Happiness – It’s Easier Than You Think

Happiness and Joy in NatureWould you like to experience happiness that lasts?  We all would, wouldn’t we?

Well, the fact is that happiness is an emotion.  Since all emotions are energy in motion (check out how emotion is spelled: e-motion), one experience of emotion, by its nature, will not last forever.   Don’t let this get you discouraged.  It is easy, let me repeat – easy, to create happiness.  It is, with some practice, not only possible, but quite realistic to live a life filled with happiness regardless of whether you are wealthy or not, male or female, or in any particular situation. 

Some researchers believe that people’s behavior and the choices that we make are ultimately driven by the desire for more pleasure or to avoid pain.  Though there are always exceptions, when someone endures pain (to protect someone, have a medical treatment, etc) or delays pleasure (studying instead of partying, investing in a retirement account, etc), even here it is usually to achieve an ultimate goal or reward that brings us pleasure or less pain.  So, in other words, we are hard-wired to be driven to create happiness in our lives.  Our bodies literally set us up to be successful at happiness.

1.     How to Be Happy

Psychologists at the University of Edinburgh have studied happiness and determined that 50% of whether or not we tend to be happy is genetic.   The good news is that this means that a full 50% is within our control.  That’s a tremendous advantage.

So, how do we successfully use that 50% that’s in our control?  There are many ways, but here are just a few good ones.Happiness starts with the choice to be happy. 

This is perhaps the most important choice you can ever make.  Most people don’t even consider that happiness is a choice, but it is.  We’ve all seen two people in identical situations have opposite reactions to it.  What causes one person to get depressed or angry and another person to be joyfully happy?  Why does one person see a situation as a catastrophe and another sees it as just a challenging learning experience.  The answer is that it is a choice.  It is how we choose to frame the situation in our minds.  We can either be victims to our environment and our emotions or we can be in our own power knowing that we have or can get the resources we need to get through any challenge.  When you are in your power, even the tough times can breed happiness as you see yourself grow to meet any challenge.

 2.    Spend Time in Gratitude Each Day.

Gratitude journals have become very popular in the last few years.  Why?  Because when you practice paying attention to what is good in your life, your happiness increases dramatically.  How does this work?  Your brain is like a computer.  You give it a program, and it carries it out.  In this case, the intention is to find what is good in your life and what you are thankful for every day so you can write it down.  This activates the reticular activating system (RAS) in your brain, and it carries out its assignment to look for the good.  When you actually notice the good on a regular basis, you can’t help but feel happier.  On the other hand, if you don’t set this intention and wake up thinking “today is going to be a bad day,” your RAS does its job to look for all the reasons why today will be bad.  Which do you want?  Happiness or sadness?

 3.    Have Little Victories Every Day.

Accomplishing your goals fosters happiness as well, especially if the goals are meaningful to you.  So, it is valuable to not only set long term goals that matter, but smaller objectives that are attainable so that you can celebrate little victories every day.  By taking small step after small step, you ultimately reach your larger goal. 

I once had a teacher who believed so profoundly that you need to celebrate every day and that all goals should be phrased in a way that you would always succeed that he told me to set the goal of breathing every day so that I would always have something in which to celebrate and be grateful.

So what will it be?  Will you celebrate happiness with me?  It truly is your choice.