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Living Happier is a Choice.

“If you are so happy why is every story out of your mouth so negative”, My nearest and dearest said this to me recently while he was describing someone he had met who kept telling him how happy he was but at the same time, spent much of their time together complaining about his life.

It was a profound statement.  How many of us would describe ourselves as somewhat happy, yet the stories we share our pretty negative.  Think about your own life. If I were to hang with you for the day would I think you were happy based on the stories you tell and the ideas you share?

It is said that hard wired to be prepared for the worst, the fight or flight response is easier to engage then the gratitude response.  In preparation for potential loss and misery we will self-protect by being ‘on alert’.  Now I can see this being the case in the days of cave people and living off the land. You did need to be vigilant, be prepared.   But there is a stark difference between being vigilant and begin downright negative. Contrary to our natural inclinations, acknowledging the areas in our life where we are happier doesn’t automatically leave us open to attack or pain.

Bottom line, bad things happen.  Jobs are lost, parents get ill, people die, and relationships end.  Sadly, no amount of negative thinking will prevent us from having these negative experiences. In fact, all that negative thinking does is keeps us from enjoying the times when life is pretty good. In our life times, we will need to grieve, fight, get angry, and be sad.  Logically, negative experiences are a guarantee; therefore our negative thoughts don’t actually protect us from these negative experiences.  So why not be thankful for the positive experiences we have–and enjoy in some small or even giant celebrations.  We are more likely to worry about what MIGHT happen then be happy in the present moment and enjoy this happiness.

I remember when I first started paying attention to the messages that would play in my head.  Sadly, I noticed that each morning as the alarm would go off and I would crawl out of bed the FIRST thought in my head was “I hate my life”.  Seriously?  I said those words, and in full confession I would repeat them over and over as I brushed my teeth, took a shower and ate my breakfast.  “I hate my life”, “I hate my life” became some crazy mantra I would repeat.

In reality I had a great life, a home I owned, a job I mostly enjoyed, and supportive friends and family.  What I didn’t like about my life was being forced to get up via an alarm.  When I realized this I changed my statement from “I hate my life” to “I love my life, just wish it wasn’t so early” and then gradually to “I love my life, and I am lucky I get to wake up and enjoy it”.  Eventually, I started to feel better about my life, my energy shifted and I wasn’t groggy and crabby in the morning I was ready to take on the day.

Living Happier is an intentional practice.  It involves paying attention to your thoughts and words.  Noticing the stories you tell yourself and those around you.  It is a daily, on-going choice to fill your life with as much joy as possible.

Today on the first day of summer…what are you most thankful for?  What small or even giant joys do you have in your life?  Over the next few days pay attention to your life stories and whether they are serving your quest to live happier or falsely keeping you imprisoned in negativity?

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