Someone once told me happiness is a practice. I initially thought they were crazy. I thought: ‘you’re either happy or you’re not, and a lot of it depends on what’s going on in your life.’ How can you be happy when you didn’t get the job you want, or your significant other just broke up with you? But, then, at a particularly unhappy time in my life (post-breakup) I reached for guidance and found it through books like The Secret, and May Cause Miracles, and they basically say, for lack of a better way of putting it, you need to be happy, to get happy. Happiness begets happiness. Simple.
So, what’s your happiness practice? I bet you never thought too much about it. I don’t have a huge time-consuming practice to attain happiness, however, when I wake up, I say “thank you” about 7 times and practice gratitude. Each day it’s different. Sometimes, I say the first “thank you” when my feet hit the floor. Sometimes, I look at my favorite painting of the Brooklyn Bridge that my friend Mike Ingui painted and is hanging in my living room. It all depends on how I feel. I also have a few mood-shifters I can rely on throughout the day, a picture of my childhood dog Max that I keep on my phone – that always makes me happy – and a song on my iPhone that makes me smile. It’s simple. It’s easy. And it works.
Now, on the flip side, have you ever been so content with life, and so happy, that you think, “wow, this is too good to be true, I better enjoy this before it all goes away?” Yeah, that’s called ‘foreboding joy.’ And it’s a common problem. Why do we think there’s only enough happiness to go around in the world, and at some point our luck will run out? Children don’t feel that way. Somehow, we’ve learned this through experience. Maybe we had a great job, and then we lost it. Or the same happened with a relationship. But, think about this: feeling as if it may go away doesn’t protect us from feeling sad if or when it does go away. It just shortens the time we enjoy it. And that’s a terrible idea, no? Researcher and Author Brene Brown says the best antidote to foreboding joy is gratitude. Be thankful for the things in your life that are making you happy, and that’s it.
Happiness is a choice. I firmly believe that. It’s not an easy choice; sometimes we get in a pattern or a habit of blah-ness or straight up unhappiness. But, every moment is a moment to change that and choose to be happy.
What are you grateful for?