Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Happiness is a choice.

Happy is an adjective, defined as: experiencing the effect of favourable fortune; having the feeling arising from the consciousness of well-being or of enjoyment; enjoying good of any kind, as peace, tranquillity, comfort; contented; joyous.
  • 1769, Oxford Standard text, Bible (King James), Psalms, 144, xv,
    Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.
  • 1777, Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man in Four Epistles: Argument of Epistle II, in The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope, Esq, Volume III, page 26,
    The learn'd is happy nature to explore, / The fool is happy that he knows no more ;

When I was growing up, I had a very simplistic understanding about what it would take to be a happy adult.  I thought that if I did as I was told and followed the prescribed path, everything would turn out fine.  It was all laid out in a pretty straight forward way by my parents; go to school and get good grades, go to college and get good grades, get a job and work hard at it, meet the partner of your dreams, get married, have kids.

What I didn't truly understand until I actually got out into the world was that there are so many things that can happen to knock you off of your path at every step.  Of course these chaos causing events do not happen to everyone; some people do actually get to travel along undisturbed.  I know people who have been blessed like that, and while I don't think that they have to work too hard at being happy; the best of them cultivate a practice of gratitude and paying it forward.  But for the rest of us, we either let the chaos make us miserable, or we choose to be happy, and do what ever work is required to maintain a happy demeanor.

Sadly, misery seems to be a pretty common condition; I look around and see frowning, angry people everywhere.  I see it on the roads, in line at the grocery store, in the face of the person waiting tables.  Customer service used to be synonymous with "service with a smile", but that is a forgotten ideal these days.  {The exception to this is when dealing with indie business people; another reason to choose that option whenever possible!}  I used to wonder why some people were so very unhappy; life experience has led me to believe that it is also a choice.  I think that it comes from "I'll be happy when _____" and "life will be perfect when _____" thinking, and when those things or moments don't come, the lack of happiness persists.

So how do we choose happiness?   For me, it's a matter of focusing on the good, and feeling a joyful gratitude for its presence in my world.  If I find myself getting cranky, I stop and spend a few moments reflecting on something joyful, or indulging in something that I enjoy.  A few moments of play with my Maltese fur babies are a perfect mood elevator!  They are so full of love and energy, and literally jump for joy whenever I walk into the house.  I am extremely grateful to have them in my life, and grateful too that I can care for them and give them a good home.  I also feel fortunate that the mister loves them as much as I do!  As someone who always owned large dogs, he certainly did not expect to be so attached to these little ones.  We're so lucky!

Do you have something special that you like to focus on for a few moments when you feel a funk coming on?  Please share; I would love to hear!

xoxo, Anita


  1. Oh, it's such a huge, complex question, for something that should be so simple, don't you think? I've delved into the topic of happiness a few times, mostly when studying religion, psychology, and ethics. Many, many theories out there. Of course, theories don't make us happy.
    It's great that you recognize when you are getting cranky, and take measures to change course. I don't usually realize it until I've been in the funk for some time.
    Mood elevators?
    Puppies, definitely.
    Flowers, especially bright colored ones. Even better if bees are buzzing around them!
    Good smells associated with childhood, e.g. fresh-mown grass, cinnamon, pipe smoke.
    Chocolate - it really can't be beat.

  2. You're so right Katrina; happiness has been theorized about since time began, I think. I wonder if over thinking it is what makes it seem so elusive for so many. I know that is why I've simplified it for myself; as you said, theories don't make us happy!
    I love your list; flowers, wonderful smells and chocolate are all so joyful!

  3. I try to stay mindful of positives. It's so easy to focus on the negative aspects of your life which you would like to change and forget to notice all the good things you enjoy. Good health for myself and loved ones are top of my list.

  4. I think focusing on the good things helps a lot. Walking outside is the best medicine for me. Lately I have been walking on my lunch hour and that helps with work stress. I also love my favorite blogs and daily comics. I envy you with your fur babies. I don't have any pets right now so I make friends with the animals in the neighborhood. Katrina mentioned fresh-mown grass; that is such a great smell. Walking barefoot in grass can be great too.

  5. Great post! I strive every day to stay positive and happy. To that end, I nominated you for a blog award. Details go up on my blog on Saturday at noon.

  6. I didn't get to be happy until I realised it was a state of mind rather than an elusive entity to be tracked down by having the "perfect" external circumstances. I honestly believe that happiness isn't about externals at all, but is a decision to accept everything as it is and to live in the moment. I know it sounds so simple, and it hasn't been simple for me to understand it. I have gone through a whole range of very challenging external circumstances, but it's becuase of those challenges that I've come to understand that, for me, happiness is a choice. Not a denial of what's difficult, but an acceptance of it, not a surrendering to it, but none judgement of it. When I stop judging what's "good" and "bad" and accept things just as they are, I get to be able to see how much of being alive is completely amazing. There may be ten things in my day that are completely horrible, but there will be a million other things that are completely miraculous, and it's where I put my focus that determines how happy or miserable I am. I know it sounds twee and simplistic and I'm not dismissing how much pain and suffering there is in life, but I absolutely believe that I have enough food to eat, a roof over my head and a family that loves me. I'm very rich. Em x

    1. Oh Em, I'm So happy for you! You truly understand happiness and that we can choose it for ourselves regardless of what life hands us. Thank you so much for your visit and for sharing your story; I feel blessed by your loveliness.
      xo, Anita

  7. for me, happiness is so, so linked
    to being who I really am....if I'm in a funk,
    I can almost always track it back to not being true
    to who I am....there is just so much freedom and joy
    in being real.
    Unless it's sorrow....true sorrow and grief which deserves
    to be felt,
    I can usually get back to the business of being who I really am
    and the happiness bubbles back up inside.
    I may be wrong, but it sure seems to work for me:)


Dear friends,
Thank you for taking the time to comment! ! I want this to be a space of free and open dialog, within the boundaries of respect and basic human kindness. Whether we are in agreement or not, all comments will be published so long as they meet that requirement.
xo, Anita