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Monday, July 27, 2009

Happiness is a CHOICE

It almost sounds ridiculous to hear that "Happiness is a choice." Why? Well, quite simply, because we have all felt the pains of unhappiness and know full well that there are times when it is hard to smile let alone laugh.

Let's be clear about something: whether you are Donald Trump, the Pope, or the guy downtown looking for a handout, life has it's ups and downs.

Being happy is a bit like being satisfied with your nutritional intake: being full only lasts so long and then one feels hungry again. And while the analogy is not perfect, I would suggest that in nature the natural tendency is to be sad as it is to be hungry. In a word -- we have to work to stay full and we have to work to stay happy.

So what is the "work" of being and staying happy, you rightfully ask. If there was a simple, straightforward, universal answer I would share it with you. So while there are many infomercials telling you something different, the truth is that there is a significant amount of individual difference with respect to what makes us as individuals happy. (For a more full review, please visit www.thecoreofhappiness.info and download a free copy of my chapter, "Defining Happiness for Myself."

But the other aspect to keep in mind here is this: if something bad happens... if there is a flat tire, if we get laid off from work, if someone close to us dies... then we have a good reason to be unhappy. Grieving (of whatever type) is an important part of life. (Though contrary to what Charlie Brown said, I really doubt there is anything one would want to classify as "good grief.")

Truthfully, grieving sucks. Just like being hungry sucks.

On the other hand, how much would you enjoy your dinner if you spent the entire day nibbling on various foods? A continuously full stomach creates no enjoyment for the next meal.

The bottom line? Some difficulties, some upsets, some pains in life are unavoidable. The idea is not to spend endless time focusing on what has gone against our master plan. The concept I'm suggesting you buy into is that you allow yourself to grieve your loss and then compel yourself to move on with an openness to smiles and giggles and laughter. I'd even suggest you begin by humming a great song. It is really tough to be sad AND to hum at the same time. Try it and let me know your experiences!

Happy trails....

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