Choose to be happy

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Being happy or joyful is a choice.

That’s good news, because it means happiness is within our control.

More good news – Happiness is a buildable skill set.

(One note: I’m not talking about people who suffer from depression here. However, even people who are diagnosed with mental illness can still build skills for well-being. More on that in the future.)

We’ve been looking at the book The Seven Decisions by Andy Andrews.  I love this quote from the book:

The Joyful Decision, when fully understood, becomes a powerful catalyst for change in your life. Happiness is a choice. This Decision can liberate your spirit with the infinite joy available in each moment of every day.

A lot of us have had the joy conditioned out of us by our habits and our culture.

We can make the choice to condition ourselves for happiness by choosing to do so and by practicing.

Here are a few ideas from the book that we can practice in order to be happier:

Happy Triggers

Make a list of five things you can do each day to make yourself laugh and smile. These things are your “happy triggers”. Use them often!

Be Grateful

Gratefulness has been shown in many studies to increase happiness, positive mood, general well-being and vitality.

Gratitude practice is often “prescribed”.  I didn’t used to like listing things I’m grateful for, but what I’ve found is that the more I practice and the more specific I get, the more I really like it.

I’ve been doing this more often.  Anytime I’m waiting for something or if I wake up in the night, I start listing things I’m grateful for. The result is that I feel happier!

“You can be grateful about anything: being alive, the ability to breathe, the trees, the air, the sun, the stars, indoor plumbing, abundant food, the country in which you were born, your family, your friends, your pet, music, love, romance, a great movie, your favorite book, the clouds, the mountains, a flower, a child’s laugh, a puppy’s curiosity, a new idea, the telephone, the Internet, paintings, sculptures, plays, heating and air conditioning. Get the idea?” — Andy Andrews in The Seven Decisions

Appreciation of Others

Appreciating the work others do is a great way to have a grateful spirit. Look around at all the work other people do that positively affects your life.  Think of all the people who work in a grocery story to make sure we can buy food and supplies, the truck drivers who delivered it to the store, the people who maintain roads and stop lights, sanitation workers, postal carriers and delivery people…

Thank some of these folks as you encounter them during your day.

Smile

Andy Andrews reminds us that smiling can affect our biochemistry and make us happy. He suggest smiling for sixty seconds and see how we feel.

He also suggests learning to smile while we talk, which may take some practice.

And he encourages us to smile at everyone we see.

I’m not a naturally smily person, so this is an area that I can work on. It’s a skill I can build.

Happy People are More Successful

Andy Andrews points out that people who are happy are also more successful in life.  The reason is simple – other people want to be around happy people.

Therefore, if you’re happy versus grumpy, you’re more likely to get hired for a job, have good opportunities come your way, make friends easier and more.

And of course, all of that leads to more happiness!


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