PURSUING HAPPINESS

Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.  (Abraham Lincoln)                                                          

This new series of posts is all about pursuing happiness. We’re going to dig deep and dive into the motivation of and science behind the pursuit of happiness. To prepare you in advance, this is not a step-by-step guide to help you become happier with exercises along the way. It is also not a collection of motivational quotes, inspirational affirmations, or warm and fuzzy stories. Instead, I want to share with you a lot of solid background information about what it takes to increase happiness in your life.

The information will give you a solid foundation to understand how and why exercises and affirmations work. You will find motivation and a fresh perspective on what it takes to have joy in your life; and, most important, we will look at how and when happiness affects you.

You will learn how happiness can influence your mental and physical health, how becoming happier can benefit both you and those around you, and why happiness is a choice we make – one decision at a time.

You will also find some actionable information, backed by science such as how the foods you eat affect your mood. Having all this information at your fingertips will help you not only have a better understanding of the pursuit of happiness; but, also help you map out your own journey to a happier, more joyful version of yourself.

Please take the time to read through all the postings (eight in all) and take the information to heart. Come back to the postings when you feel down, or need a little motivation and inspiration to work on increasing the happiness in your life.

Let’s start by looking at why your happiness matters.

Why Your Happiness Matters

Between the stress in your personal life and the chaotic world around you it is easy to get sucked into a feeling of doom and gloom. If you tune into the news for a little while (which I no longer do), it seems not a day goes by without some kind of disaster striking. Add the disasters to the ugly and angry politics and it is easy to feel like there is not a lot to smile about.

Yet, it is important to remember that how happy you are impacts your circle of influence more than you realize. The way you feel directly affects the lives of others around you. Also, when you are in a good mood, you are more motivated to get things done; which means that work takes less effort and your productivity is greater.

You tend to do better work when you are happily invested in what you do. If you are happy at work, time flies, work flies off your desk, and you want to do a great job. BUT . . . if you’re unhappy, the hours drag, you approach the work half-heartedly, and as a result, everything takes longer than it should. If you are honest, you know the quality is not as high it could be. You simply put in the hours and can’t wait to go home. I am sure you have noticed the difference.

Of course work is not the only place where happiness affects your productivity and the quality of your “work”. When you are happy, home chores are much easier, shopping is a breeze, and cooking a healthy meal for the family can be fun. The best part is that happiness is contagious.

The Happiness Loop

When you are happy, you affect the mood of everyone around you in a positive way. This, in turn, will help you stay happier. It becomes a positively reinforced happiness loop.

Being in a good mood makes you much more patient. This is important to all relationships in your life. You know you are a much better parent, spouse, or coworker when you are patient.

When you are stressed out and unhappy, snapping at someone and hurting others’ feelings without really meaning to do so happens far too frequently. It is much easier to explain, share, and be a better listener when you are content and patient.

Your happiness even affects your health. Happy people are less likely to get sick. It seems that smiles and laughter boost the immune system. A good mood will even help you heal faster and recover quicker from an illness. It is amazing how happiness can affect your physical health in a positive way. (More about this later.)

Happiness, and laughing in particular, is a great stress buster. They diffuse the negative effects stress can have on your mind and body.

To sum it all up, happiness is important because it can have a positive effect on your mind, body, and others around you. The good news is that you don’t have to wait for happy times to appear.

You have much more control than you think over how you feel. Happiness is a choice we make day by day, hour by hour, and situation by situation. Isn’t it time you took control of your emotions and chose happiness?

If your answer is yes, keep reading the posts and don’t forget to pick up the workbook, which will guide you through daily exercises and journaling prompts that will make you more aware of opportunities in your everyday life to improve your happiness.

In the coming posts on the pursuit of happiness, we will go over various aspects of this topic and what you can do be happier in each area.

For now realize that:

  1. How you feel matters and that it has a direct impact on your life and the lives of your loved ones
  2. You have control over your feelings and can make happiness happen. I’m not saying it’s always going to be easy, but I am saying it is possible and well within your reach.

Are you ready and willing to give it a try?

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