Happiness Is a Choice & Happiness Is a Habit

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Is happiness a choice? Or, is happiness a habit?  Or is happiness a mindset?

In my opinion (and positive psychologists back me up on this), happiness is not one thing; happiness is a choice, it’s also a habit, and it’s also a mindset.

What makes you happy may not make me happy. The trick to living a happier life is finding those things that light you up, make you feel fulfilled, and enhance your overall sense of well-being.

lincoln quote most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be

Science tells us there are several things that can “hardwire our brain for happiness.” If you want to increase your happiness level, here are some choices and habits that can lead to a happier life:

Choose to Believe Life Is Good

Albert Einstein once said the most crucial decision determining how happy our lives will be is “whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”  Sure, there’s plenty of bad in the world, but I choose to believe there’s infinitely more good; I see it in the hopeful and loving faces of people every single day. 

We often see what we look for; when you look at your life and the world, what do you see, mostly good or mostly bad? The perspective you adopt impacts your life more than you realize. 

Of course, it's not enough to sit around wanting to be happy; you must make the effort to take steps toward happiness by acting with more love, finding work you enjoy, and all the rest … Only through recognizing my happiness did I really appreciate it. Happiness depends partly on external circumstances, and it also depends on how you view those circumstances.

Kindness —Give It, Receive It

When given or received, kind acts have the power to elevate your happiness. Does the warm fuzzy feeling dissipate?  Yes.  That just means you need to express kindness often to cultivate its full power to make you a happier person.

Many find giving is easy, but receiving is much more challenging. We need to be open to letting others give to us, whether it be a compliment or a smile, or any type of gift. It’s lovely to bless others, but allowing others to bless you is equally important. 

Find Your Calm

Spending quiet time in nature or meditation supports our sense of well-being.  We all need this, and we need it daily. Even five minutes of calm can work wonders to generate the inner peace you need.

Having a deep reservoir of peace within to draw from is a huge advantage when we face times of turbulence in our lives.  Everyone faces tough times, so you need a strategy for remaining resilient in stressful and anxiety-provoking situations.  Having a good calming, centering practice in place helps you navigate difficult moments with greater confidence that you’ll get through them.

Laugh More

Don’t take your life so seriously; none of us are getting out alive. Laugh more. Joke more.  Watch more funny movies.  Be silly.  It will lighten your heart and illuminate your life.

Be an Optimist

Being optimistic is difficult for many of us, especially those who feel they are “realists” but exhibit more pessimistic qualities. Margin Seligman, the author of Learned Optimism, says, “pessimists can, in fact, learn to be optimists, and not through mindless devices like whistling a happy tune or mouthing platitudes…but by learning a new set of cognitive skills.”  Seligman says that “optimism is invaluable for a meaningful life.”   Suggested Reading:  Learned Optimism

Be Attentive to Your Blessings & Express Gratitude Often

Is your gratitude practice as thorough as it can be?  When I first starting drafting a gratitude list,  it contained the basics: I’m grateful for my health, my family, a roof over my head, food to eat, etc. When I relied on just my memory to create my gratitude list, I ran out of things to add to my list relatively quickly.  When I took the radical gratitude challenge, things got even better. I started paying attention more closely to the blessings in my life, and my gratitude list exploded, as did my sense of joy and appreciation for my life. 

Just the act of paying attention to what makes you happy can bring you more happiness in life. We take so many things for granted. There are soooooooo many things to be grateful for in your life;  make sure you pay close attention!

Watch Your Self-Talk

Your mind is constantly talking to you, but is it always giving you kind, uplifting, helpful messages? If it is, I want to know your secret.  

Most of us have an inner critic that likes to judge us.  Some of us have an “inner doom voice” that likes to scare us with thoughts of doubt, fear, doom, and gloom.  As Louise Hay, author of Heal You Life, used to say:  it’s time to stop scaring yourself with your thoughts!

It’s also time to start being kind to yourself. Critical self-talk robs you of happiness, and positive self-talk enhances your sense of joy and peace.

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