I want to let you in on a little secret: Happy people aren’t happy by birth — they’re happy by choice. Being happy is something they choose each and every day, and they know that there’s no set definition of happiness.
“Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” —Abraham Lincoln
Fundamentally happy people don’t allow themselves to be held hostage by their circumstances and they don’t seek happiness from people or things. These fortunate people realize that once you stop pursuing the world’s ideal of “happiness,” the key to a life of satisfaction has been right in their grasp all along: — and that is choice.
Just knowing that happiness is an active choice isn’t enough however. While it’s the fundamental step, being truly happy does require a conscious choice to be so each day. Knowing this, we can finally reach that place in which we can honestly say “I’m happy!”
These 10 pointers to help you to better choose happiness are a good starting point. These recommendations can be taken as daily actions, or, as a way to inspire you to come up with your own personal strategy for choosing happiness:
1. Wake up on your own terms. Most people are hard-wired to wake up when they need to — to get to work, get the kids off to school, etc. Basically, we wake based upon the needs and expectations of others. While this may not change, what can change is when and how we wake-up. Try getting up a bit earlier than you need to and have a positive morning routine — go for a jog, listen to uplifting music, mediate or pray, sit in the garden with your morning coffee. Whatever it is that you need, make time for it. Prep your day by being in control of your morning and doing/experiencing things that you need.
2. Plan out your day. Waking up the right way is important, but so is having a plan for your day. We can’t always control the flow of our day, particularly with work or kids, but getting a head start on it is a choice that does foster happiness. If you have a work project, write out your “to do’s” and if you have other commitments, put them in your calendar. Organization can greatly reduce stress and that in-and-of-itself encourages happiness.
3. Be grateful and count your blessings. Happy people make the conscious choice to be grateful, because it helps them focus on the positive. They set their mind on specific things in their life that are a blessing and they choose to be thankful every day. Mornings are a superb time to count your blessings, but you can do it anytime you want — the intention is to orient your psyche to the good and positive.
“Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won’t have to hunt for happiness.” – William E. Gladstone
4. Practice personal growth. There is much happiness and satisfaction found in personal growth. When we take a positive step forward in our lives, we have a sense of fulfillment and this sense of accomplishments re-charges our energy. Make the choice to grow personally by trying to accomplish something each day — this can be as simple as going to the gym to improve your health, taking a class, volunteering to help others or learning a new skill. Find the things that stimulate you and make a point of choosing to grow as a human being.
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” – Albert Zweiter
5. Think before you speak. Happy people have high emotional intelligence and they choose their words carefully. A co-worker or friend may irk you and you might want to lash out at them, but don’t. Be conscious of what you’re feeling and thinking and just as important, why — then before you speak, think about what affect your words may have not only on the other person, but on yourself as well. Is it worth it? By diffusing a negative situation, you’re more likely to experience joy by choosing peace over conflict.
“You are in charge of how you react to the people and events in your life. You can either give negativity power over your life or you can choose happiness instead.” – Anais Nin
6. Treat others as you want to be treated. Being kind can come naturally, but it also helps to consciously choose kindness. Treat people with kindness and courtesy as often as you can; consider their feelings and they’re likely to consider yours. Peace and harmony are absolute musts for genuine happiness.
“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” – Mark Twain
7. Infuse happiness throughout your day. Positive affirmations are meant to re-enforce positive thoughts and they are known stress relievers. You can try these, google them or, come up with your own. Whichever ones work best for you, just make sure you choose them with thought and that you believe them.
“It is a fact that negative thought will attract negative thought, and positive thought will attract positive thought.” ― Norman Vincent Peale
8. Pray or meditate. Our world continues to get more manic and frenzied. Finding some alone time in a quiet place is essential — whether you carve out that time and space to just unwind, or to pray or meditate, the choice is yours. Happy people tend to pray/meditate more often than most and that’s because it helps them to get in touch with their spiritual side, which is a proven positive contributor to happiness.
“A day without prayer is a day without blessing, and a life without prayer is a life without power.” – Edwin Harvey
9. Focus on your physical and mental health. Eat better and get more exercise. Consult with your Doctor on the right diet and exercise regime for you and then make the choice to stick to it. Happy people choose a healthy body, which helps to create a healthy mind and a positive outlook on life.
10. Wear a smile. A smile has power in it! It tells people you’re happy and it has a positive healing effect on the mind — look happy, act happy, feel happy and before you know it, that smile is beaming on your face naturally.
“Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.”– H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Happiness is an active choice. We can search for happiness our entire lives and never seem to find it. That’s because it was in our grasp all along — we just had to choose it.
“Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is.” – Mandy Hal
“Keep choosing happiness daily and happiness will keep choosing you back.” – Fawn Weaver