Happiness is a Choice

Posted by Todd Smith

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Although it may be tempting to dismiss a call to happiness during this time of worldwide struggle and strife as overly optimistic or too simplistic, let me tell you now that I believe this is the perfect time for a reminder that when it comes to happiness, all of us have a choice.

In fact, choosing to be happy is one of the very few essential decisions that we get to keep, regardless of age, stage of life, or present situation. It’s a decision that can’t be taken away, and no one else can make it for you.

Each one of us gets to choose, every single moment of every day, whether or not we decide to be happy.

It Pays to Be Happy

When we choose to be happy, the rewards are truly great. First and foremost, happy people are more likable and desirable to be around. Isn’t it amazing how we’re drawn to people with sunny dispositions? One of the many consequences of this phenomenon of human nature is that happy people regularly benefit from the enthusiastic help and cooperation of others.

Secondly, happy people consistently report an improved quality of life. They enjoy life and everything in it more than people who aren’t happy.

I can personally attest to the connection between happiness and improved quality of life. Many years ago, I decided that I would be intentional about choosing to be happy. I didn’t just say I wanted to be happy, I found out what I needed to do to make happiness a daily reality for me.

Nine Choices Happy People Make

In their book, How We Choose to Be Happy: The 9 Choices of Extremely Happy People, authors Rick Foster and Greg Hicks present the results of interviews with happy people all over the world, from all walks of life. They found and wrote about nine specific choices commonly made by happy people. As you can see, most of these are things we already know about, and may even already practice.

The key, as I discussed in What is Easy to Do is Not Easy to Do, is to use your personal initiative to do the little things that are easy to do, and do them consistently. Here’s the list of choices that Foster and Hicks came up with:

1. Intend to Be Happy. This is the fully conscious decision to choose happiness over unhappiness.  Check out Learn to Enjoy What You Don’t Enjoy.

2. Be Accountable. You make the choice to assume full personal responsibility for your actions, thoughts, and feelings, as well as to refuse to blame others for your own unhappiness. It is also the practice of seeing ourselves as having control over our own lives, rather than being at the receiving end of circumstances.

3. Discover Your Needs. This is the ongoing process of identifying for ourselves what makes us truly happy.  You may want to review my post Was Napoleon Hill Wrong?

4. Centralize Your Goals. Creating a dream list is the happy person’s non-negotiable insistence on making that which creates happiness a central activity in life.

5. Turn Problems into Opportunities.  Recasting is to change the form of something.  Look at experiences in positive ways and change your problems into challenges.

6. Explore Options. Make the decision to approach life by being open to any new possibilities and taking a flexible approach to life’s journey.

7. Express Appreciation. Communicating gratitude and giving thanks to the people around you daily brings happiness. For more on this valuable point, read my post on The Power of Showing Your Appreciation.

8. Share Unselfishly. The art of giving is the act of sharing one’s self with friends, community, and the world at large without the expectation of a ‘return on investment.’

9. Be Truthful at All Times.  Make a contract with yourself and design a means by which to check your thoughts and actions against your own internal, personal code.  For more thoughts on the value of truthfulness, check out my blog: Being Honest With Ourselves

Though I’m fortunate that I have experienced a rewarding career and professional life, it’s not my achievements that are to be credited for my happiness and the outstanding quality of life I now enjoy. Rather, it’s the little decisions I consistently make each day—just like these—that continue to help me in my choice to be happy.

If you’ve never considered happiness as a choice before now, let me say again that I don’t think there has ever been a better time than now to begin choosing happiness. Will you commit to being intentional about making one of the choices listed above each day for the next nine days? I hope you will.

“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”—Anonymous

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About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 43 years and founder of Little Things Matter. This blog contains over 200 of his timeless life lessons.

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