Is it possible to be happy when you don’t have what you want?

A beautiful sunset can help me feel happy! This one is from a trip in 2010 to Rangeley, Maine.

A beautiful sunset can help me feel happy! This one is from a trip in 2010 to Rangeley, Maine.

Ever notice that there are some people who post nothing but negative things on Facebook? Those same people, if you know any of them in real life, also tend to play the “woe is me, my life is the worst” card a lot. Of course, we’re all entitled to occasional bouts of negativity – especially when things are not going well for us (or during times we have no control – such as when a loved one is sick).  I’m prone to some serious rants myself sometimes!

But did you know that being happy is a choice? 

It has little to do with what you have or what you don’t have, your plans lining up perfectly, having things in life handed to you or even good luck.

You can have all those things and be miserable.  You can have nothing and still be happy.

Many people seem to think that happiness is something that shows up one day when you get that job you’ve been working hard for, when you finally lose weight or when baby makes three.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.

You can have all the things you thought you wanted and still be miserable (and you are almost guaranteed to be if you allow events or objects to dictate when you are supposed to feel happy).  Positive psychologists believe we have a “set point” for happiness – meaning that most of us will have a certain level of overall happiness in our lives regardless of what happens to us.  Happy things will boost us for awhile but eventually you’ll go back to where you naturally live on the happiness scale (and the same goes for unhappy/sad events).  While this does mean that some of us are more naturally inclined to feel happy more often than others, it also means that there are things you can do to feel more happiness in your life.  And it begins with YOU.

You’re in control of your happiness.  You and only you.  If you don’t like something, you’re the only one who can change it. There are two tasks I want you to try that can help increase your happiness in life:

1. If there is something in your life that you know is a source of unhappiness for you, whether it be your job, your weight, your relationship or your to do list, sit down and create a strategy to change it.  Maybe all you need to do is talk to your manager to change your responsibilities, or maybe it’s time for a new job entirely.  Maybe you need to delegate chores at home more so you have some time to spend with friends and your husband or maybe you’re just trying to do too much and need to work on relaxing your standards.  Whatever it is, it’s up to you to figure out what the biggest strains in your life are and change what you can.

2. If you’re looking at your life right now and going “But I like my job, my weight is good, my husband and I are happy and I have plenty of free time but I’m still not happy” then I have another task for you.  And this one is so much easier than the first one!  If there really is nothing in your life that you feel is dragging you down, get yourself a notebook and a pen and keep it on the nightstand next to your bed.  Each night, before you turn off the light and go to sleep I want you to write down at least 3 things you are grateful for.  It can be things that happened that day or something more general. If you have difficulty coming up with things you are grateful for, you can also list things you did well that day (some days just getting out of bed and getting the kids off to school will be something to be proud of!).  Do this every night (or morning if that is easier for you) for at least three weeks and I guarantee you will feel a little better about your life.

And if you don’t, I think you need to look closer at task number one.

Ultimately, we invite happiness in to our lives by choosing to take control of where life takes us. No one has bad luck ALL of the time.  We’re responsible for much of what happens to us. Choose happiness and you are choosing to actively participate in your life which is a great thing!

What sorts of things are affecting your happiness right now?  What can be done about it?  Will you choose happiness?

This post was originally published as an email. To get on this list, sign up in the green box below!

 

Advertisements

Comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s