Although it may be tempting to dismiss a call to happiness during troubled economic times, world strife, or personal grief as overly optimistic or too simplistic, I believe these are just the occasions for a reminder that when it comes to happiness, all of us have a choice. In fact, choosing to be happy is one of the few essential decisions that we get to make regardless of age, stage of life, or present situation. It’s a decision that can’t be taken away, and no one else can make it for us.
Each one of us gets to choose, every single moment of every day, whether or not we want to be happy. It’s the same as choosing which dress or tie to wear, or choosing to eat pancakes and syrup instead of bran cereal. Just as you choose the outfit because it makes you look good, you choose the pancakes to satisfy your sweet tooth craving. You choose to be happy because it’s how you want to experience life.
Happy people are more likable and desirable to be around. Isn’t it amazing how we’re drawn to people with sunny dispositions? One of the consequences of this phenomenon of human nature is that happy people regularly benefit from the enthusiastic help and cooperation of others.
Researchers have determined that happy people have stronger immune systems, endure pain better than unhappy people, and live longer. They have greater and longer opportunities to enjoy life and everything in it.
Happiness leads to greater job productivity, which often results in higher income. So why not choose to be happy?
No doubt, you can think of many reasons. You’re not where you want to be in your career; you’ve experienced financial setbacks; your children aren’t living up to your expectations; your boss doesn’t appreciate your efforts; your neighbors aren’t friendly. And your list goes on. Let me suggest that these are not reasons at all. They are excuses for not being happy.
Dale Carnegie explains it this way: “Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions; it is governed by our mental attitude.” You alone are in control of your attitude and making the decisions to improve your life. Choose to be happy, and then take the necessary steps to make it so.
I can personally attest to the connection between happiness and an improved quality of life. Many years ago, I decided that I would be intentional about choosing to be happy. I didn’t just say I wanted to be happy; I found out what I needed to do to make happiness a daily reality for me. Though I’m fortunate that I have experienced a rewarding career and professional life, it’s not my achievements that are to be credited for my happiness and the quality of life I now enjoy. Rather, it’s the little decisions I consistently make each day that continue to help me in my choice to be happy.
If you’ve never considered happiness as a choice before today, there has never been a better time than right now to choose happiness. Take control of your emotions and start focusing on the good things in your life and the person you want to become. As you do, you will begin to feel the happiness in your life.
Choose to be happy. It’s an attitude that will improve every part of your life.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #30.
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