Oh, how I loved writing this post! I think this might be my favourite one yet! I’m taking an epsom salt bath while drinking nettle-peppermint tea (#herbnerd) and pondering just how to choose happiness. (I do my best thinking while in the bath.) I’ve learned way more than I thought I would about what it really means and (what it really takes) to be happy.
I’ve read, soul-searched, listened to pod-casts and listened to my inner self to learn HOW to CHOOSE to be happy. After recognizing that I cannot choose what happens in life, but I CAN choose my reaction to it, that’s when I took the reigns on my own happiness. It’s all in how you handle it.
Below are 10 ways I've learned
HOW to CHOOSE Happiness:
1. Don’t compare or keep score. Think of that old adage about “The Jones’ “. Many of Americans strive to keep up with the Jones’. However, how many Americans have stopped to ask the question: “Are the Jones’ even happy? Let’s not try and keep up with the Jones’. Let’s just live our lives true to who we are without comparing or keeping score. If you do compare or keep score, you’ll be robbing yourself of joy.
2. Be yourself. “To thine own self be true.” No one can be truly, deeply happy if they’re trying to be someone they’re not. Just be yourself. That’s the most beautiful version of you, AND that’s the only version of you that can have deep, lasting joy. So… do you, girl… do you. (Or boy.) ;)
3. Be aware. I’m not talking Boy Scouts motto here, I’m talking about being aware of your inner voice, your gut feeling, your conscience … your inner truth. If you practice being aware of what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling, then you can have the insight needed to make changes when necessary.
4. Be grateful. This is one of the most important parts about claiming your own happiness. “It is not happy people who are thankful; it is thankful people who are happy.” Choosing to be happy while using gratefulness as a tool, will open your eyes to the simple, everyday joys you might otherwise miss. In practicing gratitude, you are also practicing happiness.
5. Let it go. Be like Elsa. You know the song. That princess, excuse me - Queen - had a wee bit of wisdom amongst her dysfunctional life. You cannot embrace full joy when you’re allowing yourself to be bogged down by (fill in the blank)… guilt, resentment, anger, shame, hate, jealousy, sadness, or one that I’ve struggled with - perfection - (hence my Year of Intention). #intentionoverperfection Whatever it is, just find a way to let it go to make room for joy, happiness, gratitude and love. Recognize your feeling as a cloud passing in the sky. The feeling is real, but it doesn’t have to stay a dark, looming cloud over you forever. Choose to let the cloud (the feeling) just float away. Let it go. This will allow room in your soul for positive feelings. (Not saying it’s all that easy… that’s where practice comes in.)
6. Enjoy the journey. The journey is a process, never stagnant, always in the midst of change with an energetic flow. If you choose to enjoy the journey, then you can let go of outcomes. Teach yourself to accept where you are at and use your awareness to seek out those little things that can bring you big joy on an otherwise basic day.
7. Choose love. Having a hard time with that one person who gets under your skin? Choose to dig into love rather than dig into all the negative feelings that arise. The Beatles said it best: "All you need is love."
8. Seek simplicity. When our lives become so busy with to - do lists, crazy schedules, too much clutter in our homes, offices, cars, and especially our minds, then it can be oh - so - challenging to live in a sate of peace and happiness. By taking a moment to really think about what you can simplify, then act on it, you’ll free up some mental space for that happiness you crave.
Outer order = inner calm. For me, this is where minimalism helps my inner calm so very much. (Last month’s theme was “Intentional Minimalism”, and I purged a LOT.) I’ve realized that I’m happier when I choose less over more. It certainly takes practice and awareness, though.
9. Act the way you want to feel. Let me give you an example of what I mean. In my previous life, I had created a children’s entertainment company in which I provided costumed characters to birthday parties and events. The character I portrayed most often was Cinderella. Let me tell you, over the 12 years I worked in that occupation, there were countless times I felt the exact opposite of what a princess embodies! … Like the time I found out my mom had cancer (she’s now 10+ years cancer - free BTW; thank God). Or the many break-ups I had with boyfriends. Or when I had my period. I mean, let’s be honest… Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother would apply best to how I was really feeling inside during those times! Buuuuttt, I had to get the job done the very best I could for the sake of my business thriving and it's reputation. So… over the years I learned (with lots of practice) to take a quick moment to breathe and engage my inner princess before knocking on that door. I would compartmentalize my feelings for an hour and come back to them later. As soon as that party door opened, the smile came on and the airy princess-y voice came out. And HERE’S the thing that I started noticing… By the end of the party, when it was time for me to “de - Cinderella” and head back to my life as “Cryssy”, I actually noticed that I FELT better, happier… lighter. Simply by acting happier and lighter, I became happier and lighter. By means of necessity, I ended up learning a valuable life tool: Act the way you want to feel and you can change your energy, your vibration. The circumstances may stay the same since we honestly have very little control of this life. However, how you choose to handle it makes all the difference to your mood, your attitude, your vibrational energy. You might not hold the power to change the situation, but you DO hold the power to change the way you feel.
10. Recognize that it's ok to not be happy all the time. I’m not totally convinced that life works that way, anyway. We have the opportunities to learn our greatest lessons through challenges, struggles and pain. Handling ourselves the best we can throughout those hardships, and let’s face it - just getting through those times - can give us the perspective needed to really appreciate all of life’s joy. I believe this step in practicing happiness is key. It’s a key to freedom, really. To allow yourself not to be happy all of the time will take the pressure off and keep the flow of energy moving, ready to step into a state of happiness once again.
Happiness is a muscle that needs to be exercised or a skill that needs practice, practice… and even more practice. If you dedicate yourself to forming a LIFESTYLE in which you practice gratitude, embrace the small joys, let go of the “ick”, … then the degree of fulfillment can overflow your heart. You will know your purpose when you connect with yourself in ways that bring deep, lasting joy and happiness… and that purpose is to enjoy your life. To enjoy that very unique, sometimes quirky, sometimes weird, one - of - a - kind person that is YOU. You hold the key to your own happiness. It’s up to you to pursue it.
I’ll end this post with a memory of my dear friend, Rachelle. She used to have this saying she’d throw around all the time like a whistle or a hum. Whenever I’d ask her: “How are you doing?” She’d reply as melodically as an angel: “Oh… just happy to be alive!” Rachelle, until we're old and grey, that will forever be one of my favourite memories of you.
Thank you for joining me in learning about what “Intentional Happiness” means to me these last two weeks of April. I’m really glad you’re here. It means more to me than you’ll know.
Have a beautiful day (in which you’re “just happy to be alive”),
P.S. I couldn't recommend highly enough the Podcast: "Gretchen Rubin: 8 Rules to Happiness - Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversatiions". This podcast provided even more insight (on top of what I already knew) into how to choose happiness. PLUS it provided a rather happy surprise for me. In this podcast, Gretchen Rubin talks about how she chose one habit to work on per month for an entire year... and at the end of the year she'd have 12 new healthy habits that would help her to be a happier Gretchen. When I heard her talking about this... I thought: "That's me! I came up with the same idea too! That's so cool!" (Only I'm calling it my Year of Intentions)... but really the same thing... it all leads to the same goal: a happier Cryssy.