We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. Links to books are "affiliate links," meaning I earn a small percentage when you click through and buy the book. This costs you absolutely nothing extra but helps me keep my cats in the lifestyle they're accustomed to!
I’ve been thinking and writing a great deal about happiness lately. As I explained on another blog (Self Help Daily), I’ve received a great number of e-mails from people lately dealing with the blues, depression, and the pursuit of happiness.
One of the things that strikes me the most about happiness is that most people think of it as something they have to earn or “attract.” There are a lot of different approaches to happiness and, like most of my approaches, my own are pretty simple. I believe that happiness begins and ends in your mind and in how you approach life.
Think about it, happy people are no better or worse than unhappy people. Happy people aren’t always the richest and unhappy people aren’t always the poorest. Happy people aren’t always the prettiest or brightest and unhappy people aren’t always the homeliest or dimmest.
Unhappy people aren’t always battling a weight problem and happy people aren’t always their ideal weight. Not all happy people have perfect spouses and many unhappy people are married to saints in training.
What we see in the world around us doesn’t determine our happiness, it’s how we look at what’s around us that counts. If we choose to dwell on the negative things, we will be unhappy. If we choose to concentrate on the things we don’t have and aren’t able to do, we will be unhappy.
I know I’ve told you this umpteen dozen times, but I have a great and varied number of bad traits. I never keep any of them covered up. My feeling is this: If you cover your bad traits long enough, you’ll forget about them and never do anything about them. But if you keep them in plain sight so you can remind yourself, daily, to work on them.
Anyway, having said that – one of my good traits is I’m a happy camper. I am a genuinely happy person and my conditions and/or circumstances simply do not affect that. Like most people, I’ve been on mountain tops that were so high that I felt like I walked on clouds and I’ve been in valleys so low that it was like, “What sky? Are you sure one still exists?”
On one end, I was fortunate to find and marry Mr. Right, have three beautiful daughters, and a non-ending parade of pets I cherish. My family is close and we laugh on an hourly basis (always a good thing!). However, I have also lost both of my parents far sooner than they should have died – my dad was only in his 50’s and my mom was in her early 60’s. We also lost my husband’s mother as well as his sister, at a very young age. I lost my dream house (when my husband’s company got hit extremely hard after September 11th and we had to move), and have had to move from several places that I loved muchly.
I’ve had a few illnesses and I get to take medications regularly, I’ve lived through two bad car wrecks (neither of which was my fault, believe it or not), and we witnessed a total upheaval at a church we’d attended for a very long time (also not my fault!) which cost us some of the closest friends we’ve ever had.
In the span of one particularly nasty year, we had to pack up and move out of my beautiful dream house (it was a new, beautiful home that was all I’d ever hoped it’d be) AND I watched as a picture postcard type scene got smaller and smaller in my rear view mirror when we moved away from a remarkable place we lived on the beach in the Gulf of Mexico.
At one point in the second moving process, my husband said that I was “tough.” I thought, ‘Not really. Just happy and I refuse to be any other way.” Having to move several times in a row like that was all part of his job. It wasn’t life, nature, fate, or God picking on me. I knew that. I kept focusing on the fact that my family was all together, healthy and happy. When the blues came into the picture, I willed myself to focus on something else instead. When I found myself missing pelicans and dolphins, I’d hustle to the nearest window to watch cardinals and robins. They always made me smile, which was pretty much the plan. I made sure to chase away negative feelings as soon as they showed up.
It’s honestly what kept me from crying a river. It also kept me, you guessed it, happy.
I think that this is the secret. You have to focus your mind on the positive and not sit, staring at the negative with tears in your eyes. You have to look at what you have instead of what you don’t have – what life has given you rather than what it has taken away.
When you search the words “How to Be Happy” in Google, there are more than 92,500,000 results. Obviously this is a very popular and often talked about subject. Ironic, isn’t it, that the answer to the question “How can I be happy?” is found inside of the person asking the question – not outside. You can’t search for the answer “out there.” The answer lies in a place that isn’t visible to the naked eye – it lies inside of each one of us.
We can be as happy as we choose to be – as happy as we make up our minds to be. If an individual chooses to look around them and only see, or acknowledge, the things that he/she doesn’t have or can’t do, they aren’t ever going to be happy. But if they dwell on the things they do have and the things they can do, they will have more happiness than they know what to do with.
Now let me point this out – I’m not saying to ignore the bad things, certainly not if they’re things you can do something about. For example, if you despise your 35 year old sofa, save up money for a new one (or at least one that’s newer than the one you have). We should all want nice things and there’s nothing wrong with wanting the best. What I am saying is this: Don’t sit on the maligned sofa feeling sorry for yourself. Don’t keep saying how unattractive it is, how “embarrassed” you are by it, or how it just isn’t fair that other people have new sofas while you have to sit on a golden oldie! Thoughts like these are heartless thieves, they’ll rob you of smiles, laughter, and happiness. In the end, they’ll rob you of your quality of life.
Run negative thoughts out of your mind and you’ll be amazed by how much better you feel.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with wanting nice things – but I’m noticing that nothing seems to be enough for a lot of people these days. They want more, more, more and new, new, new. Instead of focusing on clicks and whistles, I wish more people would focus on their relationships and their enjoyment of life. Quality of life is not determined by the quality of your home, furniture, car, clothes, etc. Quality of life is determined by how well you get along with the people in your life, how often they make you smile and how often you make them laugh.
If you want a happier life, change the way you view the world around you. Take off the negative glasses and put on the positive ones. The view is so much better! Be thankful for what you have but be even more thankful for who you have.
Make each moment count double,