But as I mentioned earlier, though upon first viewing the film seemed plotless and pointless, I kept thinking about the character's capacity for happiness until I decided to try for myself adopting an exclusively optimistic outlook on life. Looking on the bright side all the time. Always accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative.
Not that I wasn't already fairly adept at putting on a happy face as needed - as most of us are - we all need to from time to time, right?
But I really honed my skill at forcing a cheerful disposition back about 20 years ago when I used to work as a substitute music teacher at my children's elementary school.
I hated music subbing. I hated getting that phone call at 6 am then having to jump out of bed and rush around, roam through the sweats and jeans in my closet searching for something teacher-acceptable to wear, put on hose and real shoes, fix my hair, hustle the kids together and out the door earlier than usual.
But mostly I hated having to be teacher for a day. Of course I knew how to teach piano students one on one, but I didn't have a teaching degree and though I like children individually I truly hadn't the foggiest idea what to do with a class room full of them.
So why did I sub for years if I hated it so much?
It wasn't for the money. The truth is, I kept subbing because they kept asking me to and I would have felt guilty not helping out my children's school.
It might not even have been so bad if the music teachers ever left lessons plans that I could make any sense out of. But they almost never did. (One time a teacher called me the night before to sub for her and told me she was teaching a unit on Gregorian Chant and that all the materials were on her desk. When I arrived in her classroom the next day there was a three-inch text book on Gregorian Chant sitting on her desk. That was all. That was a fun day. Not!).
So anyway, I'd always be standing at the front of the music class room at 7:45 AM waiting with a heart full of anxious dread for the first group of children to arrive.
However.. I got into the habit of beginning every class by pulling up the biggest honking smile I could fit across my face and telling the students how glad I was to be there, how good it was to see them again, how happy I was when I got the phone call this morning that I'd be subbing, how excited I was to have a reason to get dressed up, how much I enjoyed teaching them.
Though the students didn't realize it, my welcome speech to them was my pep-talk to myself, and saying it helped me believe it a little, or at least act as if I believed it. Anyway, my little faux-happy speech always made me feel better. And friendlier. And I think it made the kids feel well-disposed towards me. Which made for a better day for us all.
But those substitute teaching days of long ago were just occasional 6-hour forays into intentional happiness.
It wasn't until I saw "Happy-Go-Lucky" that I decided to make the effort to be a full-time happy person.
I don't remember how long I kept up the effort - it was back in 2008, so it's been a while - but as I recall, thinking more optimistically did help me feel more optimistic about life in general. at least for a while.
But then again, making myself be happy all the time took effort and concentration and eventually I slacked off. Actually I think I was only able to keep it up solid for a couple of days. I think I just have a hard time focusing on anything for extended periods.
But now I'm thinking maybe I should have tried a little harder for a little longer because I just read this comment of Romaine's on Wednesday's post:
"From my classes I've read about how neurons re-wire through repetition - and that "fake it till you make it" can actually help your neurons re-wire to the point where you don't have to fake it any more."
Which backs up something our pastor Kai Nilsen once said during a sermon: "You become what you habitually do."
I definitely have to back and watch that movie again.