A quick walk through any bookstore and it’s easy to find multiple books written about finding happiness. Our modern world seems increasingly obsessed with it, and like any fashionable item people are scrambling to obtain it. The word pursuit means an effort to secure or attain. All too often, that is exactly what occurs for people. Rather than having happiness as their reality, they pursue it, they follow after it, they work hard at trying to find and secure it without ever actually having it.
The idea that is often perpetuated is that certain things must happen and then happiness follows. It’s the idea that, “One day, when I have money, one day when I have the perfect relationship, one day when that thing I have decided I must have shows up…then I will be happy.” Thus, the pursuit of happiness rather than the experience of happiness.
The reality is that happiness is available to everyone right now. It is not determined by the family you were born into, the country you live in, who you are married to, your financial status or anything else. Happiness is attainable. Happiness is a choice.
If you are unhappy, if you are happy sometimes but not others, if you are a little bit happy but would like to have more, you can. Choose it. There is not another person, or a certain amount of money, or a change of circumstances that will make you happy. You are the source of happiness for you. You either choose it or you don’t.
If you desire the satisfaction and happiness of life, here are eight tips on how to choose it.
Be willing to be different
If you are not willing to be different, you will never truly be happy. Why? Take a look around. How many people are actually happy?
Many people learn unhappiness from their family. We are handed a point of view at a young age; we are programed by our parents and our schoolmates to believe certain things. Many of us then function as if those points of view are true and this limits our capacity for happiness.
One of the points of view we inherit is that ‘You’re not doing life right, unless you’re struggling’. In believing this to be true, we actually make happiness wrong.
If you walk into a room beaming with joy and brimming with happiness, people around you are likely to say ‘Geez. What are you on today?’ They make your happiness wrong. In this way, you learn to make the struggle – or the appearance of struggle – more valuable to you than happiness.
Being happy is different from where much of the world functions. If you are truly willing to create your life as joyful and ease-filled you have to let go of the struggle and be willing to be different.
Give up the need to be right
A lot of unhappiness is caused when people choose being right over being happy. Being right causes you to feel triumphant, but this is not happiness. You’ve got to recognize that nobody makes you happy, and nobody makes you unhappy. You are the creator of your own life. You don’t need to score points against someone else to feel good. You just need to choose to be you and to be happy.
Everybody has a different point of view and you can spend your time in conflict, trying to convince them that they are wrong, trying to make you right, or you can ask yourself “Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy?”
When being happy is more important to you than being right, happiness becomes your reality.
Change your point of view
People often have the idea that things “happen to them.” Just listen to people talk for a few minutes and you are likely to hear them tell you about something that happened to them. Things don’t actually happen to you. Your point of view creates your reality. What that means is that whatever you decide is so, becomes so.
Let’s use money as an example. If you have the point of view that you have to work hard for money, you will work hard for every dollar you earn. You may have a lot of reasons as to why you think you don’t have as much money as you would like. You may tell the story that you couldn’t find a good job, or you didn’t go to college or you have too many kids. Whatever your story, it’s not actually the job, the education or the kids that are determining your reality. It’s your point of view.
The same is true for happiness. Your point of view determines whether or not you have it. If you have decided that something must happen and then you will be happy, happiness always remains a possibility for the future rather than something you choose now.
If you would like to change your point of view about anything, here’s a tool you can use. Every time you notice a point of view say, “Interesting point of view. I have that point of view.” Keep saying it until you notice that you feel lighter. When you say this phrase, your mind lets go of what it has concluded, and your point of view becomes simply interesting rather than real and true, and when it’s simply interesting, you can change it.
Practice asking questions
Often, in our search for happiness, we look for answers. We have been taught that the right answer, the right decision, is a key to happiness. Answers and conclusions actually keep something greater from showing up. So instead of coming to conclusion about what is happening in your life, ask questions and invite new possibilities.
Here are some examples of conclusions that can be replaced with questions.
- Rather than saying, “This situation is so bad” or “Wow, this situation is amazing”, ask “How does it get any better than this?” This triggers your unconscious self to make an unpleasant situation better, and an uplifting situation even greater.
- Instead of believing that you are a victim to life and that happiness is given or taken, ask “Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy?” This empowers you to realize that happiness is a choice and can be called upon at any time.
- Instead of saying “I am stuck” or “I quit”, ask “What else is possible I have never considered?” This triggers your unconscious awareness to look for the various solutions and possibilities available to you.
Curiosity is Key
Research has shown that curious people – those who are constantly asking questions and looking for new possibilities – tend to enjoy higher levels of positive emotions, lower levels of anxiety, more satisfaction with life, and greater psychological well-being.
Take kids as an example. In case you haven’t noticed, they tend to have a higher level of happiness than most. They play. They imagine. They explore. They ask questions. They are curious.
Each one of us has an innate awareness of what decisions will bring us the best of love, life, health, finance and business. The trick is to keep your mind open to every possibility – to never seek an answer to anything. To forever and always remain curious.
Start a Gratitude Journal
What we acknowledge grows bigger. One of the best ways to choose happiness is by focusing on the things that you are grateful for because as you do, more of those things show up. To become more aware of all of the amazing gifts in your life, start a gratitude journal and start to write them down.
Every day, write down 3- 5 things that you are grateful for. Include what you are grateful for about you. The first few days it will be easy. You will write down the things you are obviously grateful for. After a few days, you will have to look beyond what you are currently aware of. As you do, you will begin to see that your life is filled with gifts all around. The air you breathe. The beauty of the nature around you and so much more. Focus on gratitude. Gratitude grows.
Don’t Take on Other People’s Stuff
One of the ways we get in the way of our happiness is taking on other people’s stuff. Our co-workers are unhappy. Our family members are unhappy. Our friends are unhappy. The other drivers on the road are unhappy. And we decide, “Oh! I should be unhappy too.”
Are you willing to be as different as you truly are? Are you willing to be happy even if no one around you is?
Here’s a great tool you can use. It’s called, ‘Who does this belong too?’ The thing is, you are like a gigantic radio picking up on everyone and everything around you and guess what? That includes a lot of unhappiness. So, the next time you feel unhappy, ask, ‘Who does this belong to?’ If you feel lighter when you ask, you’re not the unhappy one. You are just picking up on others. Let that unhappiness go! Choose the happiness that is available.
Practice being happy. Even if it’s just for 10 seconds at a time. You can choose it again as many times over as you like. Let’s say you have 10 seconds to live the rest of your life and in that final 10 seconds, you’d like to be truly happy. Choose it! Choose happy. That life times is over. You have another 10 seconds to live the rest of your life. What do you choose? Happy? You certainly can. Every 10 seconds, if you’d like, you can choose to be happy. If you stop being happy and you notice, choose again. “Wait. Somewhere my happy got lost. This is a new 10 seconds. In these 10 seconds… I choose happy.” It really is that simple.
Living can be an adventure. Happiness can be now. If you would like to buy the point of view that circumstances determine your happiness or lack of, then you will spend your life pursuing happiness rather than creating it by your choice. It all comes down to choice. What will you choose?
Gary Douglas is an internationally-recognized thought leader, bestselling author, business innovator and founder of Access Consciousness® a set of simple-yet-profound tools currently transforming lives in 173 countries. He has authored or co-authored 17 books including the Barnes and Noble #1 bestselling novel, The Place. An avid investor and entrepreneur, Gary is a vocal advocate of Conscious Capitalism and benevolent leadership. He co-hosts a weekly radio on Voice America and has featured in numerous TV shows, print media and online publications around the world. He is renowned for his unique insights on love, relationships, money, business, aging, leadership and emotional freedom. Follow @garymdouglas.