself at this point, so she retired. And what she realized was that she was actually loving them even more by practicing what some would call “tough love.” So what exactly did she do? She told them that from then on, she was on the Happy Train! And she was serious about it.

She said something like, “I love you, but no more negativity. I’m on the Happy Train, and I’m on it forever. You can hop on it or not; that’s your choice. You are totally free to do as you please. If you don’t, though, then I’ll have to choose to love you from a distance. But there will ALWAYS be a seat for you on the Happy Train, right next to mine. Always, that is a promise. I love you, I’ll always love you, and I hope you’ll join me.”

Wow! Isn’t that awesome? Who can argue with that? If someone’s being a real downer, always focusing on what is wrong, and you gently and lovingly remind them that you’re on the Happy Train, what can they say? It calls out their BS just like that, but it’s ingenious because it does it in such a way that they’re not being attacked. So they don’t have to get defensive. You’re not saying that they’re doing anything wrong. In fact, you’re not saying anything about them at all. You’re simply pointing out what you are up to. “Hey, I’m on the Happy Train. If that’s not cool with you then I’m happy to come back later. All good.”

And they feel it right away – whether or not they’re on it, that is. This is so basic that everybody feels it, right away. And again, it has nothing to do with calling people out for doing something right or wrong; it’s just that if you’ve made this decision then you might have to remind people from time to time. Old habits can die hard. It might take some practice. You might say (in a VERY disarming yet firm voice), “Hey, I’m just reminding you that I’m on the Happy Train. Let’s be as happy as we can. And we can totally talk about whatever it is that we need to talk about. But let’s be as happy as we can while we do it.”

You can see from this that we aren’t ignoring anything that’s important or frustrating or sad. We’re just ditching these old, unconscious patterns that bring everyone down. It’s fine to have disagreements or to discuss serious topics; that’s totally normal! But let’s do it consciously. Let’s try to actually get somewhere instead of having the same arguments and bitch sessions. Let’s do it without all the resentments, fears, and insecurities. Let’s just try to be as happy as we can while we focus on whatever it is we have to focus on. And when we’re being a total downer, let’s own it and say that’s not how I want to live anymore. I’m working on that, and thanks for the help.

So if you have some negative people in your life and you’ve been wanting to change the old, tired dynamic but haven’t known exactly how to do it without crushing them, then maybe the Happy Train is your answer. Give it a shot! Take it for a ride. Maybe this is just the way to finally get through. And they might not be ready to join you. But you understand that they’ve been a robot in their negative patterns, and it might take some time. Like peeling layers of an onion. Just be gentle yet firm, stating very chill and matter-of-factly, “Hey, I’m on the Happy Train.” And always remind them that you still love them and are there for them: “And there will always be a seat for you, right next to mine.” You can remind them that there’s nothing wrong with them: “Hey, you’re free to ride whatever train you want. It’s your choice.” And you might even help them to feel more comfortable: “Hey, I haven’t always been on the Happy Train. I’m still figuring it out as best I can. It’s a lot nicer than the old way, though. Why not join me?” You might also feel called to acknowledge their pattern: “I know you’ve been on a different train for a long time. It’s not your fault. But it’s not etched in stone, either. You always have a choice. It just takes practice.” And then you can just kill them with kindness and enthusiasm (I know, what a terrible expression): “Come on, join me! Let’s ride! Do it!!”

And you’re smiling while you’re saying this. You’re not even taking seriously the negative version of them, that negative character they’ve been pretending to be for so long. Not even one bit. See if this can melt them a bit over time. Be gentle and yet firm. And happy. Over time, the dripping water wears down the rock, so you never know what kind of profound shifts a person might make at any time. Just be sure to be genuine. You are doing this for the good of all. The ego can easily turn it into a right-wrong thing, a way of putting someone else down. That’s not what we’re talking about, though. And you know that…

Also if you’re burning a bit while reading this, then maybe you’ve been super negative. Well, you know what? Who cares! IT’S NOT ETCHED IN STONE. IT’S JUST A PATTERN. Wow, what good news. And trust me, I ride on all kinds of different trains, and I’m practicing and growing just like you. This is a pretty simple distinction to make, though. At any point in time, are you on the Happy Train or not? And if not, just practice getting on it. Right then and there. So if you’ve been pretty negative, and deep down inside you’re tired of it, then you can say all of the above things to yourself. And make yourself a note if that’ll help, because remembering can be the hardest part. Just write Happy Train down and have it by your bed, in your car, etc. Breathe it in. Just gently practice, and every now and then take note of the results. Is your life different in any way? You got this! So here’s to a new year, 2016, and the Happy Train. And as always, let me know if I can help!