For many people happiness comes naturally, for others it tends to be elusive. Some people put a lot of time, effort, and even money into achieving happiness. However, as American writer William Ward once said, “Happiness is an inside job”.
By this, he meant that we cannot buy or acquire true happiness with things external to ourselves. Happiness is the responsibility of each of us and it is up to us to choose to be happy. Therefore, happiness is really a choice or a series of choices we make. Moreover, it all must start from within.
For some people this will come as great news. Many people are waiting to be happy. They are either waiting for an event or for a certain person to come into their life to make them happy. And while people and relationships can certainly make us happier, they cannot create instant happiness where it did not exist. So if happiness is truly a choice why not simply decide to be happy?
Here are a few points to keep in mind in order to achieve real happiness.
Happy people love and accept themselves. As William Ward said, “happiness is an inside job”, and it pretty much starts here. We cannot be happy pretending to be someone that we are not. We need to accept ourselves completely and become comfortable in our own skin. Don’t try to do or be what you think other people want you to be. Be true to yourself and you will be happier.
We all know that feelings affect our behavior; i.e., but the opposite has also be proven to be true. Our behavior affects how we feel. Studies have shown that the act of smiling can make people feel happier. Putting a smile on your face communicates to the brain “happy feelings” and as a result, endorphins are released in the body. So smile when you are happy and smile when you are not; it really is that important.
Surround yourself with positive people. We don’t always get to choose the types of people we are around, but in many cases we can. We shouldn’t be around people who make us feel inadequate, miserable, depressed, or “on the defensive”. We should surround ourselves with people who accept us for who we are and bring out the best in us just by their very presence. Of course, this also applies to our choices in relationships. If we find that we are stressed and miserable with someone more often than we are happy then it’s time to let go of that relationship. Life is too short to spend our time will people who make us feel bad.
Focus on the things that you have. We can all come up with a list of the things we don’t have. Just like we can focus on all of the negatives in our life. However, it is just as easy to concentrate on the things that we do have and “count our blessings”. We sometimes forget that it is the simplest things that really matter and bring us the most happiness; family, friendships, and children. Spend some time each day just being grateful for the things you have. You will be amazed at how much you have to be thankful for. Those who cannot be grateful for what they already have can never truly be happy. Gratitude is essential to happiness.
Guard your thoughts. We all need to be vigilante when it comes to our thoughts, they can quickly take us down a negative road. We all experience “automatic negative thoughts” and they can come on quickly and send us into a state of anxiety or depression. Recognize that you are the custodian of your thoughts. You get to decide what thoughts you entertain and which ones to ignore. Thoughts are not facts and just because we think it does not make it so. If we find ourselves entertaining thoughts that are not positive or that only serve to hinder us, we need to get rid of those types of thoughts.
Once we realize that happiness is not contingent upon an event, a purchase, another person, or something else outside of ourselves and recognize that it’s simply a choice, we can make the choice to be happy.