Starting now, I choose to be happy.
The other day I walked past a little gift shop that was displaying a sign in its window that read:- “Happiness is not a destination. It is a way of life”.
For the last year I’ve felt like I’ve been working towards a happier life, a better life. People around me are booking their next holiday whilst I’m left thinking, maybe next year. A couple of people I know have recently got new jobs, and I thought, could I do better? Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been someone who is content with my lot in life. I’ve never wished for a bigger house, chance of a lifetime holidays etc. Of course, if those things became available to me, I wouldn’t turn them down, but I wouldn’t feel my life was any less fulfilled if they didn’t. However, am I always happy? Honestly? No.
After recent knock downs and set backs, my mind set has very much been along the lines of ” things can only get better”. A phrase that indicates that over a period of time, things will slowly start to pick back up. Why can’t that indefinite, undetermined time be now? In a previous post I touched upon the fact that I’m paranoid, and find the worst in any situation. I put this down to the fact that I’ve not been completely happy. I’m not sat in corner crying my eyes out all the time. I’m certainly not depressed, I know people who have been there and my state of mind does not compare. Some days though, I struggle to get out of bed because I’m just not “feeling it”. So, can I, or anyone, choose to be happy? I believe the answer is yes.
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”
― Abraham Lincoln
Looking for quotes to use in this post, I came across some very interesting points that came off the back of some research that was carried out. “Research shows that happy people have modest levels of expectation and aspirations — they want what they can get — while unhappy people never seem to get what they want. They also know how to avoid disappointments and how to generate pleasant surprises. This is because they strive for realistic goals and are happy with their lot”. So, what this is saying is that unhappy people are mainly unhappy because their goals and expectations are way beyond what they can reasonably achieve. They set themselves up for a fall. They are achieving a life that most people would be envious of, yet because they reached too high, THEY feel they have failed. Now, I’m not saying don’t have hopes and dreams, far from it, in fact, reach for the stars. Be optimistic. Be glass half full. Be realistic. Set a goal that you can, with the right focus and mind set, achieve and be proud of. If you happen to over achieve on your goal, then of course that’s brilliant. Just don’t get stuck in the “I could’ve done better” zone. Happiness doesn’t live in “if only”. Watching the 2012 Olympics with my son, we watched British athlete Christine Ohuruogu win a fantastic 400m silver medal. As an athlete against world wide competition, I would’ve been thrilled with a silver. Ok, yes, she was reigning Olympic Gold medallist, I’ll give her that, but her interview afterwards left me and my son amazed, to the point that almost four years on we remember it.
“I was stunned. I was heartbroken actually, I really was,” said Ohuruogu. She added: “To lose your title like that, it was tough. But Sanya’s a worthy competitor and she ran a good race so I have to be happy with what I got. It could have been worse. I came here with one thing and one thing only on my mind and that was to continue my reign as Olympic champ. I’m just a bit disappointed.”
Ok, she’s a competitive athlete. She’s already won an Olympic gold. Of course she wants to win. What’s the point in doing what she does if she doesn’t? However, all that we teach our kids at school about how it’s not the winning that matters, it’s the taking part, was thrown out the window when she said “so I HAVE to be happy with what I got”. She visualised herself as winning, and only winning, so that just finishing in the medals was not good enough. Ultimately, she wasn’t happy.
How do we choose happy when life just wants to throw it’s shit at us? I do truly believe it’s down to mind set. Remember, this whole choosing happy is new to me too. Trust me though, I’ve read about it, true happiness is a real thing! I’ve come across a few interesting ways to ensure your choice to be happy is supported and nurtured.
1) LIVE FOR THE RIGHT NOW.
Don’t dwell on yesterday. Don’t hold out for tomorrow. Grab the right now. The past is the past for a reason. It’s already played its part in shaping and moulding us into who we are today. Most importantly, we can’t change it. Also, don’t get stuck on a future that hasn’t happened yet. If we stay happy and positive we are more likely to naturally fall into the idealised future we hold in our heads, but if reaching that ideal is the only thing that will make us happy, we may never get there. If you can’t be happy today, what makes you think tomorrow will be any different?
2) DON’T COMPARE YOUR LIFE TO ANYONE ELSE’S
Sounds obvious but we’re all guilty of doing it on some level. You visit a friends house and its tidy, immaculate, you wish you had the time. You’re told a story that someones partner bought them flowers for no reason, you’d like that. Someone you know gets paid to go abroad for work….. if only. If we were all the same the world would be a boring place, right? Ambition is healthy and makes people happy, but envy makes people unhappy. When one relationship after the other failed for me last year, I found myself looking at other people who had recently started dating, and wishing for that too. They’d lasted longer than me. They were going on holiday together. I never got to that stage. However, if I was to focus on my goals and dreams, I could enjoy my achievements. Looking at it now, I wouldn’t change anything that happened in 2015. I’ve made new friends, learnt how to like myself again and discovered how I want to be treated by a man.
3) JUST BE YOURSELF.
Its important not to worry about what others think about you when choosing to be happy. I’ve heard all sorts about myself in the last year, 99% of it not true. I used to worry about it. Now though, I’ve realised I know the truth, so do those I choose to be in my life, and that is all that matters. I am authentic. I’m just me.
Happy people are spontaneous, natural and real; they’ll say what they think and feel with no hidden meanings, and they aren’t concerned what others think of them. From now on, I don’t care. Bring it on! I am me. Take me as I am.
4) STOP WORRYING.
Ah, ok, so this is gonna be the hardest for me. I’m a born worrier. If I don’t get a text from the boyfriend, I worry he’s gone off me. If I say what I think, I worry I’ve upset someone. I worry about a store visit from the area manager. I worry about the reason why someone’s called me and I’ve missed their call. Apparently, 90% of our worries never come true. So, the same as not dwelling on if only, we shouldn’t worry about “what if”. It really might never happen.
5) USE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
We get happiness from interacting with other people. We get happiness from helping other people, and its good to remember that sometimes we are someone else’s “other people”, and there are people in our lives that want to help us too. Use them, and don’t be ashamed to do it. You know you’ll return the favour because they mean something to you. Know what you want from friendships and relationships. If it doesn’t make you happy, let it go. Last night my son and my boyfriend were happily killing each other on a Star Wars game on the PlayStation. And I laughed, I laughed so much I cried. The way they get on with each other makes him even more attractive to me. That’s what I want. I’m not letting that go.
So, to summarise, learn to value the things that you have in your life RIGHT NOW that make you happy. Choose happiness.
“Happiness is holding someone in your arms and knowing you hold the whole world.”
― Orhan Pamuk, Snow
“Sometimes life knocks you on your ass… get up, get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
“A mathematical formula for happiness:Reality divided by Expectations.There were two ways to be happy:improve your reality or lower your expectations.”
― Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes