Happiness is a habit.

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“Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  Abraham Lincoln

I want to talk about happiness. By definition happiness is a state of mind where our thinking is pleasant.  When we are happy, everything is better.  Our thoughts, our performance, even the function of our organs, our memory, and our senses (sight, touch, smell, feel, taste).  There have even been studies that showed happy optimistic businessmen to be more successful than their pessimistic counterparts. All this to say that a stat of happiness is something we all should strive for if we wish to lead healthy, successful lives.  The problem lies in the fact that most of us are seeking happiness in the wrong way.

We have our wires crossed.

We think that if we are successful, we will be happy.  If we are kind and considerate to other people we will be happy.  It would be more accurate to flip those sentences around and say, “Be happy and… you will be successful, kind, considerate, good, etc.” We are always seeking happiness as a consequence of our actions instead of choosing happiness and in return we are more successful, kind, and considerate.  Many of us are attempting to live life on a deferred payment plan.  Thinking you will be happy when you find a partner or spouse, get the better job, when you get the house or car paid for, when you get your child through college delays happiness and leads to disappointment.

If happiness is not practiced in the present, it is never experienced.

By now you know that Life is a series of one challenge after the next, if you want to be happy, you must put the steps in motion now, not defer your happiness until the challenges stop.

“Happiness is purely internal. It is produced, not by objects, but by ideas, thoughts, and attitudes which can be developed.  It is constructed by the individual’s own activities irrespective of the environment” – Dr. Matthews N. Chappell.

No one can be happy 100 percent of the time, the movie Inside Out shows us that.  But we can by making simple decisions, be happy and think pleasant thoughts most of the time.   As a side note: If you have not watched Inside Out, I highly recommend it.  It is a wonderful movie that makes me think about another nuance of feelings and emotions every time I watch it. Take a second and think about the little things that happen on a daily basis that cause you frustration, irritability, or any other form of emotion besides happiness.  Traffic, an inexperienced employee at the checkout line who gets your purchase wrong, your spouse not paying attention while you are talking, your child forgetting a school book at home, etc.  You and you alone get to choose your reaction to these situations.  No one is forcing you to get upset or be angry.  It is your choice. Since your reactions to situations are habits, you must replace the habit of happiness with the habit of anything other than happiness.  I found this exercise in a book called “Psycho-cybernetics” and thought I would share it with you: As a habit you always put one shoe on before the other.  Tomorrow pay attention to what shoe you put on first.  Then for the next 3 weeks, force yourself to put the other shoe on first.  When you are putting your shoes on, say to yourself the following.

 “I will find the most positive possible way to react to every situation I am faced with today.  Regardless of what happens, I will react as calmly and intelligently as possible because I am responsible for my own happiness.”

Stop waiting for happiness to come to you!  Try this exercise everyday for the next 21 days and watch your habit of happiness grow from the inside out.

Elise Matthews



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