Ultimately, happiness is a choice, though sometimes it may seem like life has just handed us a bag full of lemons. And, even if you can recognize it’s a choice, how do you turn that choice into action? To start, we need to accept that the hands we are dealt aren’t always fair, but it’s up to us to choose what we want to do with them.
Realizing that you are in complete control of your happiness is probably hands-down the most empowering feeling in the world. You can choose to be optimistic, you can choose shape your destiny, and you can make the decision to look for the good in every situation every day. Mastering this skill is not for the faint of heart; as it takes a lot of practice and blind faith, but once you achieve it, the reward is greater than you could ever imagine.
Genetics do come into play when it comes to being a generally happy person; there is no doubt there. But don’t be so quick to blame your depression on your mother or father. Scientific studies show that our personal choices account for 40-50 percent of our happiness. Do you realize how much power that gives you? Martha Washington once said, "The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our disposition and not on our circumstances." And research on happiness consistently shows that the happiest people do not have better life circumstances than those who are unhappy. They just have a better attitude.
Being responsible for your own happiness is freedom. You can choose to be optimistic, you can choose shape your destiny, and you can make the decision to look for the good in every situation every day.
Here are five ways to choose happiness:
1. Practice a gratitude ritual – Whether you reflect at the end of the day on what you’re thankful for or when you wake up in the morning, be sure to think about what you appreciate in your life.
2. Do something you love every day – Not all of us are able to pursue our passions through our careers, but we can still incorporate what we love into our everyday lives in some way.
3. Help others – Studies show that our happiness is strongly dependent on our relationships with others. Give back, be kind, and help those around you.
4. Get moving! – Exercise releases endorphins, which is a natural happiness booster. Even 20 minutes a week can do wonders for your mood.
5. Visualize your ideal world – Clearly visualize what you want in your life. This paints a picture for your brain, and helps you move toward your goals in a productive way.