It can be easy to believe that our mood and attitude are influenced by the situations and circumstances we experience on a day-to-day basis. It sounds counter intuitive that it’s possible to be happy when you are facing challenges, problems, and adversity in your life. Well, like many things we don’t necessarily like taking responsibility for, happiness is a choice, and it’s a choice you can make every day – no matter what is happening in your life.
If I am being fully transparent, I have been going through a tough time emotionally for a little while. Several things in my life had compounded to the point where I was feeling a little helpless, very alone, and fearful that I may be spiralling into a dark place. There is an amazing quote that says, “There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle”. Well, that small light came to me in the form of a book I had already read once, but though it may be an opportune time to revisit. That book is The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.
In just a few days it is hard to explain the difference I have noticed in my life and the transformational change that has occurred. I am still only very early stages of the book, but the few things I have implemented have reinforced to me that happiness is not luck, chance, or circumstantial, instead happiness is 100% a choice. In the book Shawn discusses, in researched detail, why it is happiness that leads to success in life, NOT the other way around, as we have been led to believe. In the early stages of the book, he outlines a few very basic things we can choose to do on a daily basis to immediately increase our happiness. So, I thought, I have nothing to lose.
Of the things he mentioned, there were two I decided to add to my daily routine. One was a five-minute meditation, and the other was a random daily act of kindness. Now, again, as I am writing this, I have only just started doing this, and it is very early days. However, something happened inside me the other day that is worth sharing in this blog. The meditation for me is challenging, as I have a very active mind, but I am doing the best I can. It was, however, the random acts of kindness that have impacted me more profoundly.
The first day of this new routine, I went to the local café, walked up to the counter, and handed the server a $10 note. After a short pause and a confused look on the man’s face, I asked if he could use that money to pay for the next person’s coffee, tea, or purchase. He took the money gratefully and assured me he would comply with my request. I walked away with a warm feeling in my heart and a smile on my face. I definitely felt happier. The next day, I was wandering around the local shopping centre looking for an opportunity to do something for someone when I walked past a lotto kiosk. Hmm, I thought, I wonder.
I went up to the counter and was greeted by a nice man and I asked him to help me choose a $5 scratchie. My thought was that I would buy it and then find someone in the shopping centre to give it to. Just as I was making the payment, it came to me. He processed my payment, handed me the scratchie and then I handed it back to him and said, this is for you. I got the same confused look I had received the previous day, but as I assured him I was serious, he was very grateful. I walked away and something happened inside of me. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I felt an overwhelming emotion take over my body and I started bawling. Yes, in the middle of the shopping centre. The feeling was joy, the feeling was fulfilment, the feeling was happiness. I am already addicted to random acts of kindness and believe even more than ever that happiness is absolutely a choice.
Many things will bring immediate happiness and they are all things we can choose. Kindness is a choice. Meditation is a choice. Encouragement is a choice. Focusing on things you love is a choice. Gratitude is a choice. Thinking of things you are looking forward to is a choice. Exercise is a choice. Associating with positive and happy people is a choice. These are choices you can make every day and they will transform your life. In just the last few days I feel very different about my life, and I have a totally different perspective about myself and the things that were taking me down that dark path. I feel truly and deeply happy. The same is available for you, right now.
I had an incredible conversation with Jem Fuller on my podcast this week, called A fly on the wall. It was about communication, self-awareness, ego, and self-worth. Again, the focus of the discussion was about the choices we can make every day that will lead to happiness. I think it would be fair to say that we all want to be happy. I don’t anyone who states that their major goal in life is to be miserable. That being the case, and if you are struggling to find happiness, then simply stop searching for it and choose happiness today.