Happiness is a choice.
Most of us have heard that saying before. But it tends to go in one ear and out the other because we are generally left without solid tips on how to make that choice.
That ends right now.
Happiness is a choice – not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you. -Ralph Marston
Here are some ways in which you can start choosing happiness today.
first up! think happy thoughts
Try the opposite of “fake it til you make it”.
That idea and statement just doesn’t ring true in most situations and circumstances. And, yet, it continues to be the go-to phrase for when someone is starting something new or is continuing something they don’t like.
Being “fake” won’t get you to the happiness you want.
For the person starting something new, trust. It won’t add to your confidence in your ability to do this new thing.
It only masks your inability and makes you feel more and more unable.
Because guess what. You aren’t being genuine at the level you’re on.
You’re a true beginner, but you’re less likely to ask for help and less likely to actually learn the skills needed to be successful because you’re out here faking.
So, y’all. It’s a much better idea to be genuine from start to finish.
There’s a study that was done which shows that when you’re at work, or somewhere you’d much rather not be, simply faking a smile actually changes your mood for the worst.
I think of it almost as a grimace. You don’t want to smile, but feel like you should or have to, so you plaster something like a smile across your face.
And it makes you feel more trapped, more unhappy with where you are.
But it was found (in the study) that changing your thinking is what makes you happier.
So, think positive thoughts, or happy thoughts if you will.
If you need some more guidance when it comes to making the choice and commitment to yourself to be happy, sign up to get the free Happiness Agreement pledge.
It’s been researched a ton, and results have shown time and time again that having an attitude of gratitude can increase your overall happiness.
Personal storytime: I tried out the practice of daily gratitude for myself in December of 2019.
I decided that for the entire month of December, I was going to challenge myself to notice the things I was grateful for (because it is very much an activity of “noticing”.)
And I chose to track my experiences with posts on Instagram.
Now, the Instagram part I could have done without, in retrospect. The further I went into the challenge, the more distracting posting on IG became.
So, I think maybe I’ll use another medium next time; just keep it personal. (Not everyone needs to know everything. But that’s another post for another day.)
The point is this: on just the 8th day of the challenge, I felt a deep sense of gain.
It was like I was waking up to another day full of potential to notice what I could be grateful for.
On that particular day, I was overcome with positive emotions about what I had, what I had been blessed with. I broke down several times, thanking God for my life, for my sons, for my current position.
And where I am right now is very far from where I want to be.
But when I take a look at where I really am, seeking to find things I can give thanks for, the only thoughts I have come from a full heart instead of the lack.
Choose to be happy by noticing in every moment what you DO have instead of what you don’t.
dfine happiness for yourself +make THAT your goal
You can make, like, general “happiness” a goal all day. “This year, I want to be happy.”
But what does that really mean if you haven’t defined it for yourself? Or if you don’t know what gives you meaning in the world? Or who is really here for you??
It’s absolutely necessary to define what happiness looks like for you.
For example, your happiness can come from getting your nails done every two weeks, going to church, and taking daily walks.
Or it could be spending time with friends at least once a week, meditation, and work!
And it doesn’t have to be static or fixed. You change a little bit every day, so it would make a lot of sense for the things that made you happy last year to maybe not give you the same satisfaction this year.
(Please notice the use of the word “things” and not commitments. Keeping commitments to people add to happiness, generally. Working through trials to make it to the other side can bring immense satisfaction. But I digress.)
Choose to be happy by taking the time out to really figure out what brings you the most happiness, and pursue.
focus on the positive
Take note of the tiny moments that bring happiness, and let them linger.
Ding ding ding! This is mindfulness.
It’s truly a marvel to consider how busy we make ourselves.
Sure, we can blame culture and society today.
And it’s true that most workplaces reward workaholism. They might preach work/life balance. But it’s almost natural nowadays to put the busy worker on a pedestal.
Busy is the keyword.
Just because you’re running from meeting to meeting, checking emails constantly, working on a million projects, and sitting on all of the committees doesn’t make you productive.
Yeah, you’re busy alright. But, for what?
And to what end?
The conclusion of the story is burnout. It’s a bodily illness. It’s a mental illness. It’s less time laughing and enjoying. More stress and tension.
So, just a stop. Stop it right now.
Release the expectations you’ve placed on yourself. Let go of the expectations of everybody else.
The world won’t end if you don’t check your email every other minute.
It won’t end if you opt-out of that two-hour long meeting.
MAKE more time to simply have time. To be. To taste your food. To feel the breeze run through your fingers.
Take more time to be present with your family.
Sure they get on your nerves. But you like em, too, sometimes. Stay as long as you can in the moments you like em.
Choose happiness. Do more with less.
finally, create happier stories
You can choose happiness by creating more positive stories in your mind.
For example, you’re out to dinner, and you notice a lady in the corner throwing glances your table’s way. What’s your first subconscious thought?
Is it, “wtf is this woman looking at? What is her problem?!” or is it more like, “I wonder what she could be looking at.”
It’s kinda like giving the situation the benefit of the doubt.
Instead of creating the story in your mind that she has an issue and becoming annoyed at the fact that she’s looking your way, try curiosity on for size.
Try picturing positive outcomes instead of just sticking with the automatic (and probably more negative) ones.
If this is a habit of yours, choose happiness by trying this tip out in the very next situation that comes up where you have no idea about the motives of someone else. Try to give them a positive motive, replacing that initial thought.
He didn’t cut you off on purpose, he just didn’t see you in his blind spot. The outcome: you don’t get upset and yell at a car, and at someone who has no idea what’s happening.
She didn’t ignore you. She was actually so deep in the thoughts in her own head, your voice simply didn’t register. The outcome is you don’t yell at her in anger and start an unnecessary fight.
You control the stories you create about the world.
And you can change ’em.
Try it, and watch what happens to your mood as a result.
Making the choice to be happy, has everything to do with changing your automatic brain and mindset.
Choosing happiness is a daily practice of altering negative thoughts, noticing the good, being grateful for what you have, and constantly chasing your goal of happiness.
Always be happy,