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How To: Be Happy

I’m a naturally happy person but I do have my dark days.   And when I go through the darkness it is so vital to stop, breathe, and reconnect with myself and make the decision to be happy.  Yes, happiness is a choice. Do you know what decision you are living?

At times my happiness annoys people, and those people I choose to stay away from as I believe they are still on their happiness journey.  Like minded individuals gravitate towards each other.  Happy people like being with happy people and sad people often like to stick with sad people.  This isn’t surprising, being on the same emotional wavelength acts as a comfort zone and helps people connect with one another, and sometimes people like to just be in that zone and not actually do anything about it.  But this type of mindset haults overall growth and adds more time to the journey to happiness.

Or sometimes people plaster on a smile and pretend they are happy, despite their nervous ticks, gravitation towards alcohol, drugs and other mood alterations, and just overall loss of that positive vibe.  And pretending you are happy, or forcing yourself to be happy despite your inner whispers pulling you in other directions, is perhaps the worst thing for your mind and body.  Owning your life, your feelings, and your decisions is a huge part of being content.

Content is not settling, it is acceptance.  And when you find yourself accepting things, rather than fighting them, a sense of calm will envelope you and provide you with a powerful sense of light.  This light feeling is relaxing and positive, it is happiness.

When you have inner happiness it is important to hold onto it, to focus on it, to not forget about it and to make sure you feed it just like you feed your body with food.  Happiness needs nourishment.  Think of happiness like a seed that needs water to grow.  A happiness seed is planted deep within all of our bodies, and we just need to feed it.  For some, perhaps myself included, the seed flourishes by itself like a weed.  For others, they develop a green thumb and actively work on making their happy seed thrive.  And for others, many many others nowadays, the seed gets lost in a bed of indecisiveness, worry, and nervousness.  Wherever you are, stop and ask yourself three simple works, “Am I happy?”  Close your eyes and just listen to what your body tells you.  Don’t judge yourself, don’t lie to yourself.  Stop, breathe, relax and search for your seed.

Happiness is defined as a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.

Many of my friends use visual cues to remind themselves to remain in the happy state.  I’ve spotted notes next to my friends doors reminding them to “smile and be grateful” just before walking out into the world.  I’ve seen happiness mission statements tacked to bathroom mirrors as just like you need to brush your teeth on a consistent basis it’s good to be consistently reminded to say yes to happiness. I’ve also had a friend write “love and happiness” on her water bottle that she took with her everywhere to act as her personal reminder.  These visual cues are just one way to help your mind stay focused on the positive as you battle throughout the day.

“Happy thoughts make happy molecules” New age guru Dr. Deepak Chopra says. “A sad person has a sad heart, a sad immune system, sad skin – everything is sad.”  Essentially our thoughts and feelings create our physiology and we have a choice as to how we think and feel. And it is indeed possible to think your way to a healthier you.

And now we have the science to back this new age theory that happiness is connected to your health and overall well being.   In the last 20 years, scientists have discovered the phenomenon referred to as neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to change as a result of one’s experience.  The Dalai Lama worked with neuroscientist Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin to evaluate the effects of meditation on the brain. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that intense meditation actually changes activity in the regions of the brain associated with anxiety and depression, fear and anger, and the ability of the body to heal itself.  “This positive state is a skill that can be trained,” Professor Davidson says. “Our findings clearly indicate that meditation can change the function of the brain in an enduring way.”

Mediation can be defined in a number of ways.  Some choose to mediate at retreats in silence for hours and days on end.  Others choose to exercise to calm the mind and release tension and reduce stress with long walks or “moving meditation” yoga.  Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine and McLean Hospital conducted studies showing that yoga increases levels of the brain chemical GABA, which regulates depression and anxiety.

Harvard Professor Shawn Achor wrote a book called The Happiness Advantage and stated that many people’s ideas about success and happiness are upside down.  Many people think they need to achieve this and that before they can be happy. “Happiness actually fuels success, not the other way around,” said Professor Achor.

Actively searching for your happiness is empowering.  Happiness is not based on material things.  It is not based on everything going your way.

Happiness is an emotional state that keeps you going, it encourages you to go after your dreams, it pushes you for success.  Happiness is not to be expected.  Happiness is not a given.  But it is a choice.  Happiness can be found within every single person, you just need to start looking.

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Posted on: June 21, 2013