I think we live in a culture that is very misguided about where happiness comes from. We are taught, very early on, that in order to be happy, we need to get the right job, meet the right mate, look a particular way, make more money, the lists go on and on. The result of these messages is that most people are left feeling dissatisfied and discontent with what they have, they compare themselves to others, focusing on how they don’t have enough or don’t measure up to everyone around them. The reason we are so unsatisfied is because there is NEVER enough, as long as we are dependent on these external sources to be what brings us happiness, we will never find it.
The truth is: all the happiness you will ever find in your life is already within you, you just have to look in the right places. Happiness is a CHOICE. We are in charge of how we see our world and what we choose to focus on. Here are 10 choices you can make to help you shift your focus so that you can start finding happiness in your life.
1. Choose to be the best YOU can be: Stop comparing yourself to others. This is your journey and yours alone. Others may walk it with you but no one can walk it for you. Learn about and honor who you are, not who you think other people think you should be. Be honest with yourself about your intentions and your values, commit to your goals, and give your all to all you do. John Wooden once said, “Success and happiness is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
2. Choose to be around the right people: You know the old saying, “misery loves company.” Well the opposite is true too. Choose to be around people who bring something positive to your life, people who are kind, honest, like-minded in their values, and that reflect the person you want to be. Choose to be around people who encourage your growth and support your journey.
3. Choose gratitude: Choose to focus on what you do have in your life, rather than what you do not have. When we find gratitude and appreciate all that we already have we find a deeper sense of happiness, without having to go out and acquire any new thing. Take 5 minutes at the end of your day to write a gratitude list, commit to keeping writing this gratitude list every night for the next 30 days and see how your happiness shifts just by taking the time to be thankful for all the things you already have.
4. Choose to find the positive perspective: Pain is a part of life, suffering is optional. We are all going to experience difficult and painful feelings, finding happiness isn’t about overcoming human emotions. But choose to recognize that everything happens for a reason and it’s up to us to find the meaning. When life doesn’t go your way, which it won’t always, use that as an opportunity to find the lesson, to find the deeper meaning, and to find the growth you were meant to have. So often, we cause undue suffering, because we can’t let go of our ideas of how it’s “supposed to be” rather than accepting how it IS. This moment, like every moment, is a priceless gift and an opportunity. Be positive, smile, and make it count. Pretend today is going to be great. Do so, and it will be. Research shows that although we think that we act because of the way we feel, in fact, we often feel because of the way we act. A great attitude always leads to great experiences.
5. Choose to SMILE: This one doesn’t need a lot of explaining. Smile. Don’t wait for someone else to smile first. A genuine smile will make you and everyone around you feel better.
6. Choose to take care of your body: And I don’t mean to diet and lose weight. Taking care of your body is a crucial part of taking care of your SELF. The way you treat your body is a direct reflection of your feelings of self-worth and value. Choose to be kind and nourishing because you are worth it. Keep yourself hydrated, get plenty of sleep, feed yourself , and move your body because if your physical energy isn’t in good shape your emotional, mental, and spiritual energy will all be negatively affected as well.
7. Choose honesty: I think it’s so important that we are honest with those around us, that we are kind, we don’t cheat, we don’t tell lies, but what I think is most important is that we are honest with ourselves. It’s surprising how difficult that can actually be! When we stop making excuses and justifying all of our behaviors we open ourselves up to a new way of living. By finding genuine honesty with ourselves, we also allow ourselves to embrace our humanity, giving ourselves permission to make mistakes, without judgement and to forgive ourselves of past offenses so that we can move forward with integrity and dignity.
8. Choose to give back: In life you get back what you put out, therefore we help ourselves when we help others. This isn’t to be confused with selfishness or martyrdom, but let yourself care about others, offer kindness, compassion, and do something greater than you.
9. Choose to let go when you know you should: This applies to the big and little things in life. So much of our suffering comes from trying to force solutions, whether it’s a failing relationship or simply trying to park our car in a spot that’s just too small. Knowing when to let go of how we think it is supposed to be is one of the most effective ways of creating happiness and serenity in our lives. We often fear that we are weak, or giving up, but letting go and moving on is what makes us stronger and happier.
10. Choose to embrace TODAY: You can continue living in the past, or you can choose to create happiness in your life today. Everyday is a new beginning and a new ending. Embrace it. Don’t let the successes, or failures, of yesterday deprive you of what you have today. Just for today, make the choice to be the best you can be. Just for today, love and accept yourself as you are and choose to carry yourself with honesty, integrity, and dignity. Just for today, make the choice to find happiness.