Choosing to be happy — it’s not that hard, really.
Life is hard. You get to choose if you turn those tough moments into burdens or bolsters. It’s your choice that will define you.
It may sound odd, but this was a thought that popped into my head last night after a long day as I was trying to get to sleep. The thought felt important, so I jotted it in my bedside notepad and went back to bed, planning to revisit this morning.
This morning, as I cuddle with my coffee — caffeine is indeed a source of happiness, my beloveds — I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes attributed to Henry David Thoreau: “Happiness is like a butterfly: The more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”
And I think that’s the problem a lot of us have. We’re always chasing that butterfly — letting it define us. We tell ourselves happiness is achieved by reaching some goal — that gig we want, that boy we like, those jeans we want to fit into — and we may or may not reach it, but when we do, by then there’s usually something else we want more. Something ELSE that we need to be happy. And what happens? We’re spending so much time raising the bar that we never stop to just reflect and appreciate the absolute beauty right before us.
I want to say Don’t Worry, Be Happy – but that line was created years ago, by someone other than me. But it’s my own goal in the here and now. And by goal, I mean DECISION. I don’t plan on being happy and ceasing worrying – I just have chosen that’s what I’m doing. I have a lot I can be very torn up over — things that if I let it, can have me up in a cold sweat every night — but to make a conscious choice to be happy has been the best thing I could do for myself, and I’ve realized – happiness is not a ”Happiness is an achievement, and effort both inward and outward, is intrinsic to making it happen.
For me, and this will sound sappy to many of you, but IT WORKS – rather than listing each day all the things I was unhappy about – I decided to do an internal gratitude checklist — you can try it too, it involves just listing a few things that you are grateful for. This instantly shifts your brain away from bitterness and despair — AND promotes good feelings.
Also, embrace a meaningful task — help others, do something to improve their lives, and you’ll see your own sense of happiness soar. Just a few days ago, I was blown away, seeing the amazing work my good friend Nadine Jolie is doing with Beauty Bus — they provide beauty services like facials and hair washing plus products to the elderly and terminally-ill. Nadine is an amazing soul – but you can look at how her face glows in all photos from Beauty Bus events, and see how good DOING good makes her feel. It’s inspiring, you guys – makes me want to do something important, something big – something that will make other peoples lives better in some way, and I know, as a result, I’ll feel better too.
So, choose to be happy – reflect on all the awesomeness in your life, and make someone else’s life a little more awesome as well — you’ll be amazed at how good it feels!