Are you embracing happiness?

Are you happy?

Sit back for a moment and consider the question. It’s one we are asked most days, you know how the conversation goes:

“Hi, how are you?”

“I’m not too bad thanks…and you?”

“Yep, I’m good thanks”

Sound familiar? Of course it does, you have probably already said it multiple times already this week. It echoes around the world a million times a day, that standard, courteous touching of base between two people before they go onto what they believe is ‘really important’ –business, work, finance, politics, whatever.

Happiness and whether we are or not therefore becomes a conversational hors d’oeuvre, a disposable, forgettable and ever portable ice breaker that, more often than not is a question that is invariably asked insincerely and, more often than not, replied to with downbeat response or a lie.

Because let’s face it, very few of us are happy. Really happy. And let’s not be afraid to acknowledge that here.

Happiness is not a commodity; it is not something tangible that can be bought and sold. And it’s certainly not, despite what some people may claim, something we can access through mobile phone apps.

Ironic isn’t it, we all lead such busy, active and pressurised lives, that one of the suggestions now offered to bring a little happiness back into it is through one of the devices that has done so much in recent years to ensure that we all lead busy, active and pressurised lives.

So what is happiness and how can we go about finding some of it for ourselves? Is it really out there or is it just a pipe dream?

It’s important to realise that happiness is a state of mind. That means it isn’t something that we have to achieve or work towards, it’s something that has to be experienced, to be lived. And, because we truly and very definitely have the choice of defining our mindset for ourselves rather than allowing others to do that for us, happiness is something we can all choose for ourselves.

Only you are in control of your happiness. Thus when you, when we all choose to expand our minds and focus on all the good things around us and in our lives, we can start to live a genuinely happy life.

And that is not just me saying this, here comes the data 😉.

Boston University, in a 2019 study found that people who described themselves as optimistic lived longer at an average age of 85 and found positive thinkers extended their lifespan by 11-15%!

Yes, now I have your attention, don’t I?

And what if I also told you that 90% of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world but by how the brain processes the world, and that if we change our formula, we can affect the reality.

Psychologist Shawn Anchors recent research suggests 75% of your success is down to our optimism levels, social support, plus the ability to see stress as a challenge but not a threat. The link between stress/anxiety and excitement can at times be so subtle that just by shifting our mindset we can physically change the outcome.

All too often we look for excuses as to why we can’t be happy (Victimus Excusis I call it) we inform anyone and everyone that we’ve had a ‘terrible day’; one that has seen nothing go right for us and that we fully expect the same sort of thing to happen to us tomorrow and the next day, the day after that and…well, you get the picture.

To sum the whole sorry state of affairs up we then get all philosophical, summing up our pattern of ills and misfortune with a resigned shrug of the shoulders by saying “such is life” – as if that’s the reason for it, that life has laid down this immovable law that can never be argued or proved wrong.

But yet it can.

Remember, however difficult life may seem to be and however many obstacles seem to litter our paths, it’s not what we think about them, which is important, but HOW we are thinking about them.

If we are negative in our thoughts and actions, then one negative thought will surely begat another.

If, on the other hand, we alter our mindset and see only the good things in our lives and focus on how we are going to meet and beat those challenges that face us, then we start to find not only happiness in our own lives but will start to share it with others.

This is not about us all sitting round singing Kum ba yah, it is about taking action now! 

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