Penelope’s Secret to Happiness

The secret to happiness for many of us these days is simply staying away from the news! The slightest side long glance at the current political landscape will give you plenty of  insight into what makes us unhappy. Happiness, on the other hand, can be a little more elusive. While science has been trying to find the root cause of happiness for some time now, it is still a comparatively young field.

However, it has become known (even to science) that our relationships to those around us (whether in the room or on Facebook) greatly influence how we feel about ourselves. Have a lot of happy friends? It is likely that some of that happiness will rub off on you. Sadly the opposite is also true. Grumpy, sad, hateful breeds grumpy, sad, hateful.

Like any good moose worth her pink fur, Penelope chooses the happy friends route. She recently found inspiration for happiness online in two surprising places: the New York Times and GQ Magazine.

Carl Richards wrote a week ago in the NYT about permission. One of the things that prevents us from doing what we have always wanted to do is permission. We seek validation to fulfill our dreams; we want permission to write that book, learn how to play the violin, or suddenly pick up and move to New Zealand (which is what Carl Richards just gave himself permission to do). In the short (and fun) article, Carl proclaims himself  “the president of permission granting, “and hereby grants you permission to live your dreams.” Here is the whole article:

Huge life changes at the flip of a coin, that’s fine and dandy you might say; Penelope did. What if you make the wrong choice? What if you blow it? What if you are chasing the wrong dream?

Well, ‘what if?’ is the thief of joy. Which brings us to GQ Magazine. (Penelope likes to keep up on what the gentlemen are thinking.) In an article entitled “Never Miss an Opportunity to Totally Screw Up,” Steven Tyler grants us permission to make mistakes. Wait? What? Steven Tyler?! It’s true. Rock and Roll’s Steven Tyler, frontman for Aerosmith, is giving out happiness advice. He advocates learning from rather than ignoring our mistakes. He also declares that, “Mistakes will be made, if you’re lucky…Even when it means really messing up, be grateful for everything that went wrong. If you went back in time, if you were to change the worst thing that ever happened—the worst thing—you wouldn’t be who you are today.” (

Penelope is no Pollyanna, she knows that making such a shift in your behavior or your perception in not a simple task. This brings us back to Carl in the NYT who suggests:

“This week, take one major change you’re wanting to make and figure out if the only thing stopping you is waiting for permission. Be brutally honest with yourself. Force yourself to identify what’s standing between you and making that change. And if you find that it’s permission you’re searching for — then look no further.”

Tyler tells us to make mistakes. Put together these two disparate sources (Carl Richards and Steven Tyler) and you will begin to understand Penelope’s secret to happiness. Give yourself permission to be yourself (mistakes and all); give yourself permission to enjoy being yourself. Chances are good, you’ll become one of those happy people whose attitude is infectious.