Happiness is not a goal we achieve. If I achieve A, B, C, then I will be happy, or if D, E, F happens to me, then I will be happy are both myths. Happiness is available now, at any time, to anyone. We can work towards goals that will bring more joy and happiness to our lives, but if we don’t know how to be happy now, chances are we won’t know how to be happy when we finally do get everything we want.
Happiness is a choice. Unfortunately, most people haven’t realized this yet. Most of us choose by default another emotion that we grew up with or that we’ve allowed to dominate us. Maybe we grew up in an angry house, so we default to anger. The truth is we can choose to be happy instead. Right now, right this very second, we can allow happiness to blossom.
Happiness can be exercised like a muscle. Not everyone is born with a sunny disposition, but we can get more of one if we work on it. Practice trying to find the positive in a difficult situation. Practice being grateful for what you have, right now. Chances are there is someone in the world that has much less who is happy.
Getting more happiness doesn’t have to be a big make over. Psychologists argue that it is difficult to change major personality traits. However, those that focus on personality are finding there are many qualities that are actually learned habits. Just as a habit can be learned, it can be unlearned, or a new habit learned. For more see the article called “Second Nature” in Psychology Today.
Happiness comes from within. Seeking happiness outside of ourselves is setting us up for failure. No amount of money in the world can make us happy if we don’t know how to be happy. On the other hand, if we are happy, money can make life even happier. No one person can make us happy if we are miserable, but if we are happy, a person can bring more happiness to our lives.
Being happy doesn’t mean you will never be sad. Happiness doesn’t mean annihilating anxiety or banishing grief. As psychotherapist and Buddhist Mark Epstein says: [Happiness is] the ability to receive the pleasant without grasping and the unpleasant without condemning.
Happiness can broaden your mind. Literally! Researchers, such as Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a distinguished psychology professor and author of Positivity, have found that positive emotions such as love, joy, happiness and gratitude broaden your field of vision. So when you are happy, it’s much easier to see the forest for the trees and not get bogged down in negative tunnel vision.
Happiness is contagious. If you exhibit positivity and happiness, those around you are more likely to feel sensations of happiness too. Even Grumpy Gus will have a hard time avoiding being amused when you are laughing and joyful.
Lasting happiness is attainable. According to research psychologist and University of California professor of psychology Sonja Lyubomirsky, in her book The How of Happiness, but only if you are willing to do the work. This is no different than education, weight loss or physical fitness. Just like anything else worth having, happiness takes some hard work and dedication.