Happiness may be the most elusive of all ideals. We’re taught from a very young age that happy is good and sad is bad; we’re programmed to believe that without achieving ‘happiness’ we’ll be void of anything worthwhile in life. And finding it, sometimes, can feel like a tall order.
First of all, how do we even begin to define happiness? Well, that’s deeply personal and different for each of us. There are many books written about how to reach happiness, listing different thoughts on the how. Some list characteristics of happy people. A client mentioned Sonja Lyubomirsky, who does this in her book “The How of Happiness,” which she touts as a “scientific approach to getting the life you want.” However I am not certain I would agree with her, as happiness is an emotion. What I do agree with is that some people are happier than others. This is due to the way they view the world and how they use language to shape their thoughts. Using positive self-talk, you can shift from negative to positive feelings, therefore achieve a happier state of being.
Some of Sonia’s ideas about people who are happier that I do agree with are as follows:
- • They devote time to their family and friends, nurturing and enjoying those relationships.
- • They practice optimism when imagining their futures.
- • They are not immune to the vicissitudes of life. However they are very aware that change is constant, and don’t dwell on misfortune.
The keywords in the characteristics make sense—devotion, optimism, resilience—they’re all powerful attributes that contribute to positive outcomes. When we focus on what’s possible through positive thought and action, we’re training our brain to be more proactive in creating ‘happy’ solutions.
As I think about happiness, I know it to be an emotion that is created by a combination of thought and action. You are probably aware of the actions you take that make you happy. Consider increasing how often you take those actions. Also, as you become more and more aware of your thought processes practicing positive self-talk will become a habit.
When or if you are feeling sad, you can use this exercise to bring you back into happiness. Sit quietly in nature, focus your intention upon your heart and ask yourself what makes me feel happy…listen quietly as the answer may come in the sound of a voice, the passing of a squirrel, the falling of a leaf. As you regain your center the language of your thoughts will shift into positive ones and you will experience happiness again.